Lisa Ostad, a 32-year-old mother of three from Manhattan, ran in last Sunday’s 15K New York Road Runner race through Central Park to raise money for an indoor playground dedicated March 10 in the Israeli southern city of Sderot. The $5 million facility — equipped with a small indoor soccer field, video games, movie theater, fun-house mirrors, a climbing wall, food court and disco — was built by the Jewish National Fund in 10 months with 300 tons of steel to enable it to withstand rocket attacks from Palestinian terrorists in neighboring Gaza.
Q:How did you get the idea to dedicate your run to this project?
A: I learned about the playground about a month or two ago when I was looking at the JNF Web site. I like to be in touch with organizations I’m involved with just to see what they are up to, and we buy trees from JNF every year.
How did you connect the playground with your run?
I always see children playing in Central Park and I had wanted to dedicate my run to something worthwhile. When I saw the playground on the JNF Web site, it hit me that this would be a good cause. It made me realize how free we are that our children can play safely outdoors, and I would like to help provide a safe environment for the children of Sderot. I contacted JNF and they were very excited about this.
Have you been to Sderot?
I have been to Israel four times, but never to Sderot. The first time I went it was with United Synagogue Youth. The other three trips were with family and friends. I hope the next time I’m in Israel that I will have the opportunity to visit the playground.
How did you prepare for last Sunday’s race?
I ran a half-marathon of about 13 miles eight years ago and I have run some five-mile races. A few days before the race I ran nine miles on the treadmill. It took me 87 minutes, and on Sunday I ran three-tenths of a mile longer and I did it in 86 minutes.
And you raised money from family and friends before your run?
I raised about $6,500 and my husband and I decided to match it. So we will be giving JNF about $13,000. I was afraid it was going to be less than that, and this was a nice showing of support during these difficult times.
What is your reaction to Israel’s Gaza offensive in January to try to stop the Palestinian rocket attacks aimed at Sderot?
I was happy that Israel was breaking down the areas that had been built up to attack Israel. I think that what Israel did was appropriate and correct.