Running for their lives: Homage paid to hostages 6 months into captivity

By Carl Zebrowski

Sunday, April 7, was six months to the day since Hamas attacked Israel and took more than 200 hostages. Over 130 of them have not been returned home.

“May it be six months and not a moment more,” said Tama Tamarkin, one of the organizers of a local group that meets every Sunday in a Lehigh Valley park to run or walk together as a public reminder of the hostages and call for their release. 

This week’s meeting had special meaning, marking the half-year point in captivity. “This gathering is our opportunity to come together to support each other,” said Naomi Schachter, “to support our hostages, and to hopefully be building this energy, this feeling of hope, and prayer, to bring them home.” 

Tamarkin, Schachter, and Miriam Zager had established the local group two months earlier. It’s part of Run for Their Lives, a global group with over 200 local chapters across the globe. Each week, supporters of all backgrounds, religions, and political affiliations gather, shoot a short video for posting, and then run or walk together (those who are able).

For this six-month-anniversary gathering, there was a short ceremony in the Lehigh Valley park to begin the event. Members of the community took turns reading the names of the hostages aloud. Some told hostages’ personal and family stories.

A middle school girl spoke passionately to the gathered. “We have the tenacity, the determination, to bring every one of the 134 hostages home!” she said. After that, she sang, as she has done famously at many Jewish community functions (and will do at the Yom HaZikaron ceremony on May 13 at the JCC).
Everyone pulled together to shoot the video. “Run for their lives. Bring them home now! Allentown, Pennsylvania,” they said in unison. Then they hit the trail, bearers of a large Run for Their Lives banner leading the way.

“We walk peacefully,” Tamarkin said. “It’s not a protest. It’s not a rally. We are not chanting.” The group is just making its presence known and drawing attention to the cause. 

Zager added, “It’s just one thing that we can do to keep the hostages in the front of our minds and think about what they’re going through, and hopefully bring a little more attention to their plight right now, and pray that something good will happen.”