(PHOTOS IN EXTENDED ARTICLE)
To spread the light of Chanukah and the word of the life-saving activities done by United Hatzalah and their volunteers, a group of 11 extreme bicycle riders will be crossing Israel on a 24-hour marathon bicycle ride from Metula to Eilat on the second night and day of Chanukah.
The ride, which begins Wednesday with candle lighting in Metula and will end with candle lighting in Eilat on Thursday, is one of the most extreme rides that can be done in Israel. The team of experienced athletes is undertaking this feat in order to help spread the word of United Hatzalah’s life-saving activities that have decreased the emergency medical services (EMS) response time to a national average of under three minutes.
Embarking on a marathon ride of more than 500 kilometers, which they are aiming to complete in less than 24 hours, the team is hoping to use the trip as a fundraiser to raise half a million shekel for United Hatzalah.
Mordechai Pekar (56), is an extreme athlete and the organizer of the riding group. He is not one to turn down a challenge. “When I was asked by United Hatzalah to help put this project together, I thought what better way to support a cause that brings light to the entire country than by riding across it in an effort to help save lives of people all over Israel. The concept of United Hatzalah is such an ingenious and seemingly simple concept and the volunteers of the organization execute it to near-perfection. This is an organization that deserves my help, my time and every bit of financial and moral support it can get! I hope that with this ultra-long ride that I’m helping them in their grand scheme of saving lives across the country.”
Pekar was born in Leningrad and spent time studying in Amsterdam before getting an MBA at the University of Pittsburgh in the US. In addition to being an extreme athlete he is a rabbi, having received his ordination from Yeshivas Tomchei Tmimim in Israel. Pekar immigrated to Israel 20 years ago and currently lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh. When he isn’t performing extreme feats of physical prowess, Pekar works as an investment adviser. On this ride, he is taking his son Eliezer along with him. What is even more exceptional about Pekar is that he survived a bout with cancer two-years-ago and he got right back up and kept on participating in endurance rides, ultra-marathons and Ironman triathlons.
Pekar is leading a team of 11 experienced riders who will make the 500 plus km journey from Israel’s northern border to its southern tip. Other riders include Asaf Cohen, Lior Cohen, Yuval Shalfman, Gavriel Baruch, Boaz Kenig, Daniel Shore, Eliezer Pekar, Amir Bachar, Eyal Perel and Adir Cohen.
Eyal Pearl, another endurance rider encouraged people to support the cause of the ride and help the riders achieve their goal. “I have been riding for several years now, but this is the first time I am riding with a purpose,” said Pearl. “I have never been so determined to succeed before. I feel so privileged to be able to ride for such a worthy cause that will make a difference every single day in Israel. I encourage anyone and everyone who reads this or hears about the trip to sponsor us for this Chanukah bike marathon. We are doing our part, but we need your help to achieve our goal of supporting United Hatzalah. Please give what you can.”
Photos: Mordechai Pekar and other riders on in the middle of an endurance ride in Israel – Credit: Courtesy Mordechai Pekar and United Hatzalah
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)