Almost a decade and a half ago, our friend and neighbor, Yonatan Segal, started a race through the Gush Etzion Matnas in memory of his father. It has turned into quite a large happening and has, in different years, included a bike race, a swim race, a swim/run race, a 5k, 10k, 21k and a family 2k. This year, rather than having two events (one in Efrat and one in the Gush) these groups joined forces and created one large, amazing event.
Since I clued into this happening a number of years ago, I’ve made sure to sign the kids up and to enjoy it with them. This year, Yehuda ran his first 10k and Eliav ran his first 5k. Their feelings of accomplishment and pride were evident in the pictures.
|Yehuda as he finishes the 10k!|
|Eliav finishing the 5K!|
And the rest of the kids ran a 2k that was packed to the bursting point with families out for a great time together.
|Some of the guys getting ready|
|Even Yakir got in on the action with Josh.|
I couldn’t help but think about a community member as we ran and enjoyed. Rafi Novick has been a friend since soon after we landed in Israel. He was a talented and energetic appliance repair person and someone you could always – always – rely on. On Thursday, this man not much older than I am, passed away quite suddenly, leaving behind a wife and young son.
His loss left us all stunned. In the grocery store, I found myself listening to friends saying, “But he was just in my house last week.” And, “We were just discussing the bikes he’s been repairing.”
No one was able to believe that he had been taken from us so suddenly – so young. And I wondered, as my family ran and had a great day, if perhaps he and his son had planned to take part in the race. If there was a shirt draped over a chair in their house that would go unused, that would be in the way during Shiva.
I have many fond memories of Rafi. In a small area like the one in which we live, our repair people of all sorts are typically community members. We build a trusting relationship over time. My favorite memory of Rafi was the time that he asked me all about my Honda as he repaired my dishwasher. He had a lot to say about my Honda, a Honda he had owned, how best to maintain it, etc.
And then a few days later I received a call. “Romi,” the caller said with a sense of urgency. “Are you at the car store in Talpiot right now?”
I had no idea what he was talking about. “Um,” I said chuckling. “No, Rafi, I’m at home.”
“Oh good,” he said with such a sense of relief.” Because I saw your make and model car go into a store just now in Talpiot and it’s not the best store. So I wanted to recommend somewhere else to you instead.”
That was Rafi.
…and that, truly, is our lives.
That’s life in Gush Etzion with our repair people, with our neighbors, with our store owners. And with our fellow runners.
It was a beautiful, thrilling day on Friday and I loved watching the sheer joy and energy of everyone around me. We’ve been through a lot in the Gush lately, and this was a wonderful opportunity to get out and run and enjoy and be together.
If only there had been one more person among us that day.