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Team Yachad members included students who ran with 60-year-old Israel Dienstag, who sat in a special wheelchair designed for running.

Team Yachad Jerusalem members, 214 strong, reached the finish line at the Jerusalem 10K, Half-Marathon and Marathon on March 1, exemplifying Yachad’s mission of inclusion for those living with disabilities within the broad Jewish community all the way to the finish line.

Participating with Team Yachad Jerusalem was Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, national director of Yachad/The National Jewish Council for Disabilities (NJCD), who has run the ING Miami Half-Marathon with Team Yachad in 2010, which he established four years ago.

Each participant committed to raise $500 for Yachad/NJCD’s Israel Chapter. In return, Yachad provided a personalized training regimen offered by Coach Chaim Wizman of Beit Shemesh; official Team Yachad race gear; guaranteed race admission; a pre-race pasta party and post-race barbecue.

“The Talmud indicates that every four steps a Jew takes in Eretz Yisroel is a mitzvah,” noted Yoel Sterman, co-director of Yachad Israel. “Team Yachad Jerusalem not only managed to raise funds to continue promoting Yachad’s goals of inclusion within the Jewish community but together, ran 1,480,045 mitzvahs. In so many ways, they united to be part of a greater purpose.”

“Team Yachad members truly exemplified its motto of ‘Running Hand-in-Hand,’ especially as two groups of three or four runners ran alongside team members in wheelchairs,” Sterman emphasized. “Three students from Yeshivat Lev HaTorah ran with 60-year-old Israel Dienstag, who sat in a special wheelchair designed for running; and two students from Machon Lev College ran with Zev Chaim Kastner, a young boy who participated in his wheelchair.”

In an ‘only in Israel’ experience, a goat befriended Sterman during his run, and stayed beside him all the way from the Old City of Jerusalem to the finish line (5K). “The goat started following me as we left the Old City,” said Yoel with a smile. “At the finish line, the goat was given water, food and a Team Yachad T-shirt!”