The 16th annual "Israel Ride" bike journey took off near Beitar Ilit on Wednesday at 7:45 a.m.About 200 Jewish riders from around the world came to Israel to take part in the fundraising event, meant to raise money for peace, sustainability and environmentalism in the Middle East.The 5-day bike journey will take the riders all through the south of Israel, from the area surrounding the Gaza border, through the Negev desert and the Ramon Crater, ending in Eilat, near the Red Sea. The journey has different routing options for both recreational riders and experienced cyclists, and is open to participants of all ages.This year, the organization is attempting to beat their current donation record, setting a goal of raising at least $5 million for charity organizations Hazon and The Arava Institute. The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies is the premier environmental teaching and research program in the Middle East, preparing future Arab and Jewish leaders to cooperatively solve the region’s environmental challenges. Through its activities, the Arava Institute encourages, fosters, and supports the advancement of environmental cooperation between Israel and its neighbors. Hazon works to create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community and healthier and more sustainable world for all. Through a series of retreats, food educational programs, and a growing network of like-minded organizations, Hazon provides transformative experiences and innovated educational programming within the Jewish community.