Saul Pilchen is a donor to the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (AIES) and a two-time Israel Rider. He and his family recently chose to memorialize his parents with a gift to the Arava Institute for the Biblical & Ancient Date Grove Visitors Center and Greenhouse. During the 2019 Israel Ride, the dedication was held at the Arava Institute.
My Dad passed away in 2015, and my Mom died in 2018. I decided to support the AIES Visitor Center and greenhouse, featuring Dr. Elaine Solowey’s work, to honor my parents as my folks were strong Israel boosters, lifelong learners, and cared deeply about efforts to bridge cultures in the region as a path to peace. In years past, I shared AIES stories with my parents as I became more involved and knowledgeable; they thought AIES’s work was very cool, particularly the cross-border/cultural efforts. They also thought that the Israel Ride was really cool, given my passion for road cycling.
All of this came together in a beautiful fashion this past November, during the Israel Ride (my second), when we arrived at Kibbutz Ketura in time for the dedication of the new Visitor Center–featuring the contribution of the Pilchen family in honor of Bernard and Erna Pilchen, z”l. The remarks by David Lehrer and Dr. Solowey to the cyclists and others present, regarding the mission of the Institute and the outstanding science (including Methuselah and his new friends!) done by Dr. Solowey, were so moving, and to see my parents’ names on the building with the mountains in the background brought me to tears. I’m so blessed to have been present at the Kibbutz at that time, and to have had an active hand in the development of the AIES campus.