Local bicyclists are hosting a ride, open to all on June 23, to shed light on environmentalism, coexistence and a larger Israeli bike ride in support of those values.
The local June 23 ride, set to start at 1 p.m. at Wheel and Sprocket, 6940 N. Santa Monica Blvd. in Fox Point, is to include an informational session on environmental, sustainability and coexistence efforts in Israel. Though there is no charge to join the June 23 Team JNF Family Bike Ride that then starts in Fox Point, participants will learn about the Israel Ride, a south-of-Israel tour and fundraiser set for Nov. 5-12, 2019.
Team JNF Family Bike Ride
The Team JNF Family Bike Ride is actually a pair of rides set for June 23. They start at Wheel and Sprocket which will host an informational session inside the store. Expect a 20-minute presentation, including an Israel Ride video, pictures from past rides and a discussion with Miriam Leichtling, director of cycling events and engagement for Hazon in New York City.
After that, the rides begin. One will be a family-friendly ride of around 5 miles in the neighborhoods of Fox Point and Whitefish Bay, also utilizing bike paths. A casual, longer ride of around 15-20 miles will utilize bike paths with a trip down to the Discovery World area and back.
How to go
Israel Ride: Team JNF Family Bike Ride is a Milwaukee-area ride organized by Wisconsinites seeking to draw attention to a November Israel Ride from Jerusalem to Eilat.
When: Local ride and informational session on June 23, 1 p.m.
Where: Wheel and Sprocket, 6940 N. Santa Monica Blvd. in Fox Point; park in the northeast corner of the parking lot.
How much: Free
The informational session will also focus on the work of two nongovernmental organizations. The goal, said Cantor David Barash, is “to have a fun family gathering and so people know about these two wonderful organizations.” Barash is cantor at Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun in River Hills. He is one of the key organizers of the local rides.
“We’d love to see people from the whole community come join us for our first ‘Israel Ride: Team JNF Family Bike Ride’,” said Sue Carneol, president of Jewish National Fund – Wisconsin Region. “It’s going to be a lot of fun and a great opportunity to learn about some amazing things that are happening in Israel.”
The Israel Ride – a big one
As far as annual Israel Rides go, this is a big one for Wisconsin. Though local people have participated before, the November, 2019 ride is already set to be the largest delegation organizers can remember.
“We’ve had incredible buy-in and interest from the Wisconsin area and David Barash’s team,” Leichtling said. So far Wisconsin has the largest team signed up – currently 13 people, including one non-riding person coming along.
“For people in a couples dynamic, sometimes there’s one person who is really interested in riding and one who is not,” Leichtling said. “So we’ve created a non-riding group called Chaverim. Their tours parallel where we are riding, on a non-riding basis.” Plenty of husbands, wives, cousins and friends have all participated this way, she said.
The Israel Ride benefits The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies in the Negev and Hazon, both nongovernmental organizations. Hazon works toward sustainability through retreats and educational programs. The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies hosts Arab and Jewish students and leaders, to learn to work together while solving the region’s environmental challenges.
Karen Schapiro, a local environmental attorney who is on the board of Jewish National Fund –Wisconsin Region, is also on the board of Friends of the Arava.
“Nature knows no borders so it’s necessary to bring people together to work on the problems of water scarcity and air pollution and climate change,” Schapiro said. “The fascinating thing is you bring together people who have never heard the other’s narrative.”
She tells the story of a man from Gaza and a Jewish Israeli who arrived at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies to study and work together. “For the first several weeks they both slept with one eye open,” she said, but later they became friends.
This team of 13 people, affiliated with the Jewish National Fund – Wisconsin Region, is joining the Israel Ride in November of 2019. They are currently the largest team for 2019 signed up from any region in the United States.
Cantor David Barash, team captain
Debra Gorra Barash
“They’re doing real work and building partnerships,” Schapiro said of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, which is affiliated with Ben-Gurion University. Students can attend the institute for college credit. Some have gone on to work on projects together afterwards, forming new nonprofits.
The Israel Ride is the institute’s single largest fundraiser, Schapiro said. Schapiro has joined the Israel Ride previously, will join it again in 2019 and plans to join the June 23 local ride. The five-day Israel Ride takes scores of participants from Jerusalem to Eilat in the south, stopping at Biblical sites and locations of environmental interest along the way. Riders also stop and tour the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, where they talk with students and enjoy a big barbecue.
Leichtling said the voyage is beautiful, taking riders from the hills of the Jerusalem to the Red Sea.