Three Larchmont Temple congregants recently took part in a premier cycling experience called the Israel Ride, travelling from Jerusalem to Eilat. Amy Lieberman, Amy Goldman and husband Joel Brill, all Larchmont residents, joined 200 riders and 15 Chaverim, non-cycling touring partners, on the ride October 23 to November 2. As the Larchmont Temple Spokesters Team, they raised $13,000 to benefit Hazon, America’s largest Jewish environmental group, and the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, based on Kibbutz Keturah in the Arava Valley. The team also included New Rochelle resident Allan Friedman and Karen Kwilecki from Suffern.
The Arava Institute is the pre-eminent environmental academic and research program in the Middle East, addressing critical environmental and humanitarian cross-border issues through its academic program, research institutes, and Track II Environmental Forum. The close to $1 M raised by all the riders, provides critical support to both organizations. The funding raised on the Ride goes to support scholarships for Middle Eastern-Israeli and Arab-students, the four Research Centers and the Track II Environmental Forum. As the Institute’s most recent initiative, Track II Forum is intended to “Promoting environmental agreements between Jordan, Israel and Palestine, to improve lives, protect the environment, and support sustainable resolution of conflict”. They are dedicated to preparing future leaders to solve the regional and global challenges of our time.
Goldman is a passionate supporter of the work of the Institute and is currently the Chair of the Friends of the Arava Institute. “I became involved with the Arava Institute and the US based Friends of Arava organization after my second Israel Ride in 2011. On all of the four Israel Rides that I have been on, I continue to be amazed by the Arava Institute alumni—the close friendships and support that they give each other in spite of very different backgrounds, their commitment to working in their local communities to promote cross-border environmental sustainability and their passion for looking for cooperative solutions,” Goldman explained. “I am also so proud of the leadership role that the Institute is taking to develop cooperative solutions to critical environmental issues, such as lack of a viable energy source and sewage treatment in Gaza and climate change adaptation. The Institute’ initiatives are so critical when the governmental peace discussions are at a standstill.”
The Spokesters Team enjoyed 5 days of biking with route options for recreational riders and experienced cyclists. They learned about the ecological challenges in the region and met with alumni from the Arava Institute. “The trip was a terrific experience,” Goldman said. “The ride was both challenging and rewarding. The alumni from the Institute spoke passionately about their experience that changed their lives. They were so inspiring.”