Haile Satayin, a.k.a Ayele Seteng (b. 1955) was born in Ethiopia. He immigrated to Israel in 1991 as part of ‘Operation Solomon’, when 35 Israeli Air Force and El Al aircraft amazingly transported over 14,000 Ethiopians to Israel in just 36 hours. The secret operation was launched in response to the collapsing Ethiopian government, and subsequent rumours of war and attacks on Ethiopia’s Jews, known as Beta Israel. In Israel, Seteng pursued his dreams and became a professional long-distance runner. He soon won a number of Israeli national championships, then moved on to international competitions, and competed all over the world. In 2004, he represented Israel at the Athens Olympics, and at nearly fifty years of age, was the oldest track athlete there. Four years later, he qualified again for the Beijing Olympics, making him the oldest runner once more. He nearly made it to the London Olympics in 2012, too, despite being 57 years old. Of this he has said: “My age is old, but my heart is young.” His Tel-Aviv half-marathon (21 km) time of 1:03:43 and Venice Marathon (42 km) time of 2:14:21 are still Israeli records. The father of seven children, he has won 31 national titles, and holds the record for being the oldest person ever to compete in a IAAF World Championship. In 2011, an Israeli documentary, Seret Ratz (“Running Movie”) was made about him.
Pharaoh commanded his people: “Every son that is born shall be cast into the River” (Exodus 1:22). The Nile was the mainstay of the Egyptian economy and its most venerated god. Therein lay the deeper—still relevant—significance of Pharaoh’s decree: Today, too, Jewish survival depends on our ability to resist the dictum that children must be submerged within an educational system whose focus and goal is the attainment of a “career” and “economic success…” – Menachem Mendel Schneerson, The Lubavitcher Rebbe
Maickel Melamed (b. 1975) was born in Caracas, Venezuela. At birth, the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck, choking him and causing severe damage to his body. Doctors said he would never be able to walk or talk. Despite this, he battled on and spent his entire childhood in rehabilitation. Even when, at age 13, doctors confirmed he would never be “normal”, Melamed never gave up hope. He learned to walk, run and climb. Today, not only is he able to speak, but he now converses fluently in three languages. In 2006, Melamed climbed Venezuela’s tallest mountain. Following this he trained gruelingly and ran several half-marathons before completing his first full marathon in 2012. He plans to run several more in the coming years. Meanwhile, Melamed earned a degree in economics, as well as psychotherapy, and teaches at the Caracas Jewish School which he himself attended in his youth. In 2009, Melamed co-founded Paz Con Todo, an organization that inspires young people to work for peace around the world, and has worked together with the United Nations to promote peace. Melamed’s story has served as a great inspiration to countless people across the globe. Today, he works as a lecturer and life coach throughout the Americas, and has written his first book. He has dedicated his life to helping and inspiring others. Of his incredible ability to run marathons despite his disabilities, Melamed has said: “Every step is not a step; it’s a possibility to connect another person with their own miraculous possibilities. When you live for others, an energy that’s bigger than yourself comes in and helps you succeed…”
Words of the Week
All that is thought should not be said, all that is said should not be written, all that is written should not be published, and all that is published should not be read.
– Menachem Mendel of Kotzk, the Kotzker Rebbe