Not only were did they ably cycle the challenging race, they also had an opportunity to experience Cape Town and Johannesburg and the Jewish Communities in those cities.
The three cyclists were chosen not only for their cycling abilities but as representatives of the multi-faceted cultural and religious landscape of the Beit Shemesh-Mateh Yehuda region.
Moshe Lichtenstein is Ultra-Orthodox and in his 50s, married with eight children, he made Aliyah from the United States. Shlomit Simantov is a physiotherapist living on Moshav Aviezer and is National Religious, she is in her 30s, married with three children and competes in triathlons. She is pregnant with her fourth child. Amir Alfie is secular, in his mid-twenties, studying industrial design and works as a personal trainer.
They could not be more diverse yet their shared love of cycling and the region in which they live in Israel create massive commonalities for these Israelis. They were excited to share their life experience of the Beit Shemesh-Mateh Yehuda region with the Cape Town and Johannesburg Jewish Communities, showing the rich existence in the region and the everyday co-existence of varied groups. Their mutual love of Israel, their fellow Jews and newfound passion for South Africa more than bridged any superficial differences they may have.
While in Cape Town the delegation not only participated in the Cycle Tour but enjoyed kind Cape Town hospitality and appreciated the numerous and varied warm Shabbat experiences available in the city. They also were able to get a better sense of the city, its beauty and attractions before even mounting their bicycles for the race.
The delegates visited various schools. This included holding activities in Herzlia Weizmann and Herzlia Constantia. They addressed pupils at Herzlia Middle School and Cape Town Torah High. They also visited the University of Cape Town and engaged with students at the Abrahamic Tent during Israel Apartheid Week.
While in Johannesburg the trio visited King David Linksfield Senior Primary, King David Sandton and King David Linksfield High School where they spoke to learners about their love of cycling and the region they live in. They met with one of the twinning classes and cycled with a group of high school students and their School Headmaster, on a muddy and wet mountain bike course.
A highlight of their Johannesburg experience was a visit to the Lion Park where they were able to play with lion cubs and feed a giraffe from their hands. They also visited Soweto and were thrilled with the many different and delicious kosher restaurants Johannesburg has on offer.
The insight into the experience of Zionists in the diaspora and specifically Cape Town and Johannesburg was eye-opening to the delegation and gave them a much more comprehensive grasp of the situation here and the perception of Israel.
The Cape Argus Cycle Tour 2014 delegation was an exemplary illustration of the person-to-person relationship building and facilitation of deeper and personal Israel-Diaspora understanding, the very underpinning of Partnership2Gether.