Former Ottawan hikes across Israel for Sderot

OTTAWA — Former Ottawa resident Brandon Marlon, who made aliyah this past December, has teamed up with two friends on a 40-day hike across Israel to benefit child victims of terror in Sderot and Jerusalem.

The hike will take Marlon and his buddies Bradley Cohen of England and Jeremy Ziskind of the United States from Tel Dan in the north to Eilat in the south.

The trio plans to “traverse lush green hills of Galilee and the Golan Heights, sweep down through the plains and hill country of Samaria and Judea, descending finally into the rocky terrain of the mountainous Negev Desert,” Marlon said, adding that they will rest on Shabbat and spend Passover in Jerusalem.

Their fundraising goal of $10,000 will go to help young terror victims who have been suffering from rocket attacks on Sderot, as well as last month’s attack on the Merkaz HaRav yeshiva in Jerusalem.

The money will be funnelled through the Jerusalem-based Kids for Kids, a charity that raises money for such initiatives as Bet Hayeled, a home for abused and abandoned children in northern Israel, and the Forgotten People Fund, which provides food vouchers and education to the new Ethiopian Jewish population in Netanya.

The 28-year-old Marlon grew up in Ottawa, where his parents and younger brother still live. A professional writer, who is continuing to work as a playwright for Ottawa’s Odyssey Theatre while living in Jerusalem, he is also investigating work opportunities in English theatre in Jerusalem, and he plans to organize a series of charity events such as nightclub evenings and poetry readings.

The concept of tikkun olam is not new to Marlon. Having participated in birthright israel, he applied for and received a grant for birthright alumni who want to become more involved in their local Jewish communities through various projects. In October 2007, prior to moving to Israel, he organized a special screening of the 2006 film Footprints: the 20th Century Jewish Exodus from Moslem Lands at Library and Archives Canada.  

“A film night is a much easier way to support Sderot,” said Marlon in a telephone conversation “from the road” on day three of the hike.

The trail was very mountainous and proving to be exhausting.

“One step at a time is my motto,” he said.

Nevertheless, he was looking forward to the rest of the adventure.

“Doing nothing is not an option,” he said. “No private individual should shirk his or her portion of responsibility for their fellow citizens. Children are always society’s most vulnerable, and never more so than in these times of terror in Israel.”

To sponsor Marlon by donating to Kids for Kids, contact Tyler Golden at Canadian Friends of Kids for Kids, 604-831-9854.