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.
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
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 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!
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 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.
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.
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.
Friends of the Arava Institute
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.
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!
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.
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.