When it comes to raising awareness for the plight of the three kidnapped teens and Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard, David Mandel of Alon Shvut is not afraid to walk the walk.
Mandel, 68, completed a 400-kilometer walk on Tuesday morning to the White House from Butner, North Carolina, where Pollard is incarcerated. The walk started on June 10 as a show of support for Pollard but gained additional significance two days later when Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel were kidnapped from near Mandel’s community.
“The purpose of the walk was as a prayer for Jonathan’s release and every step of the way has been dedicated to that as well as to the memory of our son Daniel, an IDF officer who was killed in Nablus in an operation apprehending terrorists 11 years ago,” Mandel said.
“Two days into the walk we received the horrible news of the kidnapping and naturally immediately brought Gilad, Naftali and Eyal into our prayers and into this project.”
Wherever Mandel went, he recited Psalms with Pollard, the three teens and his own son in mind. He concluded by saying Psalms near the White House.
A Canadian-born physician who works in Jerusalem and Sderot, Mandel said he has walked in rainstorms and intense humidity. But he said he is a regular walker and feels good.
Mandel had hoped that by the time he arrived in Washington he would hear that the three boys were alive and well and that US President Barack Obama had decided to commute Pollard’s life sentence to the more than 28-and-a-half years he has served.
Instead, he arrived on the day the three boys’ funeral was held.
“There were a number of things that persuaded me to go on the walk,” he said. “Pollard went more into my consciousness. I got into the story more, and I wanted to do what I could do.”