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Olympic Hopeful Addresses YoF Senior Class

Olympic Hopeful Addresses YoF Senior Class
Posted on 02/14/2019
Olympic Hopeful Addresses YoF Senior Class

On Thursday afternoon (2/14), the Senior class of the Yeshivah of Flatbush gathered in the new Bet Midrash for a very special and rather unique guest speaker. Addressing the class was Beatie Deutsch. What makes her different is not that she is a world-class runner, nor that she is a mother of five, nor that she is Israeli, and nor that she is a Torah-Observant Modern Orthodox Jew. What makes her different is that she is ALL of these things, and more! She is an inspiration, and she joined the students to share her experience and some life lessons she has herself learned during her journey to prominence on a very public stage.

 Beatie Deutsch

Beatie joined the students amidst a whirlwind tour of the NY-metropolitan area that included meetings with students at a number of area yeshivot, local runners clubs and an interview for an article slated to appear in a future issue of Sports Illustrated.

 Rabbi Beyda Introduces

After in introduction from HS Principal Rabbi Beyda, the students watched a short video produced by Yediot Achronot that had aired on the network in Israel. Beatie Deutsch then stepped forward and shared her story with the Senior class.

 Yediot Achronot News Piece

After making Aliyah in 2008, she met her husband and got married in 2009 and by 2015 the couple had settled in the Har Nof section of Jerusalem where they raised their 4 children.

She started training in 2015 as a means of getting back in shape after 4 pregnancies left the generally athletic Deutsch (she holds a black belt in Tae-Kwon-Do) feeling very much out of shape. At that time, she never imagined she would ever compete as a runner. She was just looking to regain her former level of fitness, and running seemed a logical pathway. But running can be taxing, and so she needed a goal to keep focused early on. That goal was the 2016 Jerusalem Half-marathon. For that, she knew she needed to prepare. Her first test: a timed 12-lap run of the course at Gan Sacher in Jerusalem (basically the equivalent of a half marathon), and she completed the run in 1 hour and 40 min! (Basically an 8 min mile pace which would translate into a 3:30:30 marathon). She was amazed!

As an observant Modern Orthodox Jew, she runs in modest attire according to the expectations of the Orthodox community. She has drawn some attention from other runners as a result, but it has not had any negative impact, either from her fellow runners nor from her own performance. She actually sees it as a positive as it brings focus to her running, keeping Hashem at the forefront in all she does.

 Speaking to the Senior Class

She went on to compete in her first marathon later that year, the 2016 Tel Aviv Marathon, and again turned in a time that was beyond her expectations: she began with a goal of staying on pace for 8 min miles, but felt extremely good and picked up pace midway through the race. She eventually moved up to a 7:30 mile pace and finished in 3:27 (a time that would have qualified for the Boston Marathon).

Most recently, she raced in the 2018 Tiberias Marathon. Her goal was to finish in under 2 hours and 45 minutes (the USA Olympic qualifying time), and be the top Israeli finisher in the race. By the midway point, she realized she was trailing another Israeli – the favorite - and believed she was going to let down her coaches. But, the race was not over and though it looked impossible, she pushed her pace. She soon moved into second place, then caught her the pace pack, and kept pushing harder. She eventually caught up to the leader and with a few kilometers left; the leader faded. Knowing she was done she encouraged Beatie to push on. Deutsch finished in 2:42:00 as the new Israeli champion – in so doing achieving the Israeli Olympic qualifying time!

 Tiberias Marathon Champion

Her sights are now set on representing Israel in the upcoming Olympics. She needs to run 3:37:00 Marathon to qualify for Tokyo, but she knows it is a realistic goal. She now has a measure of financial support from the Israel Olymic Committee and a contract with Nike.

 Beatie Deutsch

After sharing her personal story, Shared lessons with the students that she has learned from her journey to becoming a world-class runner:

Shared three lessons from her running:
the first was in the form of the support she received at home when she began training. Her husband encouraged her to approach her running with the following in mind - push your limits, do not be afraid to take a risk, step out of your comfort zone.

Hashem sends us tests, like the way Abraham was tested, not for Hashem because hashem already knows what we are capable of, but for us to see what we can do. We are tested so that we can turn potential into action!

Don’t be afraid to take a leap! Nothing stands in the way of your willpower. I saw this while training throughout my recent (5th) pregnancy and competing in the 2017 Tel Aviv marathon while 7 months pregnant. (she finished with a time of 4:08:00!)

Remember that everything, every gift, comes from Hashem! So, there are no limits.

She finished with a blessing for the members of the Senior class: “Bring Hashem into your life to inspire you and be the best versions of yourselves. Be a proud Jew and do not compromise your values. Your mitzvot are your wings - they carry you!”

Afterwards, Beatie took questions from the group:
One student asked if she sees sponsorship by Nike as acceptance? “It breaks down barriers between secular and religiously observant and promotes acceptance. This is new for Nike, and perhaps maybe they will market a skirt for runners like me.”

Another wondered if she has seen any backlash from the observant community? “The Ultra-Orthodox in Israel are not really supportive, but the goal is to create positivity and in that sense I have not gotten backlash.”

 Deutsch with Miriam Wielgus and Julie Saadia

So what does the future hold for Beatie Deutsch? Her next goal is to compete in the Berlin Marathon, site of many world record performances. It will present a challenge, though, as it is scheduled for Erev Rosh Hashanah and will end in a stadium where Hitler had made one of his speeches. Nevertheless, she intends to compete, planning on a Rosh Hashanah stay in Germany with her family and challenging herself to achieve the Olympic qualifying time. “I love the message that sends as an Israeli and a Jew, showing we are strong and we are still here.”

(Beatie Deutsch was recently chronicled in Runners World. The article can be seen here: https://www.runnersworld.com/runners-stories/a25849102/beatie-deutsch-ultra-orthodox-marathoner/ )

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