Day 1 of the Ramah Israel Bike Ride and Hiking Trip was wonderful. Beginning in Jerusalem, we all came together for an inspiring opening ceremony at Har Bahar in the Judaean Hills. The hikers spent the next 8 hours enjoying a strenuous but enjoyable hike before settling in to the Kibbutz hotel at Mashabei Sade in the northern Negev desert. (Click here to read about today’s hike.)
The riders spent the morning descending toward Beit Guvrin, biking through vineyards and farms on back roads with very little traffic. The views were spectacular and so was the riding. (Click here to view the map of today’s route.)
After a restful lunch break, some riders toured the ancient caves at Beit Guvrin and then went on to enjoy the hotel on the beaches of Ashkelon, while others continued biking all the way through the plains to this beautiful coastal city. Tonight we all came together for our nightly briefing and some inspiring words from Rick Goldstein, our rider from Colorado who has impaired vision. Rick is able to be part of this trip because his friend Derek agreed to ride a tandem bike with him. Rick’s explanation of his disability and words of appreciation were uplifting.
Jay Ruderman, a funder and leader in the cause for inclusion of people with disabilities, joined us for a little while. He told us of his respect for Ramah and Tikvah, and for everyone’s efforts to raise funds through this great Israel experience. Marty Davis from the World Zionist Organization, an Ashkelon resident and leader at the local Masorti community, spoke to us about issues in Israeli politics and the burden that Ashkelon faces from being threatened with missiles from Gaza.
Finally, the evening included a detailed briefing on tomorrow’s ride. Everyone has now gone to bed thoroughly exhausted but anticipating another great ride tomorrow.
Layla tov from Ashkelon,
Rabbi Mitch Cohen, National Ramah Director