Tehilla (L) and Liba Yoffe training for Jerusalem Marathon (Courtesy) (Courtesy)
Tehilla and Liba Yoffe.

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After a 10-year-old girl’s dream to run the Jerusalem Marathon with her mother was dashed due to the coronavirus, Israeli soldiers came to the rescue.

By Tsivya Fox-Dobuler

Tehilla Yoffe, 10, and her mother Liba trained for months in Arizona to participate in the Jerusalem Marathon, only to have their dreams crushed when the event was cancelled due to the coronavirus.

The mother-daughter team had prepared for months to run the marathon. Liba planned to run the half marathon and Tehilla was slated for the 5k.

Liba shared their disappointment on social media, and an Israel Defense Force (IDF) soldier saw her post and decided to send a personal  message from her group of caring soldiers on Wednesday.

“We had a count-down chart to the marathon with the days and times noted when we would train together,” Liba told United with Israel (UWI). “Tehilla practiced running with me a few times a week. When I told her the marathon was cancelled, she burst out crying. We were looking forward to this special bonding experience and being in Israel together.”

IDF officer Keren Hajoff saw Liba’s Facebook post about Tehilla’s disappointment and reached out. “She asked me if I thought Tehilla would like getting a video from IDF officers and to share a bit about her,” Liba told UWI. “I was moved beyond words.”

Liba told Hajoff that Tehilla has “a huge personality, is outgoing, fearless, and strong. She loves a party and is up for anything fun, loves sports, especially gymnastics and karate. And, hates school.”

Running for a Cause

Hajoff gathered a group of IDF soldiers, who spoke directly to Tehilla in English, giving love and encouragement. “The video bought me to tears,” Liba said. “It made me swell with pride to be Jewish and bring people together with love and kindness.”

As for Tehilla, “She couldn’t stop smiling after watching the video,” Liba said. “She especially liked when one of the soldiers said he also didn’t like school.”

Liba posted the IDF soldiers’ video on her social media platforms. She wrote, “This is the message from the Beautiful Strong IDF soldiers.”

Liba and Tehilla were inspired by Beatie Deutsch, an orthodox Jewish mother of five who was a contender for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics until they changed the competition to Shabbat.

The two young mothers planned to run the marathon, not only for sport but also to raise money for Beit Daniella, a rehabilitative day center for youth with eating disorders and mental health challenges, located outside Jerusalem. “This cause holds a special place in my personal life,” Liba said.

Tehilla, who suffers from alopecia areata, a condition that causes hair loss, was running the marathon to inspire confidence in others.