Riverdale teens walk for Israeli hostage awareness

100-day walks held on Sundays at Seton Park to never forget Oct. 7 attacks


Two high school sophomores who live in Riverdale were inspired so much by family and friends who attended the 100-day rally at Central Park marking the first 100 days since the Oct. 7 terrorist attack on Israel that they decided to start a similar effort locally.

Ari Vogel, a sophomore at Abraham Joshua Heschel High School in Manhattan, and Netta Pack, a sophomore at Leffell High School in White Plains believed they could bring the message to Riverdale by starting their local “Running for Their Lives” walks.

The organization known as Run for Their Lives is a global run/walk event started by a group of Israelis in California, but local events are led by local communities independently. The 100-day rallies and walks are designed to remember those who were lost on Oct. 7 and the nearly 100 hostages who are still held by Hamas.

The walk is a nonviolent, family-friendly event that captivates the hostages of Hamas without calling out the traumatic events that happen overseas. The main goal is to increase awareness so that people do not forget about the events going on in Israel and call for the immediate release of the hostages held by Hamas.

Local communities meet once a week in a designated location in the neighborhood, for a short 1km walk/run. All levels of physical ability are welcome. Locally, people chose the Bell Tower monument as part of the walk.

“We thought it was really important that people know it’s been over 120 days since the hostages have been held in Gaza,” Vogel said. “And we just wanted to make sure that you know,  they’re always in our minds, always in our hearts and that we will never forget about them.

“Everybody’s always praying every day, even though we’re only walking on Sunday. We should every day still be thinking about them, every single day, praying for them and thinking about them. And I think that’s the kind of message we want to send with this walk.”

Pack added that they have attracted a good number of people to the walks.

“We realized that this awareness walk is something important to us,” Pack said. “We wanted to start locally and didn’t have that many people at first, but now we have 90 people (signed up) in the chat, and people are very excited about this event and the importance of it.”

Despite not having a big platform from their synagogue, Pack explained her friends throughout the community saw the importance of the cause and took part in the walk on the first Sunday.

“I think we know a lot of young people,” Pack said. “But it was also hard getting a crowd of young people to join on a Sunday morning, but I think that a lot of our friends and their parents joined and networked. And we all came together.”

Vogel appreciates the community he’s a part of and is thankful for his neighbors supporting the cause.

“We’re very, very lucky to live in a town that a lot of people here that are Jewish, and a lot of people here support Israel,” he said. “We even had three or four people drive by us walked by us, saying ‘bring them (the hostages) home’ and supporting us while we were walking. It’s pretty amazing to see and to not see people like, you know, being negative to us and trying to stop us from spreading the word, the positivity has been great.”

Both Vogel and Pack mentioned that on these Sunday walks they witnessed a lot of people enjoying themselves by coming together, people meeting new people, and community members becoming friends.

“If we keep doing these walks every Sunday, I think we’re going to make sure that everybody keeps the hostages, Israel, their homeland, in their minds and in their hearts,” Vogel said.

If you wish to take part in the Sunday walks, go to Seton Park at 9:55 a.m. on Sundays. The group will walk to Johnson and Riverdale avenues. To learn more about the Running for Their Lives organization, you can visit run4lives.org

Seton Park, Oct. 7, Hamas, Israel, terrorism, war, Gaza, hostages, Jewish, Palestinians, Neeta Pack, Ari Vogel, Running for Their Lives