Will you be rooting for the Israeli Bobsled Team during the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing?
Most people don’t know that Israel – a country with few mountains, a mostly warm climate, and little snow – has been fielding winter teams every four years since 1994. The small country has competed at Olympic Games since 1952 and has won a total of nine medals. Twenty-nine year-old lawyer / real estate broker Jared Firestone, a native of Hollywood, Florida, has been training for Israel’s Skeleton National Team. Skeleton, a one-person version of the bobsled race, is an event where the competitor rides prone, head-first downhill on a sled, reaching up to 80 mph on a one-mile course. Currently the team includes three men and one woman.
“My family took me skiing in Colorado when I was six,” Jared says. “But I was too scared to go downhill. Now the height and speed don’t scare me.” He practices year-round in Lake Placid, NY; Park City, Utah; and in Germany. “I like that my training takes me to historic and interesting places, including three tracks in Germany, one of which is near Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest retreat.” He made aliyah and has dual U. S. – Israel citizenship.
There are several life events that drew Jared to a love for Israel, his family history and heritage. He attended Scheck Hillel day school in North Miami Beachwhere he got a solid background in Jewish history and Holocaust studies. One of Jared’s great-grandmother's siblings perished in the Holocaust along with 7 of her 8 children. His great-grandmother had come to the U. S. in the 1920's.
“My outlook dramatically changed when I participated in the March of the Living (MOTL) in 2008,” says Jared. (Annually, MOTL brings thousands of teens from around the world to Poland and Israel). “The March will always be the most meaningful trip of my life. Being in Poland, standing on the same ground where not so long ago my people suffered the worst human atrocity of all time, gave me a much greater understanding of the importance that we never forget what happened. Also, having the opportunity to travel from Poland to Israel in the same trip instilled an appreciation for Israel I never had before.
“In the years since, I returned to Israel multiple times to participate in volunteer programs and am now about to become an Israeli citizen. If not for the March, I wouldn’t have done any of these things. It’s important for teens to take this trip to help them pass along this knowledge and appreciation to future generations, so they too can grow a passion for Israel, and ensure that Israel's existence is never taken for granted. I’m using the athlete platform to promote organizations that are important to Israel’s welfare."
Irv Kempner of Sharon, Mass., Chair of the Massachusetts Chapter of March of the Living who met Jared’s parents during the 2016 Adult MOTL trip, isn’t surprised that Jared’s MOTL experience changed his life. He points to a CUNY survey of past MOTL alumni showing that 95% said their participation strengthened their Jewish identity and their bond with Israel. Moved by Jared’s story, Kempner donated toward Jared’s training through his Kempner Family Foundation and urged others to support the team which must raise their own funds for equipment, training and travel. The cost is about $45,000 per team member.
Jared says, “I owe much of my interest and training success to Adam Edelman, a Boston native, who represented Israel at the Skeleton event at the 2018 Winter Olympics. The most important thing is that there will be a lasting image of another Israeli walking behind the blue and white flag. I want to challenge the perception of what Jews and Israelis can do in sports.” In Pyongchang, South Korea, Israel boasted its largest-ever team for the Winter Olympics– 10 athletes -- double the size of its 2014 Winter Olympics team in Sochi. They competed in four sports: figure skating, short-track speed skating, alpine skiing and skeleton.
Jared says, “Representing the Jewish state holds a special significance. People know now that I’m part of Team Israel. “It’s great to hear that over the loudspeaker when they’re announcing the competitors and the countries they represent.”
To learn more about Jared and ways to support the team through Team Gear and Sponsorships, visit his website https://jfireisraelslider.com/
For info about the 2020 Adult March contact Mel Mann: 305-338-6697 / firstname.lastname@example.org.
For teen registration, applications and information contact: Aaron L Kischel, Director of MOTL Teen Programming, Day Schools, Synagogues & Youth Movements / email@example.com / 781-799-4765. Scholarships up to $2,000 are available.
For online donations: https://motlnewengland.org/. To support the ability of future teenagers to attend the March of the Living program from New England, mail checks to: CJP March of the Living Scholarship Fund, Kraft Family building, 126 High Street, Boston MA 02110. Include ‘March of the Living’ on the memo line.
For Major Gifts donations, contact Jim Slovin – Jim@MOTLnewengland.org. MOTL is a 501 (c) (3) charity to the extent allowed by law,
By Stanley Hurwitz - firstname.lastname@example.org | Originally Issued in June 2019