Who We Are
Ritzah: The Jewish Running Project is a collective of collegiate and post-collegiate NCAA Jewish runners bridging the worlds of competitive distance running and engaged Jewish life.
We have two major initiatives. Our first project is Machaneh Ritzah: The Jewish Running Camp, which will be held in conjunction with Ramah Sports Academy July 25 – August 1, 2023. Additionally, our team is working on increasing the accessibility of the NCAA recruiting process for talented Israeli runners by providing English lessons and developing networks of coaches, runners, and schools.
Every member of the Ritzah team grew up with a strong Jewish identity and a passion for running. However, we often felt a distance between our two core identities. Our Jewish communities didn’t understand our commitment to running. Our running communities didn’t understand our commitment to Judaism. Yet this dialectic isn’t inevitable. We envision Machaneh Ritzah as a radically new type of Jewish space – one where young American Jewish runners can be their whole selves.
Our camp will draw on two incredibly powerful traditions. On one hand, high school distance running is a unique subculture characterized by intense camaraderie and joyful goofiness. University cross country camps, such as those offered by Duke and University of Wisconsin, have already pioneered short term high quality training programs. On the other hand, American Jewish camping offers superb community and identity building experiences. Every member of the Ritzah team can attest to their impact. Machaneh Ritzah will synthesize these two identities to offer an innovative outlet for Jewishly-involved runners as well as provide new opportunities for Jewish runners struggling to find their niche.
Machaneh Ritzah’s is centered on five core pillars.
- Zehut (Identity) Campers will see their running and Jewish identities as compatible and mutuality reinforcing.
- Tacharut (Competition) Campers will experience a high quality training program.
- Ruchaniut (Spirituality) Campers will explore running as a vehicle for Jewish spirituality.
- Kvutzah (Community) Campers will build a fun, supportive, and welcoming Jewish running environment.
- Chinuch (Education) Campers will use Jewish values, traditions, and texts to develop healthy attitudes towards teamwork and competition.
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