Overcoming The Odds


Aaron Karov’s doctors thought he might not survive the injuries he sustained in Israel’s Cast Lead military operation in Gaza in 2009. A paratroop platoon commander’s aide, he was badly wounded when a booby-trapped house he and other soldiers were searching collapsed on them; he was wounded in the head, face and chest.

Karov’s doctors doubted that he would walk again; he required several extensive surgeries and months of grueling rehabilitation therapy.

Karov’s doctor’s doubted that he would run again.

Karov will prove his doctors wrong on Sunday, Nov. 3, running in the ING New York City Marathon.

“Everything is from Hashem [God],” Karov, who is Orthodox, says of his survival and subsequent recuperation. “To get to where I am … it’s a miracle and divine providence.”

Now 26, he’ll wear a OneFamily T-shirt and raise funds in the race for OneFamily, the Israeli organization that has offered him and his family — among some 3,500 families of terror victims it assists — moral and financial help since he sustained his injuries.

“One Family has been our extended family from the moment I was injured,” Karov says.

The New York marathon will be the first for Karov, who had earlier done no running beyond the mandatory army training.

The wife of one of his surgeons suggested six months ago that he start running. Yitzchaka Jackson, an attorney and marathoner, pointed out that Karov was gaining weight because of physical inactivity.

He started running. “I liked the idea,” Karov said. He did a kilometer or two at a time, working up to longer distances. Then he decided to do a marathon, as a way of giving back to One Family (onefamilytogether.org) Jackson will run with him through the boroughs of the city.

“I like to go all the way in everything I do,” he told The Jewish Week in a telephone interview from his home in Ariel. He decided to do “the maximum” — which, for a runner, means a marathon.

A student at the Ariel University Center, an organizer of classes and seminars for the Panim el Panim educational organization, married with two young children, he trains on a flat running track and on the hills of the West Bank near his home.

His body still bears some scars from the Gaza explosion. His eyesight, and ability to concentrate, aren’t back to pre-injury levels, he said. “I don’t have nightmares — I am enjoying life.” He still does annual reserve duty in the army, in an intelligence unit.

Karov joined his army battalion in 2009 on the day after his wedding, though he qualified for a newlywed exemption. He said he has “no second thoughts” about taking part in Cast Lead. “There is no other option … when your soldiers need you.”