Jan 19, 2022
JERUSALEM WEATHER

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In an unexpected move, Adidas has chosen Bracha “Beatie” Deutsch, a 31-year-old Haredi mother of five who lives in Jerusalem, as their new face for their campaign entitled “Impossible is Nothing.”

Modest clothing and running for God

Despite topping out at four feet, eleven inches tall, Deutsch stands out in a crowd in any case, choosing to run in a long-sleeved top, below-the-knee skirt, and headscarf. 

Deutsch was thrilled when she saw the campaign, most notably a huge billboard on the Ayalon highway near Tel Aviv.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she told Times of Israel. “It was a beautiful opportunity to make an impact as a proudly modest woman, and Adidas chose to highlight that aspect of me.”

I was so surprised that they wanted to highlight the fact that I’m a religious runner and that my faith is what moves me. It’s not necessarily what you’d expect from a big sports company.”

“I couldn’t think of a more fitting way to demonstrate Am Yisrael chai (nation of Israel lives) than by racing as a proud Orthodox Jewish mother,” she says, using the ancient Hebrew phrase meaning the Jewish nation lives on.

“We don’t have a lot of female athlete role models in Israel,” “I want to see more girls becoming athletes and pursuing that passion. My ultimate goal in life is to share the beauty of Judaism, and impact people to spread light in that way because I did not dream about being an athlete, ever. I wasn’t like, ‘Oh, when I grow up, I want to be a professional runner.’ I didn’t know that was such a thing.”

For Deutsch, her spiritual journey is as important as her physical challenges as an athlete. This is a message that she has given during her journey as a runner, though she claims “the hardest marathon I’ve ever run is the one I do every day as a mother.”

“The truth is, spiritual change is a lot harder than physical change. And the results are never as immediate or dramatically apparent,” she wrote in an article in Kveller last year.

This message has accompanied her the whole way. After the Jerusalem Marathon, she posted to Facebook, “As I always say, every step of our life has been planned and calculated by Hashem — המכין מצעדי גבר and God is with us every step of the way.

Dropped out of the Olympics to observe the Sabbath

Deutsch was born in the United States, grew up in Passaic, New Jersey, and emigrated to Israel in 2008. She lives in Har Nof Jerusalem with her husband, a Yeshiva teacher, and her five children.

She began running in 2016 at the age of 25, finishing the Tel Aviv marathon four months later with a time of 3:27:26. One year later, she ran the same marathon while seven months pregnant, finishing with a time of 4:08:16. In the Jerusalem Marathon in 2018, she cut that time to 3:09:50 in the Jerusalem Marathon.  Shortly before the Jerusalem marathon, Deutsch was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease celiac, leading to anemia which weakened her. At the Israeli National Championships Marathon in Tiberias, Deutsch won first place with a time of 2:42:18, the fifth-best result of all time for female Israeli runners, establishing her as the Israeli national champion in the marathon and half marathon. In the Tiberias Marathon held in January 2020, Deutsch won a gold medal and finished in fourth place overall and first place for women with a new personal best of 2:32:25. At the Cheshire Elite Marathon in the United Kingdom, Deutsch improved her personal marathon record to 2:31:39 and finished in 5th place.

Deutsch qualified for the 2020 Olympics, ranking as one of the top 80 women runners in the world. However, when the Tokyo Olympics was postponed due to COVID-19, the women’s marathon moved from a Sunday to a Saturday. She tried to appeal the decision that moved that race to Shabbat, so she could compete without transgressing her religious beliefs. However, the IOC declined her request. 

Also chosen for the Adidas campaign were the Russian figure skater Alexandra Trusova, the Indian short distance runner Hima Das, the South African rugby player Siya Kolisi and the NBA star Damian Lillard.