Proceeds are being collected by Cooper Katzman
Based on 275 Miles, each worth $22.54
__”Chesed ve’emet al ya’azvecha; kash’rem al gar’grotecha, ketavem al lu’ach libecha. Umtza chein ve’seichel tov, be’einei Elohim ve’adam.” Proverbs 3:3-4 __
“Let kindness and truth never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man.”
I am embarking on a journey. A journey that intertwines physical endurance with a mission to shed light on the challenges faced by my community, and communities all over the world, against the rising tide of antisemitism. I am dedicating myself to walking the Long Trail in Vermont, a mountainous 275-mile route from Canada to Massachusetts, a grueling endeavor of eight days, an odyssey of the body, mind, and spirit. But this is more than just a hike; it is a statement, a call to action. I am walking for Tikkun Olam, for the repair and healing of our world tainted by division, hatred, and injustice.
Walking for Tikkun Olam is more than a physical feat; it is a symbol of resilience, solidarity, and the unwavering pursuit of justice. Each day of this journey is dedicated to a person or people whose lives have been scarred by antisemitism. I will carry their stories with me, doing what I can to shine a light on the darkness they have endured. I carry with me the weight of history, the burdens of those who have suffered at the hands of antisemitism, and the unyielding hope for a better tomorrow.
On day one, I will honor the memory of Thomas Meixner, a professor at the University of Arizona whose life was tragically cut short by a student filled with hatred.
Day two will be dedicated to Rabbi Avi Bukiet, whose Chabad in Arlington, my hometown, was set ablaze not once, but twice, an act of violence that defied understanding.
Rabbi Shalom Noginski, who was brutally stabbed in Brighton, will be remembered on day three.
On day four, I will carry the weight of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, where 11 innocent lives were taken by an act of senseless violence the echoes of the lives lost forever etched into the fabric of our collective memory.
Day five will bring attention to the unsettling reality of swastikas being drawn in schools, even in my own community, highlighting the distressing growth of antisemitism among the very institutions that should foster inclusivity, a reminder that ignorance and hatred still find refuge in our very own communities.
On day six my thoughts will be with the congregation of Beth Israel, where an armed man held innocent worshippers hostage.
Day seven I will honor the victims of the Elat Market shooting in Los Angeles, a kosher market that became a site of tragedy and loss.
Finally, for over 50 miles on day eight, I will dedicate my steps to Steve Ross, a family friend and Holocaust survivor who for years suffered beyond imagination in concentration camps, to then dedicate his life to education and commemoration, only to witness the desecration of the Holocaust memorial he was the leading voice for in Boston.
With every step I will take, I acknowledge the privilege of choice. I have the choice to stop at any moment, rest my weary body, and return to a world where safety and security are not questioned. It is a privilege my Grandma Maggie, an Orthodox Jew, helped me to understand and acknowledge. She helped bring Judaism into my life, and sadly passed before seeing me become bar mitzvah. Still, in the depths of my heart, I carry the wisdom and lessons imparted to me by my beloved grandmother, who may no longer walk by my side but forever resides in my soul. She was a beacon of compassion and a fierce advocate for justice. When I was 10 years old, her gift to me was 18 envelopes that each contained a dollar. She asked me to send those dollars to organizations that would help other people. Through lessons like this, she instilled within me the values of kindness, empathy, and standing up for those who may be marginalized or oppressed. Through my journey, I am raising funds for the Anti-Defamation League, an organization at the forefront of combating antisemitism and promoting equality. Their tireless efforts align with the essence of Tikkun Olam, the Jewish concept that compels us to repair the world, to heal the fractures caused by hate, and to foster a society that embraces diversity and understanding.
While I walk with this privilege of choice, those who have endured antisemitism, discrimination, and violence have no such luxury. They are thrust into the depths of suffering without choice, their lives marred by the scars left behind by hatred. The Holocaust stands as a grim reminder of the depths humanity can sink to when hatred goes unchecked. Millions were senselessly slaughtered, families torn apart, including my own, and futures stolen. In this act of remembrance and advocacy, I refuse to let their suffering fade into the archives of history. I choose to walk, to bring awareness to these pressing issues, and to offer what I can to help. This is my statement, my declaration that I will not stand idly by as antisemitism festers. I choose to use my physical strength as a conduit for change, to channel my pain and exhaustion into a force for good.
By dedicating each day to those affected by antisemitism, I seek to amplify their stories and bring them into the collective consciousness. In memory of my grandmother and in solidarity with all who have suffered, I embark on this journey, with hope in my heart and the unwavering belief that we can make a difference. May their memories be a blessing, guiding us towards a world where love triumphs over hate and compassion reigns supreme. Together, we can create a world where the horrors of the past remain in the past and where compassion and acceptance prevail.
I call upon others to join me on this journey of awareness, action, and healing. To walk alongside me in spirit, and to contribute to the repair of our world, one step at a time.
|Long Trail 23'