Terror Victims and Their Support Network Run Jerusalem Marathon Together to Honor Fallen Loved Ones

Terror Victims and Their Support Network Run Jerusalem Marathon Together to Honor Fallen Loved Ones

This year’s 13th International Jerusalem Winner Marathon was a welcome and much-needed opportunity for unity and empowerment amidst five long months of ongoing war and loss. 

Among this year’s runners are victims of terror and those who are supporting them in their lifelong journey to healing. Many participated with “Team OneFamily,” which has 300 runners, including bereaved family members alongside OneFamily staff and volunteers. The team is not a traditional running team, but rather a community-building and resilience-strengthening initiative to bring the bereaved and their support networks together to achieve a shared goal. 

Among them were Yanir Adany and Leron Bernstein, both from Tel Monde, who are running in honor of Yanir’s brother, Captain Elay Adany z”l. Aldany, 23, a Sayeret Maglan officer, fell in battle in Kfar Aza on October 7. 

The Bernstein-Adany families established a special bond at the start of the war. Early on, the Bernsteins sought to contribute to the war effort, and Leron’s wife baked challahs intended for IDF soldiers. When the loaves didn’t make it to the army base, the Bernsteins pivoted and gave the challahs instead to their neighbors. With one challah left, they headed to Elay’s shiva. Leron met Rami, Elay’s father, and a connection quickly formed between the two families. Now, every Friday, the Bernsteins bring challah and visit with the Adanys.

Throughout their weekly visits, Leron learned more about the family’s pain. He spoke with Orit, and the idea was hatched that Yanir and Leron would run the half-marathon together. For Yanir, the run provides a tangible goal to work towards and serves as a way to honor his older brother. It has provided Leron with a tool to let Yanir know he is truly there for him. Leron notes, “The best answer to tragedy and pain is togetherness and to be with someone. You can’t remove their pain, but you can bring some light into the moment.”.

Leron says Yanir is “optimistic and never complains.” A month after his brother’s death, Yanir finished his basic training in an elite IDF unit. At a special ceremony, his parents gave him Elay’s beret. Yanir says, “My brother was heroic and amazing… I loved him. I admired him.”

While training this week, Leron visited Elay’s grave. He says he feels a sense of connection to the Adany family and that he wants “to do whatever I can for them.” For Leron, who made aliyah from South Africa, that mission includes sharing Elay’s story with as many people as possible, especially his network abroad. “I want them to see the story and to carry it on somehow. For all the families helped by OneFamily – the pain doesn’t stop for them. People overseas need to keep going, keep supporting, and keep helping these families whose loved ones made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Captain Elay Adany z”l

The Guetta siblings, Tzvi-El, 23, Yitzhak, 15, Yair, 13, and Talia, 9, have joined OneFamily’s team in memory of their brother Yehuda Guetta, 19, who was killed in a terror attack at Tapuah Junction in 2021. “OneFamily has given them a lot. They feel comfortable at their programming, more so than when they are with their friends at school,” Milka, their mother, commented. “They share the same pain,” Milka says that without OneFamily she doesn’t know where the family would be.

The Team OneFamily experience goes beyond the race. Excitement for the marathon began building the night before as teammates met for a festive pasta party. Younger runners then enjoyed a sleepover at the organization’s Jerusalem headquarters and headed this morning to the starting line as a group. OneFamily’s booth at the staging area served as a central gathering spot for the team, where they had food to fuel up on, face painting, photo magnets, and congratulated each other post-run.

“This year’s event was a profound testament to the strength of the human spirit in the face of challenges” OneFamily CEO Chantal Belzberg explains. “Running together brings a sense of meaning and pride to Israeli victims of terror and their families. We see that our integrated team brings so much joy and support to those that need it most – this year more than any other.” 

OneFamily is Israel’s largest organization supporting victims of terror and their families. OneFamily provides critical short and long-term emotional, financial, and rehabilitative assistance to those impacted by terrorism, a number that has more than doubled since October 7th. OneFamily is among the 2024 recipients of the prestigious Genesis Prize

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