WEST BLOOMFIELD — Supporters of an annual pro-Israel walk will have the option to move at a faster pace this year.
Temple Shir Shalom in West Bloomfield is inviting metro Detroiters to the eighth annual Walk for Israel May 5. During the event, demonstrators walk outside and hold signs to support the Jewish state. A new 5k run will occur earlier in the morning.
Andre Douville, the event’s lead organizer, said the weather plays a large role in the event’s turnout, but he said its appeal has grown over the years.
“Last year’s event was probably our most successful event to date,” he said. “Last year, we had well over 1,000 people attend. The last count was 1,500.”
Douville said the walk is meant to celebrate the importance of the Israel-U.S. relationship. Since last year, Israel has hosted a visit by President Barack Obama, held an election and waged a military campaign in Gaza.
In speaking with other Israel supporters, Douville said he has picked up some guarded sentiment over the situation with Iran and its nuclear program. On the other hand, Douville believes that many people are optimistic about Israel’s future, adding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has formed a coalition government that includes both the political left and right.
“In his second term as prime minister, I think he is going to get a lot of things done domestically that are important to the Israeli citizens,” he said.
Douville said he has been very happy with the mix of people who have come out to support the Walk for Israel, including Chaldean-Americans, African-Americans and Asian-Americans. He also called the event bipartisan and apolitical, adding that it receives visits from local dignitaries like U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich.
“We do not advocate for any political party,” he said. “The only goal of the walk is to gather as many people as possible.”
Tim Munger, of West Bloomfield, who belongs to the nonprofit Christian organization Friends of Israel, said he has been involved with the walk since its inception. He said it has been a privilege to attend the event and walk with other likeminded people.
“We have three core values,” he said. “We’re committed to the Bible, we’re committed to the Gospel, and we are committed to the state of Israel and the Jewish people.”
Besides the 1 p.m. walk, there will be a noon lunch, an 11 a.m. forum with terrorism expert Steve Pomerantz and an 8 a.m. 5k Run for Israel.
Douville said this is the inaugural run, which begins and ends at Temple Shir Shalom. He added that three local rabbis are avid runners, and members from their congregations are expected to attend.
“It’s a run for all ages,” he said. “You can walk it; you can run it.”
The eighth annual Walk for Israel will take place May 5 at Temple Shir Shalom, 3999 Walnut Lake Road. The 5k run will start at 8 a.m., and the walk will start at 1 p.m. The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs’ Steve Pomerantz will speak at 11 a.m. A free kosher lunch will be served at noon.
The run’s entry fee is $36, and the walk is free. Learn more at www.walkforisrael.org or by calling (248) 737-8700.