Sunday, November 15, 2009

The 2009 Israel Ride - Reflections and Regrets

The ride has been over for a few days now, I'm back home in the US, unpacked and mostly over the jet lag, and almost done uploading photos and videos. A few final reflections and, yes, a regret, as I think back on my fourth Israel Ride:
  • The "bookends" to my ride this year, beginning and end, were spent with Adam and Michelle in Tel Aviv. I'd love for Adam, and each of my kids, to "end up" close to home, but if they can't be close to home, it is really special to see them so "at home" in Israel!
  • It was wonderful to have Adam and Michelle join me as fellow Israel Riders for the first day of the ride -- what a treat, not only to share the excitement of the day with them, but also to see them, as a couple, navigate the challenges of the day and, each in their own way, make sure that both of them biked the full route. Not to mention my joy, back in Tel Aviv, to hear them still talking about what a great experience it was. I'm a lucky Dad.
  • The JNF truly is the "caretaker of the Land of Israel". Their presence was everywhere we went -- in land & water restoration projects (including the Hula Valley), parks and recreations area, nature preserves, re-foresting the land, plans for the sustainable development of the Negev, and support for an expanding network of road and mountain bike trails throughout Israel, just to name a few examples.
  • The Israel Ride is more than just a ride, it is about building a community around the environment, the exciting work of the Arava Institute, and Hazon, and helping to lay the groundwork for a better future for everyone in the middle east, and it is truly uplifting to meet the students and alumni of the Arava Institute, from both Israel and her neighbors, and see the strong bonds and love that they have developed with each other. By their actions, they demonstrate the good things that the future may hold. And, the riders are a great group of people -- what a privilege it was to have this week to share with them and to become friends with them. I hope to see many of them again.
  • But, everything else aside, the Israel Ride is also about the ride. All the words, photos, and videos combined can't begin to capture the sheer joy and excitement of being in Israel, on a bike, riding through the land that we love. If you're reading this, and able, I hope that you will do the ride yourself someday. You won't regret it!
  • I do the ride in memory of my stepfather, Rabbi Morris Gordon, and in honor of his lifelong love for Israel, his passion for Judaism, and his commitment to the JNF. While in Israel for this year's ride, I got to visit with Morris' daughter, Arlene, her husband, Ami, his grandson, Guy, Guy's wife, Inbar, and their three children, Morris' great-grandchildren, and, of course, my son, Morris' step grandson, Adam. Morris can be at rest, comfortable that his legacy, our future, is in good hands.
And, finally, a regret -- on the morning after the 2008 Israel Ride we were treated to one of those amazing Israeli hotel breakfast buffet's. One choice on the buffet was chocolate cheesecake. I held back, only to find myself craving chocolate cheesecake for the past 12 months! When I signed up for the 2009 ride, I even put it on my calendar -- Tuesday, November 10, Chocolate Cheesecake in Eilat. My regret? There was no chocolate cheesecake this year, only blueberry. Maybe next year....

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