Monday, November 17, 2008

We Did It!

We did it!

It is hard to believe that it is only six days since we cycled out of Jerusalem -- five days of cycling, a wonderful, relaxing Shabbat in Mitzpeh Ramon, and, today, 282 miles later, we pedaled into Eilat!

I still owe some details on the past few days, each of which had it's own unique and special character. Even though this was my third Israel Ride, it was still a remarkable experience.

Today was a wonderful, if mostly uphill, ride from Kibbutz Ketura (and the Arava Institute) to Eilat. The treat came at the end, after miles of gentle (some not so gentle) uphill, when we got to the final descent into Eilat. We come in on the mountain road, with the final few miles of the ride beginning at about the same elevation as when we left Jerusalem, and ending at sea level. The group, all 105 of us, were metered out down the mountain, then regrouped at the edge of the city. From there, with a police escort, we rode as one group for the last few miles to the beach. It was wonderful, and exciting, and a bit sad -- we've all shared a great experience together, and the time to make our goodbyes, so some newfound friends, was here. It's been an emotional afternoon. For me, it was truly exciting to be here, and to do the ride again. A few of the riders asked me if it was different, how so, etc. For sure, it was different, but in now way less meaningful than the other times that I did it. Each has been marked by the same three events -- new friends, being able to witness and learn more about the remarkable work of the Institute and Hazon, and the sheer joy of finding myself cycling through this incredible setting, in a place that I love to be. I love it! (hard to describe, but just a wonderful, exhilarating week - the photos, or videos, will never do it justice)

Still, a few photos from the fifth, and final day of riding. I've posted about 30 photos to Facebook. The link to the album is:
I'll also post a complete set of photos to Flickr in the next few days.

Separate from the incredible experience of cycling almost 300 miles on a remarkable route, the real experience of the ride can best be described in five words -- We Have Seen The Future! Or, at least, one possible future. The students, and alumni, of the Arava Institute are remarkable young men and women -- they are from Israel, several of the neighboring countries and territories, Europe, and the U.S.; they are of diverse religions, as well as nationalities, and they all work to
gether as one. As a result of their experience at the Arava Institute, they find a common ground, an ability to understand each other's different perspectives, and they are building deep respect, friendships, and relationships across the borders of the middle east. It is really remarkable, especially in a region that has been marked by such deep conflict for much of it's history. The future that we've witnessed, through students at the institute is the one that all of us who care about Israel have prayed for for generations. The ride gave each of us a chance to witness this first hand, and to support allowing the work of the Institute and Hazon to reach their full potential.

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