Hand cyclist to take on London for Israel

Lerona Goldberg will be raising money for the moshav where her family lives, much of which was destroyed on October 7


Lerona Goldberg with her cousins on moshav Netiv Ha'asara

A London woman will be hand-cycling 100 miles across London to help her family members in Israel after they were displaced from their village and their livelihood was destroyed in the October 7 massacre.

Lerona Goldberg, 41, has been wheelchair-bound since suffering a spinal cord injury in a car crash when she was five years old.

Her journey will begin at Tower Bridge and do a large loop through Essex before arriving back at her starting point as part of the Ride London event on 26 May.

Lerona is no stranger to raising money for charity, having previously made the journey from London to Amsterdam in her wheelchair to raise £50,000 for Aspire, a spinal injury charity. In normal times, she would be excited about training for such Herculean efforts in the gym and by spreading the word as much as she can, but this time, she says, it “feels very different”.

She told the JC: “This one has a different tone and feels like the hardest sell. Unless you’re Jewish, no one is interested. I’m more nervous about sending messages out in case I get abuse back, despite it not being political.“It’s just about human lives.”

She hopes to raise £5,000 for Netiv Ha’asara, the moshav near the Gaza border, which was home to her aunt and uncle, Chedva and Moshe Gez.

On October 7, Hamas terrorists murdered 20 members of their community and demolished and burned the community’s entire agricultural industry, their primary source of income.

Quick thinking by Lerona’s cousin, Sinai, who happened to be over from Germany and staying with them, likely saved their lives by getting them into their shelter shortly after 6.30am. There they stayed for 15 hours until, finally, when all was quiet, they made their escape. They saw that the moshav’s security guards at the main gate were all lying dead already, and so they left through a back exit and drove north, ending up in Jerusalem, where they remain.

The rest of the survivors of the village also fled and have been unable to return due to the IDF erecting a temporary base on the site.

But even if they could return, “everyone is too traumatised to go back to how things were for now, at least until they know exactly what will happen in Gaza and who will come to control it”, Lerona said.

As well as losing their agricultural livelihood, a property Chedva and Moshe rented out to guests was burned down, and much of their home was destroyed, including all of their belongings.

“Many members of the community were peace activists,” Lerona said, “and despite being accustomed to flare-ups living so close [to the border], this time it was different and on such a different scale. “Their lives were just ripped to shreds.”

Lerona will be joined in her effort by her brother Sivan, a keen cyclist, and her husband Nick, a novice.

You can help Lerona reach her fundraising goal here.

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