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  • Writer's pictureAnnon

Team Airy - Jerusalem Marathon Team Feature

“As hard as it is to talk about topics people don't want to, too scared of, embarrassed etc,...I do believe when things are not spoken about they tend to get swept under the rug and leave people hanging, lost. I really do hope that awareness of all types such as mental illness, addiction and so many others that have almost become a "bad thing" continues, till the day it's not something to be frowned upon, but accepted, because we're all human, no one is perfect... And we don't have to deal with it alone.”

Airy Ariella Ellis, October, 2017

Airy Ariella Ellis z”l was a passionate and deeply caring young woman, known in many circles for her incredible energy, supportive nature, and magnetic personality. Originally from Philadelphia, Airy moved to Jerusalem as a teen, and went on to manage the city’s famed Off the Wall Comedy Club. Airy was deeply religious in her own way, and was a proud Zionist who loved Israel. She was a talented singer, active in many sports, and spent many happy days with her wide circle of friends and Gingie, her much loved dog.

Airy struggled with emotional health challenges for many years, and credited various therapists and rehab programs with saving her life. The comedy club she managed was more than an entertainment hotspot. Thanks in large part to Airy, it became known as a refuge for many young Anglos, including gap year students and young olim, who were facing their own challenges with mental illness, substance abuse or loneliness. Airy’s own experiences made her deeply sensitive to the pain of others and interested in helping people no matter what their background, and many people from across the religious spectrum credited her with saving their lives.

Airy was a force of nature, making the most of every day and always giving everything her all. Because of the strength that she projected, even those close to her didn’t fully appreciate just how difficult it was for her to keep going. Ultimately, a family tragedy led to a relapse, and Airy became trapped in a downward spiral. Tragically, Airy died in January 2020, at the age of 33.

Dana Lavi is a photographer who has photographed many Kav L’Noar events over the years and is a true friend of our organization. She was also a very close friend of Airy. Looking for a fitting way to honor Airy, Dana brought together a group of Airy’s friends to run for Kav L’Noar at the 2020 Jerusalem marathon in memory of Airy. The group raised many generous donations, which Kav L’Noar used to provide therapy and support for young people experiencing unprecedented emotional health challenges during the lockdowns of that year- a fitting tribute to a young woman who did so much to help so many dealing with similar difficulties. The 2020 marathon was postponed until October 2021 and Team Airy were proud participants. Now, they are training once again and preparing for another race in loving memory of Airy.

Encouraging others to join and contribute as much as they can to this special run for a much missed friend requires a lot of effort and perseverance. But Dana wants this to be a permanent annual memorial, crediting Airy’s energy that she still feels all around her as the encouragement she needs to keep it going. As she says simply when asked why she’s doing this again, “how could I not do it?” Another friend from the group echoed that feeling, saying, “after everything that Airy did for me, after everything Airy would have done for anyone, how could I say no to this?”

REGISTER (Closing date Mar 7, 2022)

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