By the way,” she adds, “Colmar-Neuilly Sur Marine, France is the town that sent America the Statue of Liberty. They have their own mini statue of liberty standing in their town as well.”
I ask Dorit why she pushes herself so hard, what drives her to compete in these races?
“I enjoy it, it keeps me healthy and gives me time to think. I’m a big believer in women (and men) taking care of their bodies, doing everything they can to stay in shape. You gotta eat right and exercise,” she says.
She does admit that you don’t have to walk 24 hours straight under the hot sun and cold nights in Malaysia to keep in shape. But it certainly would make one’s exercise routine interesting!
When Dorit is not race walking, she is employed by the Lakewood Township Public Works and a part time associate at the local Home Depot. She is also an Iraqi war veteran and in the United States army reserves since 1997.
“I have been a volunteer all my life,” Dorit says. “Since age ten I have been active in some community organization. As a child myself, I taught table tennis to younger children in Eilat. I like to help others.”
For the last 18 years Dorit has been a volunteer firefighter for the Lakewood Fire Department. She was its president from 1999 to 2001 and was active in relief efforts during Hurricane Sandy. I ask Dorit if she notices a higher incidence of fires at particular times of the year. She says in the beginning of the winter, usually. The culprit is often malfunctioning heaters. Although, thank G-d, the fires are usually non-life threatening (as “non life threatening” as fires can be), there was a time she had to pull someone out of his house to escape.
Dorit’s latest achievement – and perhaps most exciting because it combines her passion for sports and her passion for giving – is her invitation to join the Maccabiah games in Israel this coming June. The Maccabiah games have been dubbed the “Jewish Olympics.” Over 7,700 Jewish athletes from sixty countries from around the world compete. It is considered the third biggest sports event in the world and takes place every four years. But Maccabiah’s true mission is building Jewish pride and identity with sports as the conduit. Their aim is to connect primarily young Jews with the Jewish world, enable them to rediscover their roots and gain a sense of belonging to the Jewish people. There have even been shidduchim, marriage matches, made over the years through Maccabiah.
There is no race walking competition in Maccabiah, however, so Dorit went back to her former sport of table tennis. Tryouts were held in North Jersey and it was a great honor when she was chosen to represent the US Maccabi Table Tennis team.
“What might, unfortunately, prevent me from competing, though,” Dorit confides to me, “is that in order to attend, each competitor is obligated to raise over $6,000 to sponsor another athlete – a Jewish child from an underprivileged background who could not afford to participate otherwise. It is a life-altering event when these young Jewish athletes get to participate in Maccabiah, competing alongside other Jewish children in healthy sports. Being part of an organization like this fosters Jewish pride and healthy self esteem. It is an honor for me to be part of their team. I remember as a child myself, many years ago, I participated in the half marathon (13 mile race) – it is an experience I will not forget.”
As we conclude our interview, I marvel at the many roles Dorit has taken upon herself. And with such ease. I think of the well known saying – the one about how you can’t imagine what it is like to be another person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. And I think to myself, in Dorit’s case, you’d have to walk at least 99 miles in her shoes just to get an inkling of all she does!
For information regarding contributing to the tax deductible 501c Maccabiah sponsor-an-athlete program, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org