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Marine Parkers Run for Israeli Lives

Ita Yankovich

Every Sunday morning at nine, Ronit Deutsch dons her sneakers and runs the perimeter of Marine Park for 18 minutes. After she completes the loop, she stops to daven. She is joined by a group wearing matching red shirts, including her friends Miriam Kinsberg and Rachel Mohl Abrahms. Their goal? To raise awareness for the 134 individuals held captive by Hamas since October 7.

“After the attack, we all had this fire burning within us to take action,” says Ronit Deutsch, a social worker and mother of two. “Unfortunately, as the days and months go by, that fire is dying down. But we must not forget our brothers and sisters trapped in the deepest pits of hell. We must continue to talk about the hostages!” 

Driven by this plight, Ronit established the Marine Park chapter of Run for Their Lives, a global grassroots organization founded by Shany Klein and a group of Israelis living in California that advocates for the immediate release of the remaining hostages in Gaza. Since January 21, about 15 people have been meeting at Avenue S and East 32 Street each Sunday to walk in unity and bring attention to the hostage situation.  

How does walking help promote hostage release? The agenda of Run for Their Lives is to promote exposure that will pressure Hamas to release the hostages and obey the rules of war. Organizers of the initiative believe that making this into a global movement shows world leaders and elected officials that the local population cares; it is not a solely an Israeli problem. 

Steps of Solace

Shira Weiss, an administrator of the Run for Their Lives Syosset-Plainview group, explains that the organization shares weekly news recaps and posts on social media platforms to raise awareness of the hostage situation. They also broadcast events with local news outlets and secure participation from elected officials. However, Shifra tells me, the organization’s most profound impact lies in offering solace and strength to the hostages’ families and loved ones. The parents of 22-year-old Omer Neutra, an American citizen and IDF tank commander who has been held hostage by Hamas since October 7, were invited to join the Syosset group. The grandfather of Hersh Goldberg-Polin, a 23-year-old who was kidnapped from the Nova Music Festival, was invited to join the Boca-Parkland group. The heartfelt demonstration of solidarity and emotional expression deeply moved the hostages’ family members.

Ronit clarifies that the weekly gatherings are not rallies or protests, but rather, “a weekly gathering to continue raising awareness of the ongoing global humanitarian crisis.” The walks are about awareness, not incitement. The Run for Their Lives website cautions participants to walk affably and not protest, disturb neighbors, or block roads, in stark contrast to the typical pro-Palestinian gatherings. Their guiding principle is “Make it about humanity. It’s about the innocent civilians being held by terrorists, not about the war.”

To highlight the universality of their mission, Ronit shares a recent memorable experience when the group encountered two men – one of whom identified as Catholic and the other as Buddhist – who asked about the hostages and shared encouragement. “As they looked at the photos of the hostages on our posters, they prayed for their release,” Ronit says. “One of them asked, ‘What did a 19-year-old and an 80-year-old do to deserve this?’” The two men pointed out that some of the hostages are not even Jewish or Israeli, but of Thai, Argentinian, and Filipino descent. 

Meet You at the Park

Marine Park resident Rachel Mohl Abrams and her husband Stuart have been walking with Run for Their Lives every week since January. “It’s important to show the families that we support them around the world,” Rachel shares. “It’s crucial to continue to bring attention to the plight of the hostages. When people see us walking, it brings the issue into focus. It’s wonderful to walk with people of like mind who all care.”   

Miriam Kinsberg is another Marine Park resident who is committed to the walk, even during the harshest weather days. For Miriam, the walk is personal: Her son was recently drafted into the IDF as a lone soldier in the tzanchanim (paratroopers) division. 

“Ever since the war broke out, I haven’t been feeling like myself,” Miriam tells me. To be proactive, Miriam and a neighbor began hanging up flyers of the hostages. A visit to Tel Aviv’s Hostage Square days before her son was drafted left her shaken. She spoke with family members of the hostages, some of whom maintain their vigil there 24/7. One woman was there for a cousin whose fate in Gaza is still unknown. 

When Miriam returned to the States, she joined Run for Their Lives.

“One Sunday it was freezing cold,” Miriam recalls, “but I asked myself how I could complain when the hostages are in much worse conditions. These walks are important to send the message to the hostages and their families that ‘You are not forgotten. We will not let you be forgotten. We share in your pain and will not stop until they are back home in your arms.’” 

I ask Ronit if the group ever faces any negative backlash from the public and she responds that thankfully they have not. If anything, the opposite occurs. “We get lots of thumbs-up and encouragement from the runners and walkers in the park,” she says. “Cars honk in approval as they drive by. Some people ask to take our picture.” 

Next time you are bored on a Sunday, take the time to get some fresh air, exercise, and most importantly, raise awareness about the plight of the hostages. 

“Let’s set aside excuses,” says Miriam, “trust me, I have plenty myself! But please, do consider joining us.” 

“These walks are important to send the message out to the hostages and their families that ‘You are not forgotten,” adds Ronit. “‘We will not let you be forgotten. We share in your pain and will not stop until they are back home in your arms.’”  


Worldwide Walking Warriors

Run for Their Lives includes 171 groups across 19 countries, including Argentina, Australia, India, and Japan. New York has over 18 active boroughs. Each week, local communities gather for a 1-kilometer walk lasting 18 minutes – symbolic for “chai” or “life” in Hebrew – and recite Perek 126 of Tehillim. Participants don red t-shirts or hats emblazoned with slogans like “Bring Them Home!” and carry signs displaying the flags of countries whose citizens are among the hostages. The groups plan to continue their rain-or-shine gatherings until the hostages are released. 

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