Most American Jews on solidarity missions to Israel crisscross the country by bus, shuttling between cities and meetings with government officials. But come spring, there’ll be an opportunity for the Israel supporter with more active and ecological leanings: a 314-mile bike trip from Tel Aviv to Eilat.
Cosponsored by the New York-based Hazon and Israel’s Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, the ride, scheduled for April 27-May 2, is both a solidarity mission and an effort to raise awareness of Israel’s environmental challenges.
To participate, cyclists must pay $180 and raise $3,600, with sponsorship dollars going to defray the trip costs and to fund the projects of the Arava Institute, which promotes environmental studies and environmental protection in Israel as well as peaceful coexistence in the Middle East.
Forty cyclists are expected, from the U.S. and Israel.
"The purpose of the ride is precisely to look beyond the awfulness and intractability of the situation and say, let’s renew our commitment to having American Jews and Israelis work together to build a better Israel and better Middle East," says Nigel Savage, Hazon’s executive director.
Hazon is no newcomer to Jewish environmental bike rides. In 2000, it led a small group of Jews on a cross-USA trip, and for the past two summers it has sponsored shorter rides from the Hudson Valley to Manhattan.
An avid cyclist, Rabbi Gordon Tucker of the Temple Israel Center of White Plains has participated in both New York rides, but says the upcoming Israel one "has special appeal."
"Being in Israel and just the imagery of people out on the roads now making a kind of statement that we’re not intimidated is a tremendous thing," Rabbi Tucker says. He adds that it is also critical to support environmental causes in Israel because "the environment is a ticking bomb."
For more information, go to www.israelride.org or call Hazon at (212) 284-6812.