Ride Day Two | Stargazing and Sderot

Karen BrierNegev Trip 2013

Another wonderful day in Israel on the Ramah Israel Bike Ride and Hiking Trip! (Click here to read about today’s hike.)

This morning, some of our bikers rode from Ashkelon to Sderot, on the border with Gaza; others traveled by bus. We all then toured JNF’s Sderot Indoor Recreation Center, which has been supported by many donors in North America–including Ramah counselors–in the wake of so many years of missile attacks from Gaza. This amazing playground provides safe indoor play space for children in a building reinforced by steel and concrete.

All of us then rode the 22 miles from Sderot to Gevulot en route to the Negev desert. One of our riders, Beth Levine, has a friend who teaches pre-school at a kibbutz along our route. What a treat it was to be welcomed with cold drinks and the smiling faces of 20 two-year-olds who came out to the road to greet us!

After a sumptuous lunch of quiche, salad, and fresh vegetables, with lots to drink, half the group continued the ride (in the hot sun!) to our hotel at Mashabei Sade. The other half toured Kibbutz Revivim, the first Jewish settlement in the Negev, which paved the way for the Negev’s inclusion in the Jewish State. We learned about the incredible determination of Zionist pioneers who braved the desert heat and lack of water to establish this community. (Click here to view the map of today’s route.)

Michael Hoffenberg of Chicago commented, “This trip is really wonderful, and had I only met this wonderful group of people, dayenu (it would have been enough). Had I only experienced this trip to Israel, dayenu. Had I only enjoyed this biking challenge, dayenu. And had we only been involved in a fundraiser for such an important cause, dayenu. But put them all together, and this is truly amazing.”

After a great dinner, many riders and hikers enjoyed the opportunity to take advantage of this desert locale by using telescopes and learning about the constellations with a professional stargazer. We then came together for a party at the kibbutz pool (at least the 5 of us who were still awake!), ready for another adventure tomorrow as we head further south to the Ramon Crater for a restful and restorative Shabbat.

Layla tov from Southern Israel,
Rabbi Mitch Cohen, National Ramah Director