Israel and American men and women of all ages, representatives of Israeli and Jewish community organizations and others turned out to walk with Israel for a Cure, one of approximately 1,700 teams that participated in the AIDS Walk Los Angeles on Oct. 14.
The Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles organized the Israel for a Cure group to demonstrate Israel’s support for the fight against HIV/AIDS.
“The reason we do this is because it really is a global issue — it affects Israel, it affects the Jewish people,” said Consul General of Israel David Siegel, who was among the participants. This was the fourth year that the consulate has organized a team for the walk.
The Israel for a Cure team drew approximately 50 participants wearing Israel for a Cure T-shirts and carrying blue and white balloons, Israeli flags and a banner proclaiming “Israel for a Cure.” Participants included representatives of StandWithUs, a pro-Israel advocacy group; Na’amat, an Israeli movement dedicated to women’s rights; members of the Israeli Leadership Council; and of Congregation Kol Ami, a synagogue based in West Hollywood.
Additionally, community leaders — including Congressmen Howard Berman and Adam Schiff, Congresswoman Maxine Waters and L.A City Councilmen Paul Koretz and Dennis Zine — stopped by the team’s meeting station — near the intersection of San Vicente and Santa Monica boulevards — to express support.
Also among the participants was Drew Michelman, a student at Buckley School in Sherman Oaks, who raised more than $2,000 for the event as part of his bar mitzvah project.
“It was a good experience to just know that while you’re walking, you’re helping people around the world,” the seventh-grader said.
In addition to being committed to raising awareness about HIV/AIDS on a community level, Israel is focused on ending the epidemic on a scientific and policy level, Siegel said. Last year, Israel signed a multiyear cooperative agreement with UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. The Israeli biotech industry is currently working on developing cutting-edge methods of battling deadly viruses such as HIV.
AIDS Walk Los Angeles is an annual event that raises funds and awareness to improve the lives of people affected by the disease, reduce the incidence of infection, and advocate for fair and effective HIV-related policy. This year, the 28th annual walk — a 6.2-mile trek in West Hollywood — drew a reported 30,000 participants and raised $2.9 million.