Stacy Goldstein is a runner. She has been running for years and encourages others to become involved in the sport. After October 7, an international movement was launched to bring awareness to the hostages that were taken into Gaza. It is called Run for Their Lives and groups around the world meet weekly to walk or run for about 18 minutes to let the families of the hostages know that the world is with them. Upon hearing about it, Goldstein was called to become involved.
Goldstein was quickly joined by Serge Toropov and the two have been organizing weekly walk/runs for months. Toropov is also an avid runner and was also drawn to this movement.
More than just out of a love for running, the impetus to join Run for Their Lives and to be the first Canadian city to sign-up came from a feeling of stagnation.
“There wasn't much we could do [for the hostages], and the community was feeling like it needed to do something, anything at all that could show our support. In addition, the idea of being able to both raise awareness and keep the hostages in our minds while also creating a short video that would be sent to the hostages' families every week, was comforting for us as a local community and hopefully for the suffering families,” Goldstein states
“It’s been both hard and has provided consolation to keep thinking of them, keep speaking their children's names and reminding people in our neighbourhoods that this is still going on. That felt like something tangible that we could do.”
As a Jewish community there have been many opportunities to come together and support each other and this is one initiative that supports the hostages still in captivity. During a walk/run people wear red T-shirts printed with “Run for Their Lives” , pin posters of a hostage on their backs and carry Israeli and Canadian flags. “We are proudly displaying our Judaism and our connection to Israel.” Goldstein adds.
The walk/runs have been taking place in three neighbourhoods where Jews live or frequent. It was suggested that the walk/runs should take place downtown, somewhere that is more public, but ultimately it was decided to stay local to encourage more people to come out. This has had a very positive side effect.
“The group receives many ‘honks’ in support from passing cars, and the low, residential speed limit means that the passers-by are able to see what we are actually doing. The group wouldn’t get that much attention if they were downtown on a Sunday.”
The mood during the walk/runs is both upbeat and solemn. The participants understand that they are coming together in support of people suffering in horrific conditions, and the participants feel validated in their shared concern and comradery.
“I have something I can do with my day, today, that makes me feel connected to what's going on in Israel and I can do it with people who share my passion and concern,” Goldstein says.
To date, over 120 people have joined the local email list and WhatsApp group. On average about 35-40 people attend the weekly event and the group has never cancelled for weather.
Overall, there are 156 active groups around the world, including 12 in Canada. The Ottawa chapter meets on Sundays at 1pm and an email is sent out each week to confirm the location. To join the Ottawa/Gatineau group, click here.
When the day comes that there are no more hostages, the group plans to meet one more time in celebration.
“We'll have every flag from every nation who had hostages freed, we might even have all the posters. We would send an e-mail to every single participant who ever walked with us and encourage them all to come out for this one special time, our last time, to join us in celebration.”