Biking 315 miles over ten days will get you in good physical shape, and that would probably be enough of a goal for most people. But Adi Segal—a junior at the Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies of The Jewish Theological Seminary and a student in List College's Joint Program with Columbia University—wanted more than just stronger calf muscles.
Recently, as he searched for a way to combine his passions for Israel, Arab-Israeli coexistence, and the environment, Adi set out on his bike and entered the ten-day Israel Ride to raise money and awareness for the Arava Institute (a regional center for environmental leadership) and Hazon (the largest Jewish environmental organization in North America). Over the last six years, the Israel Ride has raised almost $1.5 million for the Arava Institute and nearly $3.5 million for Hazon.
With forty fellow participants on the Israel Ride, Adi, pedaling his trusty Cannondale R500 from the northern city of Tzfat to the southern border in Eilat, saw Israel as few get to experience it. "This ride provided a unique vantage point from which to experience Israel. I've seen most of Israel in many different ways—small groups, large groups, hiking, busing, and driving—but rolling through the country on a bicycle is extraordinary. You better appreciate the height of the mountains, the geographic and climatic diversity of the country, the nature that surrounds you, and especially the diversity of the people who live within the area," Adi says.
Living in Israel for the semester while studying at the Arava Institute (located on Kibbutz Ketura on the Israeli-Jordanian border), Adi specifically brought his bike along for the Israel Ride. An avid environmentalist, he is one of the founders of the JTS EcoReps, a student group committed to making JTS more eco-conscious. A look at the courses he is taking at the Arava Institute-Sustainable Agriculture, Environmental Science, Energy Policy and Management, Research Methodologies, Bible as a Key to Environmental Thought, and EcoHealth-is testament to his commitment to sustainability.
Adi is but the latest participant from JTS to do the Israel Ride: List College alumni Daniel Max Kestin, Lauren Appelbaum, Talya Bock, and Andrea Wershof Schwartz participated in May 2005. "For JTS students, who clearly feel committed to Judaism, the Israel Ride creates a context in which their Judaism relates to larger environmental issues," said Renna Khuner-Haber who works to coordinate events for Hazon and graduated from List College in 2009.
Adi was one of the youngest participants on the most recent Israel Ride, and reports that the event brought together a diverse group of people-different ages, different backgrounds-all of whom share the common goal of improving the environment. Says Adi, "I went without knowing anyone, but I left with many new friends and contacts. It is a nice community of people who have done the ride and I feel like part of the club."
For more information about the Israel Ride or if you are interested in participating, visit www.israelride.org. The Israel Ride includes options for experienced riders through to beginners. The next Israel Ride is in October 2010 and registration is already open.