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Alex Sternberg
A Jewish Activist

‘The Run of their Lives’

David Edery with runners (photo Alex Sternberg)
David Edery with runners (photo Alex Sternberg)

Sunday, February 12th 2023 – For 18 young boys and girls from the Bet Elazraki Children’s Home in Netanya, Israel, this day was a life changer. They, along with 4 staff members, were in Daytona Beach to run the famous Daytona Half Marathon. The team was running for Bet Elazraki as well as for the memory of Liran Edery.

Bet Elazraki is the warm and loving home of the young and energetic runners, and the over 200 children and hundreds of alumni whose lives were transformed by Bet Elazraki. Each one of the children placed there bear a complex and different story.  But they have all been running a new course in life since they came to the home, where all of their needs are cared for, and their potential is harnessed at all levels. At Bet Elazraki they feel that they have “someone to run with” – a dedicated and skilled multidisciplinary team led by Yehuda and Riki Kohn, alongside many friends and supporters. The children’s home applies a professional and meticulous work model that enables it to realize its vision – shattering the children’s cycle of distress. The vision is realized by the many graduates who serve in elite IDF units, attend universities, fill respectable positions in the economy and marry and build healthy families.

Half marathons have become very popular lately, with over 2 million runners in over 2,800 events throughout the year. The Daytona Beach half marathon was named one of the seven scenic half marathons in America by Active.com, and features one of the most unique courses in the running world. The 13.1-mile race, considered a major and highly coveted event, offers runners the opportunity to start on the famed tri-oval track of the Daytona International Speedway and run to the hard-packed sands of the beach, where racing got its name.  It attracts veteran and skilled marathon runners, as well as beginners, from around the world.  Each participant has his/her own fitness level, but they all share in the aim of the run – helping welfare organizations worldwide and raising important donations for many people.

The connection between the Children’s Home and running started over a decade ago and has proven to be a successful model. In order to be selected, the children practice and train intensively for months in preparation for the big day. But running is not enough. They must also improve their school performance.

The team runs for all the children  back at Bet Elazraki and also dedicate their efforts to the memory of Captain Liran Ederi of Netanya who fell in Operation Protective Edge. Liran’s father, David Ederi, is a dear friend of the Children’s Home, who developed a strong bond with the children.

The hard training paid off, as some of the boys and girls finished first, second and third in their respective age categories. Beyond the running achievements, the greatest reward is the sense of self-fulfillment that they described, contributing to their self-image and confidence. One of the boys who participated in this year’s run described it well, “Waking up every morning to practice is so empowering and I feel that, from here on, the sky’s the limit”.

They were proud and elated to represent both Bet Elazraki and Israel. They felt that, by running, they contribute to the others at home who are inspired by them and consider them to be their role models.

Undoubtedly, it was a lifechanging and unforgettable experience for all. The team learned that dreams could turn into reality with hard work. The race was just a way to reinforce these lessons.  At Bet Elazraki, Yehuda and Rikki realize, that just providing the bare necessities for their children to grow and thrive, is not enough. Each child needs a chance to dream, too.

When you change a child’s life, you are changing your life as well.

We also salute the partners to the run, who accompanied the children the entire way. Donors Kenny Greif and Warren Strul who came to spend an entire day with the team at Universal Studios, the Struhl Family (Warren, Adam and Jonathan) who surprised the kids with amazing treats from their company, GOAT Foods.Michael Packer, owner of Packer Shoes, who donated new, professional sneakers to each runner.David and Cindy Ederi – Liran Ederi’s parents.

Alex and Ilyse Sternberg – Parents of Jonatan, who is volunteering at Bet Elazraki this year, and Chani Stark, another U.S. volunteer at the Children’s Home who joined the delegation during the weekend.

Results for Bet Elazraki medal winners:

Menachem Salomon  Boys 15-17        1:48 2nd place
Oren Bore                    Boys 15- 17       1:53 3rd place
Ayala Partush              Girls   15-17    2:39 1st  place
Avishag Hadad            Girls 15-17     2:41 2nd place
Noa Duani                   Girls 15-17    2:55 3rd place

The team included:Vlad Azaev, Stav Dahari, Menahem Salomon, Yehonatan Mena, Aharon Levy,Oren Bore, Itzchak Ayanaw, Noam Peretz, Ayala Partush, Tali Reed,Noa Duani, Shirelle Aronov, Renana Mekayten, Avishag Hadad,  Tahel Shafir, Noa Blank, Tal Shemesh, Noa Slamie, Yonatan Sternberg, Binyamin Suliman, Yossi Dinershtain and  Yehuda Kohn

After an exciting and event filled week that included an NBA game, a trip to Universal Studios, shopping at Orlando outlet stores(courtesy of $200 spending money furnished by the sponsors) and of course the race, the exhausted team was ready to board the El Al plane back to Netanya.

We look forward to next years’ Team Bet Elazraki

For more information on Bet Elazraki please contact Yehuda Kohn at yehuda@elazraki.org.il or

Yossi Dinershtain   yossi@elazraki.org.il

David Edery with runners (photo Alex Sternberg)
Elated team after the race (photo Alex Sternberg)
About the Author
Born in Hungary, emigrated to the US in 1961. USA Karate Champion and sensei. Jewish activist, and leader of JDL. Doctor of Physiology and Public Health (SUNY College of Medicine), was the Director of the Pulmonary Function and Exercise Physiology Lab at Downstate Medical Center. President Center for Hungarian Holocaust Education. Author and teacher of Zionism, Jewish history, and the Holocaust MaccabiUSA Karate Chair over 40 years, “Legend of the Maccabiah” recipient 2018. Inductee Jewish Sports Heritage Ass. 2024 USA Karate Federation Hall of Fame inductee 2015 Author of "Recipes from Auschwitz-The Survival Stories of Two Hungarian Jews with Historical Insight". Amazon. Author: "The Toughest Jew in Brooklyn" in progress www.alexsternberg.com