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Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Beginning....

Greetings !!!

The Israel Ride is 5 days away. We have a group of 18 riders from the Mandell Jewish Community Center arriving in Israel November 1st and 2nd. We will meet up with the other Israel riders (175 total) and begin this incredible journey on November 4th. Please stay tuned for wonderful pictures and comments about our experience!

Monday, November 4, 2013


Photo Updates

Some more photos...

And check out Mel's blog when you get a chance!

Getting ready to go down the big crater.

Entering Eilat! 5 miles to go.

Israel's Grand Canyon.

Day 3

As we finished Day 3 of cycling around Israel we looked back at all the amazing sights we've seen in a way that many people never get to experience. Israel is such a beautiful and diverse country that is faced with some very severe environmental challenges. We have been in the desert, on busy highways, in archaeological digs, national parks, on a lovely Kibbutz, on the Mediterranean--the view is different and special at every turn. How lucky we are to be connected to a country that means so much to so many people and is a leader in science, technology and education. We heard presentations from former students who are working on environmental projects including sustainable water resource management and alternative energy sources like bio fuels generated from micro algae. These students from this region and North America are working on projects locally to help find solutions to global problems.
 Each day brings new insight and inspiration!

Friday, November 1, 2013

The People of the Ride

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 better the environment and peace process is truly inspirational. They are really introducing us to the environment, partnerships and Israel in ways we hadn't imagined! 

During pit stops and lunch breaks the crew feeds us,waters us and pumps up our tires and spirits  like we never imagined, showing off the Jewish value of Hachnasat Orchim (Hospitality/Welcoming Guests).

We are all so honored and happy to be here biking for these great causes and these amazing people!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Photos From Our Day

Visiting one of the Arava projects.

Our hosts at the Beadouin Village.
Our hosts at the Beadouin Village.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Making a Difference

Submitted by Bruce Stanger

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 sharing with friends and family where they were going when they went off to attend the one semester academic program for college-aged students on the regional environment in Israel.

The students of the Arava Institute study the environment, develop products, work on projects, and make a difference in the region. They have developed projects that allow for the generation of heat from waste. Other projects accumulate rainwater from individual homes for use in farming. They have a wonderful project that can take the gray water from a home and use it for irrigation. These projects are provided to the local communities who need them. These projects form the basis for an outreach to those that are far less fortunate.On Shabbat during the ride the students present to the riders on their experiences and reflections about being a part of the Arava Institute. These are very moving conversations where you see the tensions that develop among the students with different backgrounds, and the offsetting respect and love that they have for each other.

It is the hope of the Arava Institute that someday the director of the environment for each of the neighboring countries will be a graduate of the Arava Institute and that this will create a back channel for conversations about very important issues such as waste and the all-important issue of water in the region.

It is through these conversations, between the students and maybe someday between the heads of an agency, that the Arava Institute hopes that a real difference will be made in the community not just in the environment but in the cooperative dialogue that can occur when different people have a common goal. It has clearly happened on an individual student basis, and it has happened on a government to government basis; you can find out more about these successes by coming on the ride and meeting some of the students and staff. Over 30 people from the Hartford area have gone on the ride some of us multiple times.

If you want to learn more, you just need to reach out and ask someone at the Mandell JCC or elsewhere in the community, “Do you know someone who has gone on the Israel Ride?” The odds are you'll quickly be able to meet one of us. Please do reach out. Please do consider joining us on the ride next year and please do contribute in support of a rider's efforts to participate on this charity ride. You can contact me at or at 860-561-0651. To make a donation in support of a rider, visit