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EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Aharon Karov

Five years after his near death experience while serving as a paratrooper with the IDF, 27-year-old Aharon Karov competed in the New York City Marathon; in a Shalom Life exclusive, he talks about how he came to accomplish this tremendous feat

By: Zak Edwards
Published: November 25th, 2013 in News » World
Aharon KarovPic: OneFamily Fund

I’m not married, but I would imagine there are probably two dominant activities that occur the morning after your wedding: either you stay in bed nursing a wicked hangover or you stay in bed for… other reasons.

22-year-old Aharon Karov, however, went to war.

“I was in the paratroopers brigade,” Karov told me during an interview with Shalom Life, “and was called up for an operation.”

He could have been exempt on account of his extremely recent wedding, but he refused, instead joining his fellow soldiers into Gaza.


(Karov with his wife Tzvia)

“After training and leading my soldiers for so long, I didn’t want to leave them alone.”

What happened next was horrifying.

Leading his men into the operation on a cold day in November, 2008, just ten days after his wedding, Karov ended up in a building that was booby trapped. “My soldiers managed to escape,” Karov says, “but the building collapsed on me. I don’t remember, but people said that the doctors thought there was little hope for me. I survived though.”

Doctors on the scene initially thought he was dead.

Karov has not only survived, however, but just two weeks ago ran the New York City Marathon in support of the OneFamily Fund, a group that helps Israeli families victimized by terror. For a man declared officially dead, whose severe head injuries meant he had to relearn right and left, the simple commands sit and stand, etc., running in a 26.2 mile marathon would be no easy feat.

Shalom Life had the wonderful opportunity to talk with Karov, now 27, about his story, how it felt to cross the finish line, and where he’s going from here.

Shalom Life (SL): Why running?

Aharon Karov (AK): During my surgeries and slow recovery, I developed a very strong relationship with Dr. Steve Jackson, the surgeon who operated on me. He saved my life. Yitzchaka, his wife, is an avid runner and when she met me, I was at a bit of a low. I had gained weight and was still trying to pick up the pieces. She began encouraging me to join a group of IDF veterans who ran together. She thought that it would empower me, and that it would help me heal. I pushed it off for a while, I wasn't sure I could do it, but she kept asking and I finally joined the group. I really enjoyed it.

When she mentioned doing the marathon to raise money for OneFamily, I thought she was nuts, but I really wanted to give back. Over the last four months I have lost a lot of weight, around 20 kilos, and running turned things around for me. I love the satisfaction I get after a really good run, it makes me feel like I can do anything.

'When you believe in yourself, the sky's the limit'

SL: Crossing the finish line, how did it feel?

AK: It was incredible. I was exhausted, overjoyed, and so excited. I even surprised myself. I have been training for this for so long, going on runs at 4AM, raising money for OneFamily, and all the while worrying about if my health would hold. At the finish line, the moment we had been working towards finally came. At one point, I was told that I would never be able to walk again. Then I ran a marathon. It just goes to show that when you believe in yourself, the sky’s the limit.


(Karov after completing the New York City Marathon)

SL: Can you talk a bit about OneFamily? How did you get involved with them and what kind of work do they do?

AK: OneFamily has been our support system from day one, when they sent a representative to the hospital I was evacuated to. They didn't just help me, but my whole family. Naava Formonsky, OneFamily's regional director for central Israel, sat with my grandmother at my bedside; they became really good friends. A volunteer from OneFamily was there to help or bring food to my family every day that I was in the hospital. My mother needed psychological support, so she joined a special group arranged by OneFamily for mothers of soldiers who served in Cast Lead. They really understood what she was going through, and she received a lot of love and support there.

I received a lot of help and attention from the public in the beginning, but as time passes, people move on and get back into a routine. They forget that the injuries I suffered will affect me and my family for the rest of our lives. With the exception of OneFamily. Five years after my injury, they are still here for me and that gives me a lot of strength. It's important to know that they are part of my family because time will pass and our lives will go on but the injury will never fully heal. I am really grateful for all of their support.

Continue reading on Page 2

Related articles: IDF, New York City Marathon, Aharon Karov, Jewish News, Israel News, Exclusive, One Family, Marathon
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