New T.A.-Jerusalem Bicycle Trail Dedicated by Joe Lebovic

"Joe and Wolf Lebovic came to Canada as young boys after the Holocaust, where they started to build a new life in Toronto. The Lebovic family has always been devoted to Israel, for which we are more than grateful.

By KKL-JNF
June 7, 2010 12:48
KKL

KKL. (photo credit: KKL)

 
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"With the inauguration of the Joe and Wolf Lebovic Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Bicycle Trail, Joe and Wolf have now joined the very exclusive club of people who have roads to Jerusalem named for them." KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler was speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the new Tel Aviv-Jerusalem bike path, which took place on Friday, June 6. "I would like to thank Joe and his brother Wolf on behalf of JNF Canada, KKL-JNF Israel and the state of Israel. President Shimon Peres had originally planned to be here with us today, but due to current events, he was unable to attend. He asked me to convey his blessings to you, along with an invitation to visit him at his residence in Jerusalem at your first convenience.

"Joe and Wolf Lebovic came to Canada as young boys after the Holocaust, where they started to build a new life in Toronto. The Lebovic family has always been devoted to Israel, for which we are more than grateful. There are many people who like Israel, but very few are as dedicated to its future as you are.

"Joe said that he wanted to do something that would bring people to Jerusalem. The Joe and Wolf Leibovic bike path accomplishes exactly that goal. The trail goes from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, passing through forests planted by KKL-JNF. We will be developing sites along the way, including a site that will tell the Lebovic family story." 
Joe Lebovic was noticeably moved: "Three years ago, I was the honoree at the KKL-JNF Toronto Dinner. After I announced my contribution, the head of JNF Canada came up to me and said that if I increase the amount, it would be the largest contribution ever made by an honoree. So I did, and I am very pleased that one of the projects that my contribution helped finance is this bicycle trail.

"Please don’t thank me and my brother Wolf, it really is our pleasure. In fact, it's one of our best investments, as good as our own company. Thank you for letting us participate in this. It's a privilege to make life better for the people living in the land of Israel. If it's good for you here, it's good for us who live abroad."

Andy Michelson, KKL-JNF Master of Ceremony, surprised Joe Lebovic when he asked him to don a biking shirt especially prepared by KKL-JNF in honor of the occasion: "Joe and Wolf Lebovic are very committed to Israel and the Jewish people. They have supported a number of KKL-JNF projects and other initiatives for the benefit of communities in Israel and Canada. Their names are embossed on the shirts, and we also have water bottles for all the bikers here today."  

The new biking path passes through the city of Shoham, as noted by Gil Livneh, head of the Shoham Regional Council: "The Shoham Forest Park is a heaven for bike riders, but until now, it was a very well kept secret. However, with the inauguration of this trail, it's not going to be a secret any longer, and we're very happy about that. The park and forest are beautiful, and there are archaeological remains for people to see and appreciate. The new bike trail will be an integral part of the park.

"In a way, the town of Shoham is symbolic of Israel. It is young and strong, and it has roots in the past. Our local council promotes environmental values and we cooperate with KKL-JNF towards realizing them. I especially want to thank Joe Lebovic and all the good people at KKL-JNF for this project, which will serve as a catalyst for the entire region."



Everyone applauded as Joe Lebovic cut the ribbon and inaugurated the new bike trail, and the first group of bike riders was on its way. They included members of the  "Yes and No" group from the Israeli Guide Dog Center for the Blind, where two people, one with regular vision and one visually impaired, ride tandem bikes; the Israel Police Bicycling Unit; and the Women's Bikers Club from Shoham.

Tzigi, a policeman from the Israeli Police Bicycling Unit, said that for the policemen, bicycling wasn't just a hobby: "We ride in the Modi'in region twice a week on KKL-JNF bicycle paths through the forests, and when we do so, we are on duty. Bicycles allow us to get around traffic in the cities, and we also patrol the forests and open spaces to ensure that they are safe for the Israeli public."

Gidi Bashan, KKL-JNF Judean Mountains Forest and Community Coordinator, a seasoned bike rider himself, said that he had received hundreds of calls about the trail over the past week: "As soon as the trail was publicized in the media, people started calling up asking for details. There's something about biking from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem that tickles the public fancy. This trail is going to be very popular."

Gilad Mastai, head of KKL-JNF's Costal Region: "The bike trail will serve as a catalyst for all the towns and villages of the region, connecting them through the forests and open spaces. We are in the midst of creating 60 kilometers of bike trails in Ben Shemen Forest, which is a national bicycling center. There are thousands of bikers here every weekend, and the forest will now be an integral part of the new trail."

The new Tel Aviv –Jerusalem bike path is about 125 kilometers long, all of which are challenging and fun.  The path passes through scenery including a flowing river, KKL-JNF forests, natural fields and groves. For the sake of convenience, the path is divided into four segments.  KKL-JNF has also produced a pamphlet with an aerial view that specifies the route of the path and explains about the sites along the way.

Happy biking!

For Articles, comments or use please contact
 Ahuva Bar-Lev
KKL-JNF – Information and Publications
Email: ahuvab@kkl.org.il
 Phone: 972-2-6583354 Fax:972-2-6583493

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