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Monday, July 22, 2019

Chani Rubin and Neenah Friedman. (Credit: Courtesy of Yachad)

Chani with her parents and sister. (Credit: Courtesy of Yachad)

Chani with her friends at camp. (Credit: Courtesy of Yachad)

Chani Rubin, Chani Hermann and Leora Verbit. (Credit: Courtesy of Yachad)

How do you remember someone whose presence is deeply missed by so many people? You start with the things she loved. Chani Rubin, z”l, a 30-year-old woman from Passaic with special needs, who passed away at the end of last summer, loved Camp Mesorah and being part of the Yachad Vocational Program there, posting a countdown all year on social media. The choice was obvious: Rename the annual Camp Mesorah Yachad Run to The Chani Rubin, z”l, Mesorah Yachad Annual 5K Scholarship Run, to be held this year on July 17.

The theme this year is “the warrior run.” It is especially fitting for Chani with its emphasis on strength, which she showed in everything she accomplished, including competing in marathons with Team Yachad in Miami.

“Chani was an amazing and special person who inspired each person in Camp Mesorah,” Rabbi Ari and Deena Katz, camp directors, said in a statement to The Jewish Link. “She taught us how to live life to the fullest, to never give up and to always follow our dreams. Chani looked forward to the Mesorah-Yachad Run all year and helped us plan and organize it each summer. This summer, as we rename the run in memory of Chani, we will celebrate her life and run the race to make her proud.” A special dedication ceremony will be held, where the camp will come together to hear about who she was, especially her strength and emunah. Following the 5K, there will be a BBQ dinner and awards ceremony. The run includes campers, staff and participants in the Yachad programs at Camp Morasha and Camp Lavi who have been invited to join the event.

Yachad’s mission is inclusion, and the run is structured so that everyone can participate, from the youngest campers who will compete in an obstacle course, to adult staff. There are two Yachad programs at camp: The Camper Integration Program, which provides campers with special needs extra support in mainstream bunks, and a Vocational Training Program for young adults who learn how to work in jobs under the direction of a coach.

Chani Herrmann, director of New Jersey Yachad, served as the Mesorah Yachad program director for five summers, and knows the special relationships Chani had with everyone she came in contact with. For six summers, Chani worked in the Yachad Vocational program, where she sorted mail and assisted in the art room. “Chani was very beloved; she forged meaningful relationships with the staff, friends and campers. When she passed away, we were heartbroken.”

Herrmann said that Chani was very dedicated to her friends, and always tried to do what was right. If she felt someone wasn’t being treated well, she would step in to help. She enjoyed working with children and was sensitive to their needs. Last summer, she called her mother and asked her to please send a teddy bear that she had at home. When her mother asked her why, Chani told her that a young camper was homesick and she wanted to make him feel better, and let him know someone cared.

Chani’s mother, Val Rubin, said in a statement to The Jewish Link that she is still hearing stories from people that demonstrate Chani’s influence on everyone around her. “Chani was an amazing young woman who maximized every ounce of her potential. We are still learning so much about the ways in which she touched, and even changed, lives. We knew that we wanted to inspire others and memorialize her in a way that gave back, as she always did. Yachad and Camp Mesorah (and Israel) were her loves. There seemed to be no more meaningful way to celebrate her life than to ensure that others could grow from experiences similar to those Chani had. There is no end to the praise we have for Yachad and Camp Mesorah. Each helped Chani grow and mature in remarkable ways. Thus, the birth of the Chani Rubin z”l Yachad Camp Mesorah Annual 5K Scholarship Run.”

The actual event is only open to campers and staff but anyone can participate by contributing to the scholarship fund. To sponsor a runner, visit http://mesorah.teamyachad.com/.

By Bracha Schwartz