(Aboriginal men in Australia mark manhood by going on a long distance trek. Israelis too, are on a “walkabout,” but for love and the environment.)
Although a lot of people are getting into the act for environmental awareness in Israel. An organization that calls itself Walk About Love has decided to go about this in a most unusual way, by doing a “walkabout” of the entire length of Israel, from the southernmost city of Eilat to the foothills of Mr. Hermon in the north (about 1,000 kilometers).
The name of their organization is derived from the Australian term which means to go on a long distance trek, and comes from a walk that young Aborigines go on as part of their initiation into Manhood.
I caught up with the group who were spending the weekend at a beach resort called Bamboo Village, on Netanya’s southern beachfront. A young participant named Avigail said that the group has been involved in a number of environmental related projects since the beginning of the trek on March 1.
The group had set up camp on the Netanya’s Green Beach beachfront and were involved in activities that included Yoga and other health related events, plus a disco tent for partying later that evening. Avigail directed me to another person, Sheri Sidot-Amir, who is one of the organizers of the project.
Sheri, age 40, and a mother, lives in Hod HaSharon, and has worked in occupations such as Graphic Art Design, Marketing, and Education. She became interested in doing something to help further ecology and environmental awareness in Israel and abroad, as well as improving cultural relations between peoples.
Sheri said that activities the project has been involved in up to now have included:
1. Sharing environmental and cultural ideas with similar groups outside of Israel, including Columbia.
2. Interacting with Black Hebrews living in Mitzpeh Ramon
3. Working in an agriculture project in Modiin and with a group of Palestinians at the All Nations Café at the Beitar checkpoint in East Jerusalem
4. In Jerusalem’s Old City, they participated in a musical jam festival with young Arab youths and in a cross religion and cultural event ( with a Rabbi, Protestant minister, and priests) at a Franciscan Church
5. Various community service clean up projects, including helping to clean up the Dead Sea area following a recent Dead Sea Festival “each one of us filled up at least one large garbage sack – and that after the area had been formally cleaned up by area workers!” Sheri said.
Group members have worked in a number of service projects to earn money to continue the journey (including the one at the Dead Sea) and have received assistance from both governmental and private sources, including the Ministry of Tourism, the Jewish National Fund and the Nature Reserves Authority.
Walk About Love video during the day:
Following their stay in Netanya, the group will be going to Hadera, Caesarea, then up north to Kibbutz Ziporit, and eventually to the end of their journey at Kibbutz Dan in northern Hula Valley.
“We cover between 15 and 20 kilometers a day when on the road,” she added.
“We have been working on various ecology projects and also conduct workshops to train people to head future environmental projects” she said.
At least 50% of the participants have been tourists, who have participated on a “come and go basis” while going on private tours around Israel. “One of them, a guy named Michael from California, was with us almost the entire time up to now.”
Many of the tourists are non-Jewish and just wanted to be involved with the project.
Sheri hopes that there will be other such events after this one is completed at the end of May. “It’s too early to tell now, as much work has had to be done to get this project going successfully,” she said.