One of the reasons for the success of the Israel Ride (https://IsraelRide.org) is the very dedicated crew and ride staff. These members of the Israel Ride typically are students and alumni of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (http://www.arava.org) who participate in the ride because of their belief in the good that the Arava Institute is doing and to help ride participants have the best time possible. Students and alumni of the Arava Institute are Israeli Jews and Arabs, Palestinians, and Jordanians. Once ride participants start getting to know crew and staff on a personal level we stop thinking of them in the sterotypical sense that is always presented in the news. The photo below is of staff and crew members during Day 3 lunch break at the Ben Gurion Memorial in Sde Baker.

Staff and crew members assisting ride participants during the 2016 Israel Ride (photo taken at the Ben Gurion Memorial in Sde Boker)

Let’s Meet Alumit (“Alma”) Gelber

I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with our group (Tzofim) ride leader Alma Gelber. She is a very fascinating example of the type of person that is a product of the Arava Institute.

Morris Maslia standing with the Tzofim ride leader Alma Gelber (photo taken at an Ariel Sharon Memorial near the Israel-Gaza border)

Alma attended the Arava Institute during 2004-05 had has gone on to obtain a Bachelors degree in Environmental Science and most recently earned a Masters degree in Urban Planning. Currently, she works for Israel’s National Land Authority.

Alma has three children–2 boys and a girl. The last child, a girl, was born during June 2015. While Alma was leading ride groups during the 2014 Israel Ride (the ride that this author participated in), she was 10-weeks pregnant with her youngest child. When asked why she continued to participate in the ride, Alma said she just did not want to miss out on helping ride participants experience the Israel Ride and promote the Arava Institute.

Alma and her family live on Kibbutz Gannigar that is located near Afula and Nazareth. She has about a 20-minute commute to her office at the National Land Authority.

Alma has previously held an Internship in the United States when she was sent to the US by the Arava Institute. She worked on the program to “Keep Chicago Beautiful.” After that, Alma backpacked through the western US  National Parks.

Alma extended to me her sincere thanks for all the participants that help support the Arava Institute because it brings hope and cooperation in an area of the world where there is so much darkness and pessimism. Alma believes that the late Leonard Cohen’s lyrics that are most appropriate for what the Arava Institute stands for and accomplishes are, “there is a crack in everything and that’s how the light gets in.” This writer could not agree more.

Thank you Alma and all Israel Ride staff and crew for making each Israel Ride such a meaningful and transformational bike ride and event that anyone can ever experience.