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BikeIsrael 2010 concludes with a Yom Ha’Atzma’ut victory lap

April 20, 2010 2 comments

Mayor Alon Schuster waves flag of Sha'ar Hanegev at BikeIsrael2010's conclusion

 

By Ulla Hadar

SHA’AR HANEGEV, Israel — A large number of people gathered the morning of Yom Haatzmaut in the Arnon community Center situated in the municipality of Shaar Hanegev to celebrate Israeli independence with a mixed group of BikeIsrael 2010 riders from the local kibbutzim and from their partnership region of San Diego, California.

A tour of the Sha’ar Hanegev region, which sits along the volatile Gaza border,  started in the San Diego-supported student village of Ibim and ended at the construction site for the rocket-proof educational village of Sha’ar Hanegev.

On the day before, which was Israeli memorial day (Yom Hazikaron), the group participated in a ceremony commemorating all fallen soldiers and terror victims in Israel.  The bikers joined with
students and educational staff of the Sha’ar Hanegev High School for this emotional commemoration.

This was the second year of the project sponsored by the United Jewish Federation of San Diego County.  In 2009, the route began in Metulla, adjacent to Israel’s border with Lebanon, and ended in the municipality of Sha’ar Hanegev in the Negev Desert.The first group raised more than $100,000 dollars for the Shaar Hanegev Educational village.  Rick Kornfeld, one of the Initiaters, said that the goal for this year’s fundraising is to get as close to that amount as possible.

Bike Israel 2010 started this year’s 300 ride on April 10 from Rosh Hanikra in the far northern tip of Israel.  From there the riders transited the mountains of the Galilee, the shores of the Kinneret, and the cities and towns of Emek Izrael, Zichon Yaacov, Netanya, Modiin, and Jerusalem.  They ended on the 18th of April in the municipality of Sha’ar Hanegev, which is considered the northern gateway to the Negev Desert.

Sha’ar Hanegev has been under constant rocket attack by Hamas terrorists for more than  eight years.  The rocket hardened high school is intended to demonstrate to the world that not only will such attacks scare Israelis from  the area; Israelis will further improve Sha’ar Hanegev by building a high school modeled on the programs of High Tech High School in San Diego as well as San Diego Jewish Academy.

Besides Kornfeld, participants from San Diego County this year included Wolf Bielas; Jeff Belk; Cyril Light;Eli Glovinsky;  Robert Lapidus and Cathy Pucher. This year, like last year, I had the privilege of joining the ride and representing San Diego Jewish World in my capacity as its  volunteer bureau chief in Sha’ar Hanegev. 

Cecila Wolfman from kibbutz Or Haner was among the local riders as were several other residents who joined on parts of the trip.

Mayor Alon Schuster met the group on the evening before the start of the ride.”The idea of this bike ride in Israel is very symbolic in many ways, to go from the North to the South, from border to border, and the whole ride being performed in the period stretching from Holocaust Day through Yom HaZikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day) and finishing in Sha’ar Hanegev on Yom Ha’atzma’ut (Israel’s Independence Day.),” Schuster told them.

He finished by praising everyone for the friendship and partnership and wished everyone a good and safe ride.
Schuster also was on hand in Sha’ar Hanegev to greet the group upon the completion of their ride.  He enthusiastically waved a huge flag of the municipality for the occasion.
“I have been to Israel several times , but there has been nothing for me like this time experiencing Israel from the saddle of a bike,” commented Cyril Light, a member of the San Diego County delegation. “Being close to the people of Israel, riding through the country, and watching the flag moving in the wind have made an
extremely close connection for me. There is something in my heart that explodes now just when I talk about it.”

He added: “I am so glad that I decided to join this bike ride through Israel although I had my
hesitation about the miles we had to do each day. But if you set your mind to it, you just do. This trip has not had biking as the main issue, but foremost the people.  I now feel a very close connection to this area and to the people I have met, it has been a very different kind of trip for me.”
People desiring to donate to the school project may do so via the website, www.bikeisrael2010.com

Raring to go at ride's beginning were Cecila Waxman and Ulla Hadar, Sha'ar Hanegev, Rick Kornfeld, Jeffrey Belk, Robert Lapidus, Wolf Bielas, Cathy Pucher, Cyril Light and Eli Glovinsky.

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Hadar is Sha’ar Hanegev bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World, an all-volunteer publication