Our Partners

The Israel Ride Beneficiaries

The Israel Ride is a fundraising event benefiting two innovative organizations:

The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (AIES) and Hazon.

The Israel Ride was founded to show solidarity with Israel at a very difficult time,
and to provide new avenues for supporting their crucial peace-building and sustainability programs.




Exciting Updates!

In 2021, both of the Israel Ride’s beneficiaries announced exciting changes in leadership


The Arava Institute

Dr. Tareq Abu Hamed was unanimously appointed Director of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, replacing David Lehrer who has led the Institute for 20 years. This is the first appointment of a Palestinian to head an Academic Institute in Israel. Read More

Hazon (and Pearlstone)

Hazon hopes to merge with Pearlstone. Jakir Manela (current Pearlstone CEO and longtime Hazon participant and board member) will lead the joint organization, replacing Nigel Savage who has led Hazon for 21 years. Read More

Our Partners


Howie Rodenstein : Founder & Chairman, Israel Ride

Howie Rodenstein

Founder & Chairman, Israel Ride

Howie Rodenstein is an avid Zionist and cyclist. Howie founded the Ride in 2002, to show solidarity with Israel at a very difficult time and to raise money for two very special organizations that make a real difference in the world. He has chaired and participated in the Ride every year – and considers himself lucky to have met so many incredible people along the way. Howie is also a board member of Hazon, the Friends of the Arava Institute, and the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. Howie grew up in Young Judaea, earned his MBA from Harvard Business school, and has lived in Israel for over seven years at various times from ages 18 – 42. He has also been active in his local Jewish community. He is married with 2 children, of whom he is exceedingly proud.

David Eisenberg : Vice Chair, Israel Ride

David Eisenberg

Vice Chair, Israel Ride

David Eisenberg has been Vice Chair of the Israel Ride since 2012 and Captain of Team JNF on the Israel Ride since 2005. His primary responsibility is the lay leadership of the Israel Ride’s recruiting and growth strategy. David is on the Boards of the Friends of the Arava Institute (FAI) and JNF New England. He is a past Board member of Temple Aliyah of Needham, MA and the Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston. In addition to the Israel Ride, David is Captain of Team ASPS (Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma) on the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC) and an annual participant in Cycle for Survival. David is a graduate of Beloit College and Harvard Business School. He and his wife, Fran Caplan, are the proud parents of Adam, Benji, Sara, and Josh.

Arava Institute of Environmental Studies

Dr. Tareq Abu Hamed : Executive Director, Arava Institute for Environmental Studies

Dr. Tareq Abu Hamed

Executive Director, Arava Institute for Environmental Studies

Prior to his appointment as ED, Tareq Abu Hamed served as the Arava Institute’s Academic Director as well as the Director of the Institute’s Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation (CREEC). In 2013 he became the Israeli Ministry of Science’s Deputy Chief Scientist, and later the Acting Chief Scientist, the highest ranking Palestinian in the Israeli government at that time. Dr. Abu Hamed holds a Bachelor and a Master of Science in Chemical Engineering from Gazi University (Turkey), and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Ankara University (Turkey). He has completed two terms of postdoctoral research, one at the Environmental Science and Energy Research Department of the Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel), and the second at the University of Minnesota’s Mechanical Engineering Department Solar Energy Lab. He also holds a Masters in Public Policy from Hebrew University. He lives in East Jerusalem with his wife and five children.

Avigail Ben Yohanan : Israel Ride Director

Avigail Ben Yohanan

Israel Ride Director

Avigail Ben Yohanan comes from the world of informal education and logistics, and has a Masters Degree in environmental geography. A tenth-generation Jerusalemite, Avigail now lives on Kibbutz Ketura with her husband and daughters. She is loving the craziness of working on the Israel Ride and looks forward to meeting all the Riders who make it happen!

Lindsey Zemler : Israel Ride Crew Leader

Lindsey Zemler

Israel Ride Crew Leader

Lindsey Zemler is originally from Boulder, Colorado, and has been involved with Arava Institute since 2010, in various roles on campus, on the bike ride and in the alumni community. Lindsey has an M.Sc. in Environmental Science, Policy and Management and has worked in sustainability education, community project management, and environmental resource management. She has lived (and worked on environmental topics) in Hungary, Sweden, Greece, Israel, Colorado and Cape Cod.


Jakir Manela : CEO, Hazon

Jakir Manela

CEO, Hazon

Jakir Manela is the new CEO of Hazon. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2004, and after training as a Teva Jewish outdoor environmental educator, he founded Kayam Farm at Pearlstone in 2006, and became Pearlstone’s Executive Director in 2012. Jakir was the 2014 JCSA North American Young Professional of the Year, and received the inaugural Lippman Kanfer Prize for Applied Jewish Wisdom in 2016 for the groundbreaking Jewish farm-based curricula Chai VeKayam & Hadrah Alach. Jakir helped lead Pearlstone to its perennial status in the Slingshot Guide as one of the most innovative Jewish organizations in North America. Jakir lives just in Baltimore with his incredible wife Nets, four boys ages 4 to 14, and an energetic puppy named Gaia. He coaches youth sports and loves building campfires and making music with friends.

Sara Pilavin : Associate Director of Special Events

Sara Pilavin

Associate Director of Special Events

Sara Pilavin is the Associate Director of Special Events at Hazon. She joins Hazon after spending the past 8 years working at UJA-Federation of New York in their Fundraising and Marketing departments. She graduated from Queens College with a major in Sociology, and a minor in Student Services and Counseling. Sara is thrilled to be working on the Israel Ride, blending her love and passion for Israel, sustainability, and connection. After bouncing around most of Manhattan, Sara is happily settled in Brooklyn, NY.

sara.pilavin@hazon.org 212.908.2520

Elana Eyal : Special Events Coordinator

Elana Eyal

Special Events Coordinator

Elana Eyal is Hazon's Special Events Coordinator, dedicated to the organization and smooth sailing of Hazon's special events including the Israel Ride. Prior to joining Hazon, she worked for a renewable energy (biogas) startup and at a socially-conscious video production company. Elana is very connected to Israel, where she lived for 8 years after graduating from Tel Aviv University. She loves all things outdoors, making art, practicing yoga, and has backpacked solo throughout the world.

elana.eyal@hazon.org 212.908.2513

Friends of the Arava Institute

Miriam May : Chief Executive Officer, Friends of the Arava Institute

Miriam May

Chief Executive Officer, Friends of the Arava Institute

Miriam S. May most recently served as the Director of Institutional Advancement at Harvard Hillel. Previously she served as the founding Managing Director of the Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard University and as Executive Director of the Susan G. Komen Foundation of Massachusetts. Previously, she lived in New York City and was a Vice President at Citibank. Miriam has an MBA from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and a BS in Labor Relations/Organizational Behavior from Cornell University. She is married to Shaye Cohen and they have four children.

Rachel Kalikow : Director of Development, Friends of the Arava Institute

Rachel Kalikow

Director of Development, Friends of the Arava Institute

Rachel Kalikow comes to the Friends of the Arava Institute with over 20 years of experience in development and community outreach. Most recently, she spent nearly seven years as the Director of Community Outreach at Gann Academy in Waltham, MA. She has held development roles for Foundation for Jewish Culture, Jewish Women’s Archive, Facing History and Ourselves, and the New Israel Fund. After supporting friends who have participated in the Israel Ride, Rachel is excited to join the Israel Ride staff team and see the Ride firsthand!

Rachel Durning : Communications and Development Manager, Friends of the Arava Institute

Rachel Durning

Communications and Development Manager, Friends of the Arava Institute

Rachel has a background in international nonprofit work and study abroad in the Middle East. She most recently worked at AMIDEAST, where she sent American students to study abroad programs in the Arabic-speaking world, and she has also interned with the Director of Development at Refugees International. Rachel has worked in China and the Netherlands and has studied in Morocco, Egypt, and Jordan. She has a BA in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania.

rdurning@friendsofarava.org 617.266.7100


The Israel Ride is a fully supported event. We provide a full support-and-gear (SAG) service on the road.

In addition to our staff, each of our three riding groups has its own mechanics, pace cars, sweep bus, medical personnel, and photographers. Crew teams help with rest stops and riding. Lead riders pace (in front) and sweep (in back) each group as well as provide general bicycle support. Tour guides accompany each group to provide education at rest stops.

The majority of the crew are Arava Institute alumni. They are students and professionals from Israel, Jordan, Palestine, and around the world who take a break from their lives, just like you, to enjoy the experience of being on the Israel Ride.

“We are not just talking about it, we are doing it. We are changing things together.”
—Abeer Abu Sara, Palestinian Alumna

About the Arava Institute


The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies is one of the leading environmental academic and research institutions in the Middle East. Its mission is to use the world’s environmental resource challenges to build dialogue, cooperation, and trust among people and, in doing so, create a catalyst for peace.

Located on Kibbutz Ketura in southern Israel, the Arava Institute is dedicated to training the next generation of environmental leaders—Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians, and students from around the world. By studying cutting-edge approaches to water resource management, ecology, sustainable agriculture, and renewable energy, students at the Arava Institute learn to collaborate around their shared environmental concerns.

The Arava Institute offers students an exceptional opportunity to learn from leading professionals while forming friendships and developing skills that enable them to lead the region and world in solving today’s most pressing environmental challenges. These relationships build the trust and last far beyond students’ time at the Institute. Today, the Arava Institute has over 1,400 alumni, the majority of whom live in the Middle East and continue to work in the environmental field and social justice fields.

Academic Programs

Arava Students copy

At the Arava Institute, students can study for one or two semesters. Students take between 4-5 courses in natural and social environmental sciences in the areas of water management, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, environmental ethics, and more. Students can also choose to pursue an independent project for the duration of the semester. All courses are taught in English.

Each semester, the Arava Institute brings concepts from the classroom to life in a real-world context through field trips to different regions in the Middle East. On these educational field trips, students meet with experts on regional environmental issues and conflict resolution, hear from local stakeholders, and visit historic sites and museums.

The Arava Institute’s program brings together between 40-50 students from Israel, Palestine, Jordan, the United States, and around the world. No other program allows students from such varied political, cultural, and religious backgrounds to live, study, and learn about one another for a semester or more. Together, students also take part in the Peace-building and Environmental Leadership Seminar where they explore issues of culture, religion, identity, and the current political situation.

The Institute typically brings together a student body comprised of approximately 1/3 Arabs, 1/3 Jewish Israelis and 1/3 North Americans. This representation of young people is critical to the overall success of the peace-building approach since one of the main objectives is to encourage environmental cooperation across different communities in the region. Involving North Americans in the program reflects the influence of the United States in the Israeli-Arab conflict and widens participants’ perspectives on environmental issues as well as enabling a deeper understanding of the conflict and exploring models for mitigating the conflict.

Peace-Building & Environmental Leadership Seminar

Central to the Arava Institute’s program is its Peace-Building and Environmental Leadership Seminar (PELS) and lecture series to develop students’ leadership skills and provide them with a facilitated forum for expressing their views on race, religion, culture, identity, and the current political situation. Over the course of the program, PELS’s students develop:

  • Cultural understanding, respect, empathy and self-reflection
  • A sense of empowerment, agency and initiative
  • A sense of shared community, even during times of conflict
  • Skills for effective and open dialogue, campaigning, and advocacy
  • Informed perspectives on the politics of the Middle East and the environment
  • A general understanding of coexistence initiatives and environmental campaigns

Beyond the PELS curriculum, the Institute provides students with an exceptional opportunity to learn about their classmates’ cultural backgrounds in a sensitive way that prepares them to be better communicators and leaders in the years to come. Students attend class, study, and eat together – as many as eight students live together in one dorm unit. The necessity of navigating challenges posed by cultural and religious differences in the dining room, the classroom, and the dorms are lessons in themselves. These experiences build cross-cultural understanding, confidence, and an important set of leadership skills that students apply to future academic and professional settings.

Research Studies

The Arava Institute is also home to five environmental research and development centers. Each center has its own trans-boundary environmental mission and applied-technology programs. Center researchers serve as the Arava Institute’s core faculty in the academic program.

  • The Arava Center for Sustainable Development (ACSD), directed by Shmuel Brenner, works to reduce poverty, enhance sustainability, and empower communities by supporting locally driven, environmentally focused development programs worldwide.
  • The Center for Trans-boundary Water Management (CTWM), directed by Clive Lipchin provides a platform for regional water professionals and policy makers to cooperate in water conservation, desalination, wastewater treatment, and public education activities.
  • The Center for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA), directed by Dr. Elaine Solowey, is dedicated to the investigation and preservation of arid lands and their natural resources. Working collaboratively with arid land research institutes in Israel and around the world, the Center is a vital player in the field of desert agriculture and sustainable agriculture.
  • The Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation (CREEC), directed by Alex Gusarov, leads the renewable energy research and development initiatives in the southern Arava region. Leveraging the natural desert environment and some of the highest solar radiation levels in the world, CREEC established the Arava Institute Research and Visitors Park to oversee innovative research, commercial solar validation, and biogas projects.
  • The Center for Hyper-Aird Socio-Ecology (CHASE), directed by Dr. Elli Groner, focuses on the natural ecosystem in the Arava valley and the interaction between those ecosystems and the local people.

The Friends of the Arava Institute is a US registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. Its mission is to support the critical environmental and peace-building work of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies through fundraising campaigns, student recruitment, alumni relations, and public education events. Donations to the Arava Institute through the Friends of the Arava Institute are tax deductible.

As a partner to the Israel Ride, the Friends of the Arava Institute functions as the charity of record and processes all donations for the Israel Ride, ensuring appropriate and accurate rider and donor support and recognition. The Friends of the Arava Institute is also the lead partner on supporting rider fundraising efforts, overseeing marketing and communications calendars, and engaging the Israel Ride alumni community.

The Friends of the Arava Institute is supported by a national board of 40 trustees, with over half of those trustees arriving through their Israel Ride experience. A professional staff team, headquartered in Boston, is dedicated to manifesting the values of the Arava Institute in the United States and around the world. Today, the Friends of the Arava Institute is the largest funder to the Arava Institute in Israel, raising over 75% of its annual budget.


Hazon-Pearlstone Merger: Moving Forward Together

“Together we are committed to making Pearlstone, Hazon, and the JOFEE & Jewish retreating movements stronger and more impactful than ever before. Together we will navigate the years ahead, together we will face the climate crisis, and together we will bring joy, inspiration, and love.”

Read the Joint Announcement!

Hazon: The Jewish Lab for Sustainability

We’re in a global climate crisis. Jewish tradition compels us to respond.

We are leading a transformative movement weaving sustainability into the fabric of Jewish life, in order to create a healthier, more sustainable, and more equitable world for all.

We envision vibrant sustainable Jewish communities, enriched by Jewish wisdom, authentic nature connection, and environmental responsibility, working with our partners to create a better world for all.

Core Values

We are genuine, open, and embrace all with loving warmth — celebrating diversity and together working towards equity and justice. Our staff, board, guests, participants, and volunteers embody diversity in national origin, indigeneity, race and ethnicity, religion and spirituality, gender, sexuality, age, marital status, and ability. We share and learn across cultures and experiences, growing together through open dialogue and a shared commitment to justice. We strive to confront our implicit biases, eradicate discrimination, and embody equity in our processes and outcomes — as an organization and as a community.


Deep Personal Connections

We create deep and personal connections that facilitate the interconnectedness of people no matter their background and affiliation.



Environmental Sustainability & Justice

We embody, teach, and inspire the practice of environmental sustainability and justice.



Nature Connection

We help people simplify and focus on the fundamental elements of life, connecting people to nature so that they can understand and value the connection between adam and adamah, people and earth.




Embodying Jewish Values

We renew Jewish life using food and land, story and song, prayer and meditation, text and ritual, shabbat and holidays, and more.



Joyous Experiential Education

We teach through vibrant, joyous, hands-on experiential education using song, growing food, retreats, and more.



Spiritual Experiences

We create an environment and programming that fosters spiritual experiences, cultivating connections between Jewish tradition and the outdoors, food, farming, and ecology.



Excellence & Innovation

As the Jewish Lab for Sustainability, we are committed to excellence in our process and invested in creativity, innovation, and continuous improvement through learning and feedback.


Innovative – Immersive – Transformative

Hazon’s innovative sustainability programs are inspiring this and the next generation of leaders.


Isabella Freedman

Our kosher pluralistic retreat center on 400 acres in the Connecticut Berkshires.



Farming fellowship integrating Jewish learning, social justice, and spirituality.


Hazon Seal of Sustainability

Tools to help green your institution or community and create a sustainability plan.


Jewish Youth Climate Movement

Empowering teens to mobilize communities and take action to mitigate climate change.


Detroit tent

Hazon Detroit

Bringing sustainability to the Metro Detroit Jewish community, and home to our annual Jewish Food Festival.



Experiential learning for youth fostering Jewish, ecological, and sustainability awareness.


Farm & Forest School

Joyful nature connection, spiritual wisdom, and loving community at Pearlstone in Maryland.


Brit Hazon

Become part of the solution to the climate crisis as an individual – we’re here to help.


JNF USA - Logo

Jewish National Fund: Proud to present Team JNF

“It started with a simple ask: ‘Would I like to go for a bike ride in Israel?’ Now, Jewish National Fund-USA and the The Israel Ride are both an integral part of my life.”
—David Eisenberg, Israel Ride Vice-Chair

Jewish National Fund (JNF) is a key marketing partner, establishing a national Team JNF with regional teams across the country.

Join Team JNF, and support their critical work in Israel!

JNF Teams fundraise like all riders Their fundraising goes through JNF, who disburses the funds to the Israel Ride’s beneficiaries.

jnf-logo-mini-icon All JNF riders have a JNF icon next to their name on the rider list, for easy viewing.

Anyone is welcome to join Team JNF. (Upon registering, click Join a Team, and under Please select a Team, choose JNF.)

For more information on JNF & The Israel Ride or on joining Team JNF, contact David Eisenberg or Rachel Kalikow.

We welcome JNF riders from all over the country. For registration questions, please contact info@israelride.org.


Does money I donate to my Israel Ride count towards my personal JNF donation (for various purposes) and would it help reduce any JNF pledge I have made?

  • Money donated to your own Israel Ride (or to support any other rider) counts as a JNF donation, however, it is cannot be applied to any pledges.

Does money others donate to my Israel Ride count towards my personal JNF donation (for various purposes) and would it help reduce any JNF pledge I have made?

  • No. Riders get soft credited (credit for helping to raise those funds for Israel) for donations that others have made to their rides but this amount cannot be counted as your individual donation to JNF.

Does money I donate to other peoples Israel Ride count towards my personal JNF donation ( for various purposes) and would it help reduce any JNF pledge I have made?

  • Money you donate to other people’s Israel Ride counts as your JNF donation and is included in your annual giving, but this donation cannot be applied to pledges made to JNF.

Can I donate to JNF and apply it to my or another Rider’s Israel Ride fundraising?

  • No. Please donate through the Israel Ride website, and if you donate towards a JNF-affiliated rider (for example, someone on a JNF team) we will reroute your contribution through JNF. 

Jewish National Fund

In over 113 years, JNF has evolved into a global environmental leader on battling land degradation and combating desertification, sharing afforestation techniques across the world, funding research on grappling with arid land management, and leading the world in water desalination and purification techniques, helping solve Israel’s water crisis.

JNF has planted over 250 million trees, built over 240 reservoirs and water recycling centers, increasing Israel’s water supply by 10%, developed over 250,000 acres of land, created more than 1,000 parks and recreational areas, built security roads along the border of Lebanon, provided the infrastructure for 2,000 communities, and educates students around the world about Israel and the environment.

Today, JNF continues to restore northern Israel and is putting its century of experience to work with Blueprint Negev, supporting Israel’s newest generation of pioneers in developing the Negev Desert. JNF is helping Israel and other countries care for the Land and protect the earth with cutting edge environmental technologies.

A United Nations NGO, JNF sponsors international conferences on desertification, shares afforestation techniques, and funds research on arid land management. JNF is a registered 501(c) (3) organization and continuously earns top ratings from charity overseers.