As rain continued to pour and students were returning to campus from church services with Bibles in their hands, Jewish students from the Jewish Heritage Programs (JHP) were on a mission of their own as more than 40 people gathered in front of the William Pitt Union (WPU) to do a Walkathon in support of Israel.
The walk started at 1:30 p.m. at WPU preceded by registration and a concert by brothers Matthew and Jonathon Check of the Univesrity of Pittsburgh.
officer escorted the walk members as 3 students led the walk holding a Jewish
Heritage Program banner. The cross campus walk began at WPU and ended at WPU
after they reached the corner of Forbes and Morewood at CMU.
It took the participants one half hour to do the walk. The walk was preceded by a fundraiser to support the victims of terror in Israel through the Schneiders Children’s Medical Center of Israel.
Brooke Lazowick, a Pitt Alumni and program director for the Jewish Heritage Program got the idea for the walk and with the help of other passionate Jewish students made it a reality at Pitt and CMU.
According to Lazowick, the JHP is a social organization that is geared towards unaffiliated Jewish students. Some of its events include holiday parties, singled-out, match-maker, and events to celebrate Shabbath and Jewish holidays.
She was pleased with the turnout from the group.
“For being a rainy day, I am very impressed that there were at least 40 [participants]. This is the first one we have done. Students want to do something. It is a chance for students to get out and do something such as raising money and giving the money to Schneider’s hospital”, said Lazowick.
Lazowick emphasized that the money raised would not only help Jewish children but all children that have been admitted to Schneider’s hospital regardless of religion.
The walk was sponsored to promote peace and to rally against all types of terrorism.
Lazowick said, “We are geared towards unaffiliated Jewish students and are not a political organization at all. We believe in peace and are not holding a sign saying, ‘Kill all Palestinians’ but we are Jewish.”
Lazowick was pleased to have student leaders who run the programs as she serves as a guide if they need help. Students echoed Lazowick’s reasons for walking.
Alitza Shoss, a Pitt Sophomore got involved in the walk to support Israel.
“I am Jewish and it is important to represent Israel in support of the Jewish communities throughout the world. Although it was small it sent a powerful message about Jewish unity on college campuses”, said Shoss.
Daniel Fuks, a Pitt Freshman got involved in the walk after putting fliers across campus because he felt it would be hypocritical not to.
“What we did today has a good cause and I am happy to take part in it. A walk shows solidarity among the Jews despite the political philosophies and religions differ”, said Fuks.
Fuks reiterated if nothing else people can agree that terrorism is wrong and people must help victims of terrorism.
Rabbi Shmuel Weinstein, an advisor for the JHP and Chabbad House agreed with Fuks during his closing remarks after the walk.
“To the determined people who did the walk and who raised money, thank you! Terrorism is an ugly thing and came to the forefront on 9-11 and needs to be fought. Israel has been under siege for a long time even before the State of Israel formed. It is the struggle for the existence of Israel we support”, said Weinstein.
Weinstein ended his comments with a wishful hope.
“We wish there will be a day God-willing when all the terror will disappear. We should be dancing in the streets of Israel”, said Weinstein.
The event ended with a donated meal from Saris’ restaurant based in Squirrel Hill and an announcement that $800.00 was raised to give to Schneider’s.
Lazowick stated that this money will be added to the money raised by the students across the United States from other universities who also had the Walkathon. Many posed for a picture after the walk.
Photos by Ramesh C. Reddy
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