JNF Wire: Israel Ride 2015 - Cycling, Sustainability, and CoExistence
November 6, 2015
Adam H. Brill, Director of Communications
ISRAEL RIDE 2015 – CYCLING, SUSTAINABILITY, AND COEXISTENCE
By: Megan Turner
Israel Ride cyclists gather for a group photo (courtesy of Israel Ride).
Perhaps you've been to Israel and seen the gorgeous landmarks by bus, by foot, and possibly, even by camel, but it's likely that you haven't done it by bike. One hundred and sixty two people dared to change the way that they've experienced Israel on the 13th annual Israel Ride that began October 27th and ended November 3rd. This unique event is a combination tour and fundraiser – riders must enlist donors to sponsor their five-day ride from Jerusalem through the Negev to Eilat.
Two very worthwhile organizations benefit from this effort, Hazon, an organization striving to build a more sustainable Jewish community, and the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, a Jewish National Fund (JNF) partner and leading environmental and academic institution that brings Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians, and other international students together to promote regional cooperation and sustainability.
Team JNF made up a sizable portion of this year's participants, bringing 42 riders from JNF boards and organizations around the globe and raising more than $200,000. David Eisenberg, who serves on JNF's New England Executive Board of Directors, has been riding in the event for the past ten years and donned an Israeli flag inscribed with his donor's names on the back of his riding jersey. He promised to donate a tree in honor of each one of his donors so that they could "really leave a piece of themselves behind."
For Eisenberg, the connection between JNF and the event is clear: "JNF is huge and very diverse – it's not just about development and planting trees, but about sustainable development." He also spoke of excitement and optimism for the future because of the work of Arava's diverse student population that this event directly supports.
Carl Jacobs, also from Team JNF and a member of the Board of Directors for the Arava Institute, is continually impressed with what these students do to "push forward the State of Israel." He also added that each one of the organizations involved in the Israel Ride simply enhances each other’s work and goals.
The third day of the ride found participants winding their way through the Negev to Sde Boker and the National Memorial to Israel's first prime minister, David Ben Gurion. Stuart Diamant Cohen, JNF’s regional director in Washington D.C., said he dreamt of the moment, "we come gliding into Eilat."
Event participants can choose which group to join, with less experienced riders averaging 30-35 miles a day, more experienced riders biking 50-55 miles a day, and very experienced riders pedaling 70-75 miles a day. The event's support of Hazon and Arava shows a "smart attitude" towards the development of the Negev and something that is "doing good for everyone," Diamant Cohen said.
Many riders are very passionate about their personal experience and the investment they are able to make to the worthwhile organizations that they return year after year. Eisenberg spoke of coming on this ride with different people each year and leaving with "friends from every single ride that I'm still in touch with."
Jack Platt, another member of Team JNF, came to Israel for the first time on this ride four years ago, and this year, in spite of being on dialysis and weighed down with medical machinery, he is determined to complete as many miles as possible. "It's worth it to come and support the Arava Institute," he said.
Early registration is already open for next year's Israel Ride which will take place from November 7-14th, 2016. For more details, visit the event's website at https://israelride.org.
# # #
JEWISH NATIONAL FUND (JNF) began in 1901 as a dream and vision to reestablish a homeland in Israel for Jewish people everywhere. Jews the world over collected coins in iconic JNF Blue Boxes, purchasing land and planting trees until ultimately, their dream of a Jewish homeland was a reality. JNF gives all generations of Jews a unique voice in building a prosperous future for the land of Israel and its people.
JNF embodies both heart and action; our work is varied in scope but singular in benefit. We strive to bring an enhanced quality of life to all of Israel’s residents, and translate these advancements to the world beyond. JNF is greening the desert with millions of trees, building thousands of parks, creating new communities and cities for generations of Israelis to call home, bolstering Israel’s water supply, helping develop innovative arid-agriculture techniques, and educating both young and old about the founding and importance of Israel and Zionism.
JNF is a registered 501(c)(3) organization and United Nations NGO, which continuously earns top ratings from charity overseers.
For more information on JNF, call 888-JNF-0099 or visit www.jnf.org.