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ERIC SCHACHAR’S WILD ISRAELI RIDE
Eric Schachar knows hot. He also knows tired. This 16-year-old from Texas undertook an enormous challenge. Over five days, he rode 350 miles through the Israeli heat, from Neveh Shalom, which lies between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, to
Eilat at Israel’s southern tip. He did it all to benefit the environment in Israel’s Arava Valley.
Eric took part in an annual bike ride sponsored by Hazon - an organization that promotes Jewish learning – and the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (AIES), located in Israel on Kibbutz Ketura. In order to participate, Eric had to raise $3,600 from sponsors. The donations subsidize AIES’s efforts to preserve the wilderness in the Arava Valley, which stretches south from the Dead Sea to Eilat.
We asked Eric some questions about his journey:
• What inspired you to do the bike ride from Neveh Shalom to Eilat?
"I was inspired to do the bike ride by my love for Israel and my enjoyment of biking. When I found out that I could help Israel by biking, I jumped on the idea, raised the money and went for it!"
• Did anyone question why you would want to take this challenge?
"My classmates questioned why I would want to do the ride. I told them that by doing it, not only could I help a country that I love, but I could do it by doing something that I love."
• What was the hardest part of the ride?
"The hardest part was riding through the heat. I had a hard time keeping myself hydrated."
• How did you keep yourself going, even when you were hot and exhausted?
"I kept myself going by thinking that I could do it and that I was almost there."
•How did you feel when you arrived in Eilat?
"I had a great feeling. It felt like winning a race because I finished such a long ride."
• What was the most surprising thing you learned on your trip?
"The most surprising thing I learned was how much we need to help Israel, not only by going there, but by helping the environment there."
• How did your trip impact your feelings about Israel?
"My trip made me see Israel as our homeland. We should do what we can to help it."
• How did you get into long distance bike riding?
"I got started in cycling after I fixed up my dad’s old bicycle. When I rode it, I found an inner peace, so I kept on riding."
• Is there anything else you want to share about your experience?
"Doing the ride from Neveh Shalom to Eilat was a great experience. It was my first time in Israel and the Arava Institute helped me by showing me where to go and making sure that I was on my flight back home. I felt like I wasn't there by myself. The people were also great. The Israeli people made me feel like I was at home, as if I was in a place where I was meant to be."
A TOUR OF ISRAEL
Eilat is a kid's paradise. It's got sand and sea and is an ideal family vacation spot. The kids will love snorkeling, swimming with the dolphins, and peering at the "fishies" from a glass-bottomed boat. Not to mention watching the awesome sharks in action at the Underwater Observatory (from safely behind a big glass window.)
Dive with dolphins at Dolphin Reef using snorkel equipment. You can watch the dolphins being fed or frolicking. Or take a walk on the wooden pier in the dolphins' area for a closer look.
The Negev is part of an amazing 12,000 square kilometer desert that stretches from Egypt through the southern part of Israel to Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
This is situated between Beersheva and Eilat. Of all of Israel's desert regions, the Ramon area has the most flowers. Because of the cold desert winters, the flowers here bloom in late winter and early spring, making the whole area a riot of color.
Many species of animals live here too. The Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority has been able to breed animals that had disappeared from the Negev Desert. One is the onager, a wild donkey. Another is the ibex, which now romps happily on the cliffs of
The Negev also has leopards, hyenas, gazelles, wolves, and red foxes.
Israel has one of the world's most beautiful coastlines, with white sandy beaches and spectacular Mediterranean views. South of Tel Aviv is the city of Ashkelon.
Like so many other places in Israel, Ashkelon is built upon the ruins of past civilizations. Today, Ashkelon is growing again. Its population is about 90,000.
Ashkelon has great beaches plus incredible archaeological ruins, some of them more than 3000 years old.
Create a tour brochure for Eric using the information above. Your ideas can be sent to Academy BJE at 56 Roscoe St, Bondi, 2026.