(photo credit: Courtesy)
The First Annual International Jerusalem Marathon, which is set to take place on March 25 is truly cause for celebration. For the first time in the 5,000+ year history of the city, Jerusalem will be hosting a professional running event of such a large magnitude.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, himself an avid marathon runner, stated on the marathon’s website that “few cities in the world can combine breathtaking, inspirational views, like Jerusalem’s famous historical sites and amazing landscapes, into their marathon course.
“As someone who has been running across the city for many years, I can personally testify that Jerusalem has been blessed with fresh mountain air and perfect running weather.”
While I’m sure that Jerusalem’s hilly terrain will present a challenge for the thousands of runners participating in the various running/walking tracks of the event, I’m equally confident that the mayor’s praise for the unique running course will hold true.
The marathon has inspired not only those individuals who enjoy running to get out there and compete but is also being used as a tool for various nonprofit organizations to spread their message and raise necessary funds for their respective worthwhile endeavors.
One such group running in this year’s marathon is “Team Daniel” or “Tzevet Daniel,” named in memory of 24-year old Daniel Mandel who fell in 2003 while on duty in the IDF defending his country in a battle against terrorists.
Since his untimely death, Daniel’s parents Cheryl and David – who made aliya from Toronto and are residents of Alon Shvut – have been working hard to raise funds to establish a unique park in their home community in memory of their fallen hero.
According to the Mandels, the park, which will have music as its theme, will be named “Derech Daniel” or “Daniel’s Path” and will “pay tribute to Daniel’s musical talent, and magical qualities.”
The construction of the park will also give the Mandels the opportunity to thank their community for reaching out in brotherly support ever since Daniel’s tragic passing.
Despite their unimaginable pain, the Mandels decided to move forward and mobilize their energies towards building something concrete thus making a real difference in memory of Daniel.
According to Cheryl, “the park is being constructed along the path that Daniel used to take walking to our [synagogue] every Shabbat.”
She adds that now others will walk in Daniel’s footsteps, which will allow his meaningful legacy as a committed soldier, wonderful son, great friend and talented musician to live on.
While one day many children will play, frolic, and cut through Daniel’s Path, it is the path taken by those running/ walking as members of Tzevet Daniel which will help make this project a reality.
So far almost 80 participants from all over the country will be sporting the team’s green-tshirts on race day.
Group members will be running either supporting the cause out of their own pockets, or encouraging family, friends, and local businesses to support their efforts via sponsorships.
Also included in Tzevet Daniel is a special group composed of 50 current
IDF Nachal Soldiers from the same unit that Daniel served in, who will
be running the race in memory of their fallen comrade who they never had
the privilege of meeting.
The fact that they are running based on ‘legend’ alone is a true testament to how special of a person Daniel really was.
With the park project already approved by the local authorities, the
location mapped out, and the design finalized all that’s needed is the
remaining capital for the heavy machinery to come in and start clearing
the area for the construction of the park.
While the focus for most marathon participants on race day will be
untied shoelaces, the location of the next water station and how many
grueling kilometers are left to run, those who are racing for this
important cause, and all the other important causes, deserve special
To learn more about the life of Daniel
Mandel z”l or to become a member of Tzevet Daniel for the Jerusalem
Marathon, please visit www.daniel-mandel.co.il