There’s rarely snow in Israel. But if an outdoorsman from the West Bank settlement of Efrat gets his wish, he will become the first of his countrymen to participate in a polar sledding competition, traveling hundreds of miles between Norway and Sweden next April.
“I’ve always had a penchant for adventure and crazy ideas,” Erik Claster told the Times of Israel, explaining the rationale behind his desires. “I moved to Israel because I figured that growing up as a Jewish person, I had to give Israel a try, at least,” the Midwest native told the newspaper. “Has it ever been easier in the course of our 3,000 years to live here? And it’s the ultimate adventure.”
In order to get on the Arctic race, all expenses paid by the Swedish athletics company Fjällräven, Claster will have to garner at least 30,000 votes in an online competition, a goal that he thinks he can meet on the strength of his Jewish and Israeli connections.
Claster told the Times of Israel that he has an adventurous spirit, regaling the newspaper with tales of hiking around Africa and rebuilding vintage motorcycles. He thinks that his participation — and hopeful victory — in the sledding competition will help Israel.
“It’s an amazing feat,” he said. “An Israeli going to do dogsled competition and we will have won out over every other country in the world? We’re known for a lot of things, but most people I’ll be in contact with will know nothing about Israel. It will be great PR for Israel.”
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Daniel J. Solomon is the Assistant to the Editor/News Writer at the Forward. Originally from Queens, he attended Harvard as an undergraduate, where he wrote his senior thesis on French-Jewish intellectual history. He is excited to have returned to New York after his time in Massachusetts. Daniel’s passions include folk music, cycling, and pointed argument.