By Abigail Klein Leichman - March 18, 2018

Originally appeared here in Israel21c 

Israeli businesswoman and avid “social jogger” Shirith Kesher didn’t set out to form Israel’s largest youth athletics club. She only wanted to prove to a friend that lack of opportunities was the reason so few girls from Israel’s Ethiopian community were competing in running sports. Her friend insisted the reason was lack of interest.

“So I established a team for girls at a school for immigrants in South Tel Aviv, and by the end of the year we had a great team of 20 girls,” says Kesher, founder of Alley Runners (Ratzei Hasimta in Hebrew).

“The boys wanted it as well so we opened a long-distance running group with 40 kids and won some championships in Israel. Once we succeeded, we hired Yuval Carmi, a professional coach.”

That was six years ago. Today, the nonprofit Alley Runners has about 70 runners in its senior track and 100 junior runners, aged 14 and 15.

The program is active in five schools in Tel Aviv and one in Or Yehuda, while another chapter is forming in Beit Shemesh. Most, but not all, the participants are Ethiopian Jews who immigrated to Israel in the last five years. Some are African refugees, a few are native Israelis. Read More