Reporting in after day one of the Israel Ride. We go from dawn to dusk, so I haven’t even had time to absorb the election results. While “on your left” is heard a lot on bike rides, evidently it wasn’t heard that often in the polling booths. I did just 43 miles today, one excruciating hill and a lot of gravel from the rains, then put my bike on the truck and went with about a third of the riders to visit Sederot. This little town of 25,000 is unique in that it is not even a mile from the Gaza border and therefore is such a great target for Hamas rockets. For the past 7-8 years it has had to absorb almost daily barrages of rockets raining down on its homes and businesses and public places. There are exactly 15 seconds between the warning siren and the rocket’s arrival. Bomb/ rocket shelters are everywhere, especially noticeable on street corners where you see little structures the size of bus stop shelters but enclosed with ceilings of steel and reinforced concrete. If you are driving, you have fifteen seconds to stop the car and get to safety. Imagine living like that! We also visited a JNF funded enclosed playground of 2200 square feet with safe rooms; it serves 500 kids on days that school is closed for whatever reason. Hopefully the current quiet will continue.
Part of the fun of the ride is meeting new people. Last night my roommate was a 60- something cantorial student who lives a good part of the year in Alaska; you should see his bike gloves. Tonight it is an educator from south Florida who began as an elementary school classroom teacher and 40 years later is developing online educational models. One serves high school athletes and entertainers who often are “home schooled” for convenience with little quality. One is for B’nai Mitzvah families. His most exciting model is called Smart Horizons Career Online Education. It is aimed at the 45+ million Americans who didn’t finish high school. Walmart and Taco Bell and McDonalds are among the corporations that are picking up the full tab for any of their employees who want to get the degree. The price for up to four years in the program is so very modest ($1200 in toto) that it really feels like a mitzvah. Such are the kind of people the ride attracts.
Tomorrow is 85 miles, but one new climb out of a crater looks 90 degrees on the elevation chart so I doubt I will do the whole ride. The overnight may or may not have wifi, but I will plan to write on Friday from Mitzpeh Ramon. Our bikers btw are doing fine and send their regards. Best, Bill Rudolph
P.S. Today was the 19th anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, a soldier in the IDF and then in the war for peace. He is still missed very much.