Supporters of the campus outreach organization Meor D.C. are trying a new way to raise funds. They’re walking to Israel.
Well, they’re walking or running to Israel in spirit, having promised to put in 100 miles each within 30 days.
“I’ve been walking more than I ever have,” said Rabbi Yosef Edelstein, the director of Meor D.C. and one of eight on the team supporting his organization. As of Aug. 11, he’s walked 34 miles.
Walk to Israel is the creation of the international Jewish organization Olami. The project addresses three activities halted by the coronavirus pandemic: fundraising, trips to Israel and face-to-face gatherings, according to Michal Nordmann, Olami’s director of marketing.
“There’s no community centers,” Nordmann said. “There was no going to shul. There’s no college campuses in the same way. So how do you keep the community feeling like a community? So we came up with this idea. If we can’t fly to Israel, then we can walk there.”
Nordmann said the goal averages out to four miles a day or 10,000 steps. The 30-day stretch was chosen to build an exercise habit. Walk for Israel kicked off on Aug. 2 and has raised more than $2 million for participating organizations, Nordmann said.
Meor D.C.’s team has committed to walk 715 miles collectively and raise $7,500. As of Aug. 11, they had walked 189 miles and raised $744. Meor is based at George Washington University in the District. Edelstein said he wants to use the money his team raises to send books on inspiration, meditation and mindfulness to Jewish students. To do that, he’s looking for additional runners.
“We have a lot of quality on the team, now we want to expand the quantity. So people should jump on,” Edelstein said.
Madeleine Tasini is a runner on Meor D.C.’s team. Now living in Florida, she attended Meor D.C. Shabbat dinners while she was studying at American University. She figures she can walk to Israel from anywhere.
“I just wanted to exercise, and it’s hard to get out during the pandemic. So it’s a way to get out of the house,” Tasini said.