If you’ve ever visited Israel in the past, you, like many, probably fell in love with the country. As you toured the must-see spots or out-of-the way locations, the country gently pulled at your heartstrings. And when the time came to board the plane to head home, you probably vowed to visit again.
So what if you considered seeing Israel in a different way the next time? Israel Ride makes it possible. Israel Ride is a cycling experience through Israel, providing a unique opportunity to see – and learn about – the country.
Steve Sanderson of Minneapolis participated in his first Israel Ride in 2015, and it made such an impact on him, he not only went back in 2016 and he’s planning to participate in November’s 2017 ride. Sanderson wasn’t an avid cyclist before the Israel Ride. Rather, he heard about it from his friend and Israel Ride veteran, Steve Klane, and thought it would be an amazing way to experience the country.
“It’s a great physical challenge, and a totally different way to see the country,” says Sanderson. “Plus, it’s a great way to support two organizations that are really making an impact on sustainability and the environment.”
In order to go on the Ride, participants must commit to a minimum fundraising level. This money goes to support two of Israel Ride’s partner organizations: The Arava Institute of Environmental Studies and Hazon.
The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies is a leading environmental academic and research institution in the Middle East, attracting Jewish, Muslim and Christian students. Its mission is to use the world’s environmental resource challenges to build dialogue, cooperation, and trust among people and, in doing so, create a catalyst for peace.
Hazon, headquartered in New York City, is the largest environmental organization in the American Jewish community. They work to engage Jews in environmental education, action and advocacy to effect change. They do this a variety of ways, including a series of immersive multi-day retreats and events, Jewish outdoor, food, and environmental educational initiatives, and by supporting the wider Jewish environmental movement through networking activities.
About The Israel Ride
Israel Ride is one week long, which includes one day for an orientation, and a day off for Shabbat. You have three different routes to choose from, each covering different distances and itineraries, so there really is a ride for everyone, from beginners to hard-core cyclists.
Each Ride starts in Jerusalem and travels toward the Mediterranean coast. It then traverses near the Gaza border and makes its way, for the remainder of the ride, through the Negev desert. Riders travel toward the Egyptian border at the edge of the Sinai desert and conclude in the most southern city of Israel, Eilat. After the Ride, you are provided with a flight back to Tel Aviv, although there are post-ride excursions.
During the ride, you get full support, including bike mechanics, rest stops, medical staff, tour guides, security and more. Israel Ride provides everything you need so you can focus on the experience, cycling safely through the beauty of the country.
Although riders come from all over the world, a large contingency does come from the United States. They come on their own, with their family or as part of a team. And they are of all ages, including those celebrating a Bar or Bat Mitzvah.
“There are lots of riders from the East Coast, and the Atlanta area, but surprisingly, very few from the Midwest, let alone the Twin Cities,” said Sanderson, who is hoping to change that for this year’s ride.
With the help of The Jewish National Fund (JNF), a partner of both the Avara Institute and Israel Ride, Sanderson is working to get more people in the Twin Cities and Minnesota aware of the Ride and this amazing opportunity.
You can learn more about Israel Ride, including the costs involved and how to register, at an information event at Beth El Synagogue in St Louis Park, featuring Rabbi Alexander Davis of the Synagogue’s Center for Jewish Learning at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 19.
“The Ride provides a unique perspective for people to see the innovative things happening in Israel,” said Jason Rose, Associate Executive Director, Midwest of JNF. “If you want to see Israel from a different vantage or you simply want to ride your bike across the country, Israel Ride delivers.”
Said Sanderson: “There certainly is a fair amount of planning and a financial obligation to do the Ride,. But if you are looking for a challenge or a completely unique way to see parts of Israel that you might otherwise not see, it’s totally worth it.”
Wendy Jacobson is a freelance writer and content strategist living in Minneapolis with her husband, two kids and dog. When she’s not writing or driving her kids all around town, she enjoys a good cup of coffee, a good book, or good song from the 1980s. You can learn more about her at wendythepooh.com.