Topic: Israel Rider Blog

Mel Simon

Reflections Refined

Although the Ride already a week ago, more riders are sending in their final thoughts and reflections. The following post is by Mel Simon, cross-posted from Mel’s Blog that he kept throughout the ride. The Ride To Remember The memories and friendships created on this journey will stay with me forever but it is the memories of all those who brought me here refined and refreshed by the way the sunlight shines in this land with it’s many many colors and landscapes and diverse peoples that I most treasure. A pilgrimage to Israel with so many dedicated and active souls opens the pores of the mind and the body. I am exhausted but thankful. Sitting in Eilat overlooking the Red Sea and the beautiful Jordanain mountains there are many emotions washing over me.  The ride that has now concluded offered exhilarating scenery whether in the Arava valley where the kibbutznicks came in the early days of the State to turn the desert green or in the amazing geological formations of the Negev. We also enjoyed hundreds of miles of spectacular and often very challenging cycling. The people drawn to this ride are a precious part of the experience. Some are very […]

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Eilat Hotel - featured

Arrival in Eilat

After five days of riding – either 150, 290, or 350 miles depending on which riding group each person chose, 130 riders arrived safely in Eilat.  Below are some final reflections: By Lloyd and Susan Lense: We have finished the ride. We cycled 285 miles in 5 riding sessions. The weather has been terrific. The scenery is desert and magical and clean. We have made many new friends. Yesterday started with a trip through Makhtesh Ramon – it is a natural wonder more native to the Negev. It is not a crater or canyon but formed through the effects of water on a softer layer of the earth with subsequent collapse of the top part of the earth layers. We made some incredible descents as we progressed to sea level. We stayed overnight at the kibbutz listed above and had the opportunity to talk with students from Israel, Jordan and Palestinian areas. The kibbutz is the home of the Arava Institute which focuses on science, peace building, dialogue and agriculture. Today we cycled near the Egyptian border, passed IDF posts and cycled through the Eilat Mountains with a fantastic view of the Gulf of Aqaba as we descended 100s of […]

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The People of the Ride

Notes from Team Mandell JCC, from West Hartford, CT As we started our journey from Jerusalem on day 1 of the ride, it was apparent that there are some great leaders in the group of riders. Our own team member Bruce is one of those legendary ride leaders who is loved and respected by many! Bruce was asked to start the ride by reading the “Travelers Prayer” and another team member, Spencer, was asked to blow the Shofar. As we began our treacherous decent out of the Jerusalem area, Bruce stayed with team members Annie and Allison who needed a little support navigating the dangerous terrain. Once the girls got their “bike legs” under them, Bruce was off to help a rider who was seriously injured. All along the first day’s route Bruce was there to cheer people on, sing to them as they rode and help everyone see the joy and hope of this journey. We are so lucky to have Bruce in our community! Along the way we also began to ride with, eat with and tour with the staff members and alumni of Arava and Hazon. Hearing their stories and how they are using their education to […]

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Reflections on Shabbat

Shabbat on the Israel Ride is always something special. After three days of riding, all riders welcome a day of rest, regatrdless of their usual practice at home in observing Shabbat. On Friday night, the community came together after two days of riding in mostly separated groups, and welcomed various guests of riders to the hotel in Mitzpe Ramon. Friday services were led by a Rabbi and a rabbinical student, both from Colorado. Saturday morning is truely a day of rest. Riders chose among a gental walk to the Makhtesh, yoga, or casual morning services, where everyone was able to reflect on how riding through the desert changes your understanding of the biblical stories of Isaac. A panel from Hazon explained the breadth of their work across America, focusing on how creating new gateways is necessary to the strengthening the continuity of Jewish life. After lunch, alumni from the Arava Institute (Jewish/Palestinian/Muslim/Israeli/Christian/Jordanian) shared their personal journeies, allowing riders to ask some of the tough questions that until now have not been openly discussed on the ride. The day of rest closed with Havdalah, as the riders transitioned back into thinking about the next day’s ride. The following reflections are by Lloyd […]

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Day 3: Exploring the Negev

by Wendy Schelew, Baltimore, MD Today I learned about hills in the Negev. My mantra as we have been taught is “ The hill is your friend” Attack it and so I did. We had a few major hills and I’m proud to say that my tushie never left my saddle and I didn’t have to walk the bike up the hill. We biked through  dessert where signs read “Beware Camel Crossing” . We biked to Yerucham for a rest stop at the half way mark. The mayor of the town, Michael Bitton, came to our rest stop to talk to us about his town of 10,000 people and the development going on. He is doing some amazing things and is getting a lot of help from the Chicago community. He had to go home to cook Shabbat dinner for his 5 children because he is in charge of the cooking and his wife does the baking. The mayor is an up and coming star and is purported to go into politics soon at the national level. The balance of the morning biking en route to Sde Boker was on small highways in the middle of the dessert. We were […]

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On the Mediterranean Coast

Reflections from Beth and Jon Miller, from Evergreen Day 1: Jerusalem to Ashkelon After more than six months of training and anticipation, we have our first day of the Israel Ride under our belt, and it was everything and more than we expected. Many riders this morning shared the similar experience of a near-sleepless night, which I guess underscores the anticipation shared by so many of us here for the start of the event.  Our day started at 5:45 am with breakfast and then off to our tour buses which shuttled us far enough away from the mayhem of Jerusalem, which was a great way to start the ride. Each day’s ride is separated into three options, which essentially equate to the distance (shorter, medium, and long) and overall speed of the group.  Beth and I selected the group going the longer distance which encompassed a 63-mile trek from Jerusalem to Ashkelon. The ride commenced with a prayer recited in Hebrew, English, and Arabic which drove home the underlying them of our ride recognizing the work being done by The Arava Institute. In fact, the support staff for the ride are comprised primarily of Arava students from Israel as well […]

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Reflections on Day 1

Reflections on the first day of riding, from Rabbi Bill Rudolph of Bethesda Maryland Day 1: Jerusalem to Ashkelon We made it safely to the Mediterranean. It was a beautiful ride. I made the right choice of distance. The only problem was the hill coming out of Jerusalem. I thought I would become one of those tank carcasses on the roadside from the War of Independence. After a few miles of climbing, I had to stop to catch my breath. (Note that most of my group had stopped long before.) I was a sorry sight, draped over the handlebars, gasping for air. I caught my breath and started up the hill again. Around the first turn, not even fifty yards from my stopping place,  was the top of the hill and a long beautiful downhill. Sometimes in life we stop just a little too soon and miss out on more than beautiful downhills. I hope you haven’t experienced that. On the positive side, Israeli truck and car drivers were surprisingly kind to us as we frequently encroached on their turf. What’s with that? Today might be called Philistine Day. Early on we went by the open field where the young […]

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Making a Difference

By Bruce Stanger, cross-posted from The Mandell JCC Team Blog I have done the Israel Ride eight times. It is truly a wonderful experience to know that you are making a difference for an organization such as the Arava Institute, the major recipient of this fundraiser. In addition, Hazon, such a wonderful organization here in the States, also gets a portion and provides us so much guidance. Each year on the bike ride, I get to interact with people from around the world but especially with Arab and Jewish Israelis, as well as Palestinians and Jordanians from the region who are there for two reasons. The obvious reason that the students are there is to get an education on the environment. But the second very important benefit and reason for some, is that they get to meet the “other” in a setting that is conducive to discussions of the narrative of each. Israeli Jews to a lesser extent but Palestinian and Jordanian Arabs to a great extent often face a good deal of opposition from their families before going to the Arava Institute. Many of them tell stories of not sharing with their families that they were applying or not […]

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Getting Excited to Ride

The 2013 Israel Ride has officially started – 130 riders began arriving over the weekend, and Tuesday was a day of bike building and touring. Throughout the Ride, we will be posting updates from the road, written by some of our riders. Our first entry is from Jonathan and Beth Miller, from Evergreen, CO (cross-posted from their personal blog) Bring it On! Tomorrow is Day 1 of Israel Ride 2013. Does it say anything that I am starting today’s blog with a reference to tomorrow’s ride? We are so ready to get this show on the road. We have our alarm clock set for 5:15 so we can get into our bike outfits, have breakfast and get onto the bus which will take our “Chalutzim” group out of Jerusalem where our 63 mile trek to Ashkelon begins. But, getting back to today… Our hotel here in Jerusalem is like a little slice of the United Nations. Keeping in mind that Jerusalem is the capital to the majority of the world’s most important religions, the diversity of the people who are here is something to behold. Breakfast is served buffet style with multiple stations featuring a broad range of foods to select […]

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Relax, it is the Israel Ride

With less than four weeks to go before the 2013 Israel Ride, and a near record number of riders doing their first Israel Ride, this is a time when some riders start to wonder, “what have I gotten myself into?” You’re not alone. Having had the good fortune to do several Israel Rides, the message of this post is pretty straight forward – Relax! And, have fun.

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There is a particular majesty in cresting a hill and taking in the landscape: the great expanse of the Negev Desert or the sparkle of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), the Jordan River or the heights of the Golan. There is a sense of awe when your legs work in concert with all the other parts to keep you balanced physically and mentally with the proper levels of salt and water to propel you up and brace you on the way down. There is a mind-clearing meditation that riding 60 miles a day brings to your brain. And there is a sense of great gratitude that comes with setting a lofty goal and working four months to achieve it.

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