Power and strength

Kav L’Noar for at-risk youth teams up with the Givati Brigade and a New Jersey marathon runner.

The Givati Brigade poses for a team photo with members of staff. Over 2,000 Givatis participated (photo credit: KAV L’NOAR)
The Givati Brigade poses for a team photo with members of staff. Over 2,000 Givatis participated
(photo credit: KAV L’NOAR)
Training and preparing for a marathon is a journey that teaches the ability to break one’s own boundaries and to understand the hidden potential of the human being, explains Meir Kaniel, who traveled from New Jersey to be one of the 30,000 participants in this year’s Jerusalem Marathon.
Running in a marathon “is a little bit of a spiritual experience for me,” he says.
“It requires a miracle to accomplish these feats. On a normal basis, the body can’t run 26 miles at one time. It’s a spiritual experience; it’s constantly praying, it’s connecting to God through that entire process, and praying to allow me to successfully accomplish the goal.”
Kaniel’s story started three years ago when he found himself in the hospital because of a painful pinched nerve. His severe pain stemmed from constant stress and chronic neck and back pains. Taking up running as a way to improve his physical and mental state, he discovered its “incredible” healing qualities.
Recently, Kaniel, who attended a Kav L’Noar (Lifeline for Youth) event in 2014, teamed up with the organization to inspire children and young adults to get active as a way to cope with difficulties in life and overcome mental and physical obstacles.
Kav L’Noar focuses on the challenges facing Israeli youth, whether it’s a social challenge, a challenging home life, or a learning disability. It provides support and guidance for kids and their families until the crisis is resolved.
“We are there for parents who recognize that their child is struggling, but do not know how to help him or her. Our programs assist the entire family in recognizing, understanding and dealing with the challenges they face,” says Kav L’Noar founder Ron Wachtel.
Kav L’Noar is a holistic organization that provides each client with family therapy, individual mentorship, and group mentoring in an educational setting to teach how to cope with issues and prevent their escalation.
“We don’t just see the kids when they come to therapy, we see them in their homes and at school, and with their friends and with their families,” says clinical supervisor and family therapist. Rina Berkus.
“We also have a diverse staff and culturally sensitive therapists who are able to address the needs and understand the client in their social context,” explains family therapist Rivka Weiss.
“Our clientele is very culturally, socioeconomically and religiously diverse.” she adds.
“No client is ever turned away. Even if they can’t pay our very nominal fees, Rina has established a sliding fee scale, so that everyone on some level makes a financial commitment, but perhaps no more then 30 percent of our services are met by client fees. That’s an important thing that were very proud of.”
Dani Yemini, CEO of Kav L’Noar reiterates: “That’s the goal, to help more families. Every day, mentors and teachers are helping kids and their families and that’s changing the world, one person at a time. It’s the ripple effect.”
KAV L’NOAR’S ripple effect made a splash this year at the Jerusalem Marathon.
Kaniel teamed up with Kav L’Noar and soldiers from the Givati Brigade to incorporate the act of running with Kav L’Noar’s mission.
“The soldiers are like role models to the kids,” says Yemini. “The kids need to see older kids who have overcome obstacles. We have our kids running, we have our team of Kav L’Noar running, we have the Givati soldiers running, and we have the marathon board supporting.”
Some two thousand Givati soldiers turned up at the marathon, in support of the organization’s sterling work.
Aside from participation in the marathon, the Givati soldiers participate in the organization’s mentoring groups to discuss their positive experiences in the army, since most at-risk youth don’t have role models who have served in the IDF.
“When you are a runner, you set goals for yourself in terms of what you want to achieve,” says Wachtel.
“Running can help young kids who are having challenges with boundaries and setting goals for themselves. What Meir [Kaniel] is doing is trying to help us bring running to the kids we work with, so they can use it as a tool. That’s what Kav L’Noar is all about, providing tools to young people and their families to face and cope with challenges so they can look forward to a more positive future.”
Running the marathon is a symbolic act for members of Kav L’Noar which works to give kids coping tools to deal with their difficulties and inspiration to follow through and achieve their goals. Their work was this year recognized by the Jerusalem Marathon Board as one of the 17 organizations officially invited by the Jerusalem Marathon Board to participate in the event.
Kaniel was proud and happy to run alongside the youth and share the results of his own healing experience for their benefit.
“We don’t really realize how much power and strength we really have inside of us until we make a decision to find that strength,” he says.