Alumni Alum Spotlight: Julie Kolman Powell

By Young Judaea

By Julie Kolman Powell Sprout Lake, Tel Yehudah, Year Course 1984 Alum, Former Regional Mazkira

It took me less that 10 minutes to decide I was attending the Young Judaea Alumni trip back in January 2024 to Israel, and 8 months to process it.

Like always, I communicate first with my running shoes.

This past week, and without telling anyone prior, I ran three half marathons, in three states, three days in a row. I did this with Gili Adar’s picture on my back which was given to me by her parents at her grave when I visited Israel. I never met Gili, but she was a Israeli Scout at Camp Tel Yehudah, a camp I love and a camp my daughter loves.

Gili’s parent’s described Gili as ‘their sunshine’ and the world’s sunshine. Anyone that met her apparently remembers her smile and that she lit up a room with her beautiful blond hair and her personality. Her parent’s told us she loved traveling and seeing the world. So, I took her with me to Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah and told her story to people in places that likely would never have heard it before. Gili and I ran 13.1 miles in each state. Every day people would ask me about who was on my back. I told them about Gili’s spirit as described to me by her parents and I shared with them what happened on October 7th, and of her murder by Hamas. In Wyoming, Utah, and Idaho some of these folks had never met a Jew before, or anyone from Israel, or heard the story of October 7th. They asked questions and they blessed me and the Adars. Gili’s parents and I communicated on Facebook and I was so moved by how much this gesture meant to them.

On the third day I was tired. It was mile nine in Utah. I wasn’t sure how or where I was going to find the energy to finish and all I could see were fields, endless fields. I remember driving around the Gaza envelope on our trip and seeing a similar image, the fields where the Nova victims and survivors ran for their lives. In their memory, I took off like a rocket. I came in third that day in my age group.

I hope in some small way I honored their lives and the lives lost at Nova. We must never forget them. They are all important to their friends and family and to me.

To the hostages, ”Be Strong and Survive.”

To their families I think of you everyday.

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