Adar met Lisa on the Israel National Trail (INT), in Hebrew “Shvil Yisrael.” The National Geographic calls it “one of the world’s best trails…a place of peace and friendship…a holy grail,” something that is very hard to achieve. The trail is 680 miles long and crosses the State of Israel from North to South.
Adar Lando, from Beersheba, was not a hiking enthusiast. “My brother didn’t think I’d last a day on the trail,” smiles Adar. “But at the age of 28, after army service and a stint at working on an organic farm, I decided to take up the challenge of the INT.”
Lisa Toledano, from Ra’anana, then 21 and after her army service, wasn’t a serious hiker either. She adds: “But I love nature. You’re at your worst and best on the trail. On the one hand, you don’t shower much and can look pretty disgusting. On the other hand you are free and open. It’s a great way to meet people.” According to the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI), “tens of thousands of people hike the Israel Trail every year.”
Both Lisa and Adar started the trail in March 2016 in the southern city of Eilat. Adar was with his walking partner and Lisa was walking with her friend, Noa. They started a week apart and reached the same point after about six weeks. “You take breaks along the way,” explains Adar. “And you resume at the point where you left off.”
When Lisa and Noa reached Mount Tabor, Noa went to stay with friends at Lake Kinneret for Shabbat. As destiny would have it, Adar was at the Kinneret at the same time and a mutual friend introduced Adar to Noa. Noa then invited Adar to join her and Lisa on the hiking trail.
On Sunday morning, May 8, 2016, Adar met Lisa. “It’s not that we became best friends at first,” recalls Adar. “I actually thought she seemed a bit snobby. But as the three of us continued to walk – me, Noa and Lisa – I got closer to Lisa. She was very interesting and a lot of fun.”
Less than two weeks later, Noa left the twosome for three days. Lisa and Adar were on their own at Ramat Naftali, a moshav near the Lebanese border. Like all hikers, Lisa and Adar are appreciative of the “trail angels,” people who live close to the INT and open their homes to the hikers free of charge.
“That was the weekend when we clicked,” smiles Lisa. “There were just three days before the end of the trip, and neither of us wanted to finish the trail. We walked more slowly.”
In a “shipboard romance,” a relationship ends when the trip ends and the couple goes back to “real life.” Adar notes: “In our ‘real lives’, both Lisa and I were in transition, were open to exploring new possibilities, and had the time for a commuter relationship. Eventually Lisa started Hebrew University to study psychology and business administration, and I followed her to Jerusalem.” Currently Adar is a student in the School of Social Work at Hebrew University.
In March 2018, they went on a “proposal trip” where they proposed to each other. When Lisa was asked if she would have agreed to be fixed up with Adar before the INT, she responded: “I probably would have said he’s too old for me. But on the trail, I didn’t notice age and didn’t think to ask until there was already an attraction.”
Lisa and Adar plan to wed on August 29 in Abu Ghosh, Israel. Mazal tov.
Dr. Leah Hakimian currently researches the question: How Jewish couples meet and marry. In the 90’s she founded two nonprofit Jewish matchmaking programs, and continues to champion the role of community in helping singles meet. She resides in Jerusalem and Great Neck, New York.