Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reflecting On 2011

As this year comes to a close, I wanted to say thank you to all who have read this blog in 2011. A special thank you to those who follow my blog. Jori, Kimberly, Robert, Jen, Brendan, Todd, Michele, Denver Triathlon, Courtney, Elvia, Marrielle, Sara, and Jani. If I could I would send individual expressions of gratitude to each of you. My hope is that you will read this and know how grateful I am that you follow me.

This year was filled with fun memories running Soldier Field 10 again with Michael Crissie. There was the joy of flying to Denver for the first time to participate in the Denver Triathlon. I had the great thrill of racing the Pleasant Prairie Triathlon doing the duathlon portion where Todd Smith and I pounded out the bike. It was the first time I went about thirty miles per hour on a bike. Ensuring that speed was not a fluke, I raced through Denver with Clark Bishop. Matt Miller drove up in his car and timed us. He said we were pushing thirty-two miles per hour based on his gage. I enjoyed meeting and running with Liz Bilitz for the first half of the CARA 20 Miler. Jennifer Pfaff took me the second half in cold rainy conditions. Then of course, my crowning moment when it comes to athletics. Chicago Marathon! Kimberly Shah and Jenny Pfaff took me the 26.2 distance in an emotionally charged experience which saw Kimberly and I start the race ten minutes before the pro elites, Kimberly and I reached the ten mile mark in what to me was a stunning one hour and thirty minutes, Jenny and I receive a thunderous ovation from the Imerman Angels cheering section at mile fourteen, I hit the physical wall with nine miles to go, but found the strength to push myself down the the home stretch, and of course, cross the finish line live on NBC 5 Chicago in a time fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon for 2013!

I had the privilege to represent C Different Foundation, Dare2TriChicago, and imerman Angels. I look forward to representing all three again in the coming year as well as hopefully racing on behalf of some other organizations. One of my favorite moments came during a training run with Kimberly Shah one week prior to the marathon. We were running along the lakefront in Chicago when she suggested we run on the beach in the sand. I had never done that so I was excited to try. Once I got the hang of it, we started moving. Usually, the person who guides me tells me about my surroundings. The person informs me of any obstacles in the path of travel or warns me of others. On this day at this moment, Kimberly did not say a word. At first I was nervous, but I quickly became comfortable with it. Soon we picked up speed and the only sounds I heard were of the waves crashing in from Lake Michigan. All barking dogs, birds, or people went silent. The more we ran the more I embraced it. The only other sound I would hear would be Kimberly breathing from time to time. That experience was so powerful and moving because neither of us spoke yet the entire time it felt as though she and I were communicating! It was better than a runner's high. It was other worldly.

Another great thrill was flipping on TNT to watch NBA playoffs and then see a commercial featuring my dear friend, actress, model, Amanda Grace. My friend Michelle Amor's film, Of Boys And Men was released on Warner Bros Home Video and recently aired on BET. Several film festivals featured World's Largest: A Documentary About Small Towns With Big Things which one of the filmmakers, Lizzy Donius, happens to be a tremendous woman who came into my life six years ago when she was Executive Director of Chicago IFP. She was the number one reason I joined the group. I have met some amazing people and have been able to get my screenplays in front of industry people because of my involvement with IFP. All thanks to Lizzy. Some of the other talented actors, actresses, models, producers, and directors I have been able to highlight this year on this site were Brendan Hermes, Matt Miller, Laura Shatkus, Kate Bergeron, Julia Kessler, and Laura Sturm. More recently, I wrote about Wanda Cobar. I have written about one of my favorite writers, Jen Knox. She is simply amazing and I am so privileged to know her. A great thrill for me has been to follow the career of pro triathlete Jenna Parker as she attempts to become the first person to ever win Olympic gold medal and Academy Award. Besides being one of the top three triathletes in the US and top fifty in the world, she is also a wonderful actress and model. One of my goals and hopes is that one day I can write a character and screenplay which is so powerful and evokes such a strong response that it not only gets produced, but possibly stars Jenna. If she does not have her Oscar by then, maybe the role I write can at the very least be so great that it gets her a nomination if not even the award.

It has been a tremendous year filled with joyous memories and achievements far beyond my wildest dreams. It has also been a year filled with disappointment, goals unfulfilled, and broken hearts forced to mend on the fly to move on to the next experience. I could play the what if game or I can simply embrace what is and move on to the next year knowing that I am better prepared for the challenges which are ahead in the new year. I have had a small tasted of athletic greatness and a small sampling of Hollywood interest this year. The best way to approach 2012 is to place myself in a position to fully take advantage of what comes next with both athletics and artistic ventures. By this time next year I will have new stories and friends about whom I will reflect. I am excited about what I do not even know and who I do not even know. I hope you will continue to read my thoughts as I give you a glimpse into my life. People often tell me I am inspirational. I do not live my life to be inspiring. I merely try to make the best of a situation in front of me. I also do my best to be honest to myself and to you, my audience. For example, this year was the twenty year anniversary of when I lost my eyesight over night when I was a teenager. I shared my successes, disappointments, and regrets with you. I felt it was important for me to be real and express reasons I am still hurt that I do not have my sight while also sharing reasons I am so lucky that such amazing people surround me in this journey. I try to express those very emotions with every post, screenplay, theater piece I give the world. I hope you will continue to receive it.

Happy New Year!! Sexy Isra!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cobar Collections Site

A few years ago, my friend raved about one of her long time friends. I was intrigued. the more she told me the more I wanted to hear about the woman she described. She was raving about a beautiful talented artist who designed clothes. Wanda Cobar! Wanda had designed clothes which were worn by models on the runways of Chicago, New York, and Paris. More recently, Wanda designed an outfit for Steven Tyler. Yes, that Steven Tyler. Wanda is a tremendous artist who designs outfits for high school dance teams, theater wardrobes, and celebrities. She is simply spectacular. Her designs are wonderful. Of course, you are probably reading this and asking, where can I view Wanda's designs for myself? Well, I am glad you asked. You can see Wanda, read her story, and view her designs at the web site listed below. Her clothes are frequently featured for purchase so women, feel free to browse and buy Wanda's outfits. You will look smashing in them.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Powerful Beyond Measure

Every so often, I will come across a web site, blog, or link which fascinates me. While this blog has always been about promoting my athletic and artistic ventures as well as those of my friends, I get so moved when I see a video like the one I have decided to post today. I came across it this morning by accident. I know that the Ironman Triathlon channel has the broadcast of this year's World Championship available for viewing for the entire week. I have watched it several times already, but wanted to do so again. Instead of logging on to the page, I simply went to the main youtube page and typed my search. What popped as one of the results was a link to this. I watched since it stated it was a motivating piece. I was so touched by it. Later in the day, someone did describe the images to me, but what struck me were the lines from various films used as voiceover. This may have to become my go-to viewing when preparing to write a screenplay or theater piece or when I am getting ready for a race.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Jenny Raising Funds For CDF

There are about three weeks left to prepare for my first event of 2012. Usually, I am not able to find a sighted guide or race in which to participate until May, but this year worked out well as an opportunity came about to race in the Houston Half Marathon as a member of Team CDF, the organization started by my friend, Matt Miller. The C Different Foundation works to help blind and visually impaired individuals race in triathlons and road races by partnering them up with sighted guides for the events. For Houston, my friend, the talented and amazing Jennifer Pfaff has volunteered to be my eyes. Jenny has set up a fundraising page on behalf of C Different Foundation so that many others will get to experience what I will in January while many others will get the chance to do what she is doing.

Please visit the page at:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Jen Knox

I love to write. I love when friends and strangers tell me how my words touched their lives. I love to make people think and feel. In fact, one of my friends, Dan Bernstein, the host of the afternoon show on WSCR 670 AM in Chicago, once stated that it is my responsibility to push the boundaries of accepted societal norms while forcing people to face issues they otherwise sweep under the rug. He said it is the job of any writer or standup comic who is good at their job. I enjoy when I read the work of others and it makes me think and feel. One woman who does that is the talented author, Jen Knox. I have enjoyed reading her short stories, blog posts, and other pieces. I have enjoyed the opportunities to express my gratitude for what she does. It tickles me that I can use this site to do just that. I am even more amused that I can contact her directly through Twitter, Facebook, and other avenues to say thank you for a piece which she has written. I feel lucky that Jen Knox first came into my life when she took an interest in my writing, marathon, and triathlon adventures. I have learned so much by reading her work. I have gained a wonderful friend who inspires me daily.

Jen is an amazing writer with an interesting life story. What most inspires me is how she is willing to share her story with the world. Many people have done so over the years, but as a friend pointed out to me when I was first writing my autobiographical theater piece prior to my debut as a writer and actor in Chicago theater, most people write themselves as the good person or victim, but never shine the light on who they truly are as individuals. In truth, many people like the idea of telling their stories, but few have the guts to truly examine who they are. I took pride in being honest with my readers and audiences. For those who have read or will read Jen's book, you see that Jen is honest with who she is. She makes readers feel. Please take a look at the links I provide to familiarize yourself with the talented Jen Knox. You will find links to her book, Musical Chairs. You will also read information about her second book, To Begin Again. You will learn that a third book by Jen is coming in the new year! I can not wait. I am so excited at what 2012 has in store for the talented Jen Knox. I thank you Jen for allowing us to get a look into your world and for sharing your gift of writing with the world so that someone like me can learn from you and get inspired as I work on my theater pieces or screenplays. Jen, you do a great job making me feel. I hope others will get a chance to experience what I have been lucky to experience. Thank you Jen for being my friend!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Amanda Grace

One of my dearest friends is the lovely and talented Amanda Grace. She is an actress, model, and singer. She is a tremendous woman, friend, and person whom I am privileged to know. Recently, the Chicago tribune's well respected theater critic, Chris Jones named his top twenty shows of 2011. Amanda Grace appeared in two of them. She is an amazing talent whose web site is a must see for all. Please follow the link below and check out her blog, videos, and pictures.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Nina Teaches Me To Run Dance Love

It is always fun to make new friends on Facebook and follow people on Twitter. I use to say that I met some of my dearest closest friends in high school, college, or acting class. Now I am including Facebook and Twitter in that list. I get a kick out of being recognized as Sexy Isra from twitter. I enjoy using social media to keep up with friends who are all over the country and world. I get happy when I realize that I am tweeting back and forth with a writer, actor, or athlete. I find it endlessly fascinating when I am able to post on those people's walls on FB. What I most enjoy is being inspired by these individuals. Whether it is communicating on Twitter with Paula Radcliffe, Jenna Parker, and others or doing the same on FB, I am thrilled that I can keep track of their accomplishments and achievements. I am also tickled when someone who inspires me mentions me in a tweet. This was the case the day of the Chicago Marathon two months ago. I spent that evening and following day catching up on Twitter and FB so I was thrilled to read that one of the women I follow tweeted how wonderful it was to see the amazing Kimberly Shah guiding a blind runner in the marathon. I laughed out loud. I screamed, "That's me!" I immediately sent a tweet to that woman. She is running_nina on Twitter. I had been following her tweets for a while and was often moved by her tweets and blog. It turns out, she apparently knew Kimberly.

I read Nina's blog frequently and I always get motivated by her experiences of running the lakefront path and in races. Often, I am so pumped I go get in some miles when I had not been planning on doing so, but her words move me. Her blog reminds me I should Run after my dreams, dance to feel good, and love my life. Recently, she posted about winter outdoor running. I have only run outdoors in the winter probably two or three times in my life. Reading Nina's post made me want to arm myself properly with warm layers and go out to tackle the cold. I hope I can work it out with friends this winter so I can try it more frequently. My desire came from Nina's post and for that I am grateful. Not being one who can handle the cold, I will probably complain initially, but I am sure I will get the hang of it. After all, being able to get outside for long runs will benefit me as I do as Nina instructs, run after my dreams!

Please check out Nina's Run Dance Love site:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

C Different Foundation: For Whom I Will Race

Four years ago, I reached out to Matt Miller, founder of the C Different Foundation. C Different was created by Matt to help inspire blind and visually impaired people to lead active healthy lifestyles. It was designed to help educate the world that those who are blind or visually impaired are not disabled even if they have a disability. C Different was founded to change the outlook blind and visually impaired people may have about themselves and what others may have of them. Matt began with one blind/visually impaired athlete. Then a couple more were sent his way. Before long, a few more were reaching out to Matt. With the internet and social media, it is easier to reach as many people as possible. A decade ago, it was quite different. The best way Matt could get the word out to blind and visually impaired potential athletes while getting out the word for what these blind and visually impaired individuals were doing was to document it. As the famous saying states, Go big or go home! Matt went big by taking five blind and visually impaired people to the Ironman triathlon. The first five blind and visually impaired people to ever attempt the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run in under seventeen hours. A film crew caught it all in a documentary called Victory Over Darkness. The C Different Foundation has grown leaps and bounds since Matt put together this amazing group with a spectacular dream. I have been lucky to call Matt a friend for the last four years. I have gone miles and miles as a member of Team CDF. The friendships I have made will last a lifetime. I am so proud to once again represent the C Different Foundation when I travel to Houston for the Aramco Half Marathon on January 15, 2012. I am so excited that elite marathoner, Jenny Pfaff will guide me through the streets of Houston. If you have never seen Matt, C Different Foundation, or any of their people, please take a few minutes to watch this video. This inspires me to one day cross the finish line at an Ironman.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Johnny Imerman Video

A link which I noticed today is one which I wish to share with my readers. It gives you insight and information on Johnny Imerman, the wonderful individual who created Imerman Angels. As you may recall, Imerman Angels is the organization for which I ran this year's Chicago Marathon. For anyone interested in donating to the organization or wishing to be a part of the group, please take the time to watch this video. I am part of the Imerman Active crew and I look forward to ways in which I may be able to serve IA in the future. Maybe, I will take part in a few more races. Maybe the Chicago Marathon is one in which I will run again next year on behalf of the group.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Of Boys And Men On BET

In 2007, I had the great privilege to meet screenwriter and filmmaker, Michelle Amor. Since then, she has been a wonderful friend and influence on my writing career. In fact, it was Michelle who insisted I turn my autobiographical theater piece into a screenplay. The very first piece I ever sent Michelle was that theater piece. I figured it was a great way for her to learn about Israel the person while learning about Israel the writer. She loved the play and demanded I write a film version. She has stood by supporting me ever since. She offers me advice and a guiding hand. I am so grateful for her. Today, all of you can see her writing talent on display. The film, Of Boys And Men written by Michelle Amor which stars Robert Townsend, Angela Bassett, and others will air on BET. Please check your local listing for air time in your area. Make sure to check out Michelle's film. Michelle is a wonderful person who told a fantastic story.