Opening Day | The Journey Begins!

Karen BrierCentral Israel Trip 2017

After more than a year of preparation, the 2017 Ramah Israel Bike Ride and Hiking Trip to raise funds for Ramah special needs programs has begun! Our riders and hikers will journey through Central Israel along a Mediterranean to Dead Sea route, beginning in Ashdod and heading east through Jerusalem and the Judean Hills to Masada.

The excitement is palpable. On Monday night, many of us gathered for a reception hosted by Dr. Jeff and Beth Kopin, two of our Ramah hikers, at their beautiful home in Jerusalem. It was a wonderful celebration of the National Ramah Tikvah Network of programs for campers with disabilities. Today, our riders and hikers arrived in Ashdod for opening day.

Much preparation has been taking place, including setting up bikes, giving out clothes and gear, detailed briefings from our professional staff from Gordon Tours, practice rides, a map overview, and safety instructions–and we are ready to go!

Our riders and hikers began to bond as a group, sharing Ramah stories as well as biking and hiking tips. Ranging in age from 19-79, our riders and hikers represent several generations; locations throughout the U.S., Canada, and Israel, and all Ramah camp regions. We have 101 participants overall.

A great cheer went up from the group this evening when we announced that our collective fundraising efforts have now raised $437,000 from more than 3,000 donors! All is now ready for our launch. After Shacharit and breakfast, our riders and hikers will depart. Riders will choose one of three routes daily, averaging 25, 45, or 65 miles each day, with lots of climbing in the Judean Hills. Hikers will begin in the Maresha Caves of Bet Guvrin National Park tomorrow and hike through many beautiful and scenic trails as they traverse Central Israel. Our trip will culminate with all riders and hikers meeting up at Masada next Monday.

We extend our deep appreciation to all those whose support has enabled us to raise these needed funds for special needs programs, and many thanks to all of those who have wished us a safe and enjoyable trip.

Watch our opening day video and check out today’s photos!

Layla tov from Ashdod,

Rabbi Mitchell Cohen, Director
Amy Skopp Cooper, Associate Director
National Ramah Commission, Inc. of The Jewish Theological Seminary