Members of Chai Riders, the Jewish motorcycle club, braved reports of snow and freezing temperatures to meet in Teaneck last week. Members are from throughout the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area with a heavy concentration in Bergen County.
Chai Riders, in its 15th year, promotes fellowship, and Jewish culture and heritage amongst its members. The club is one of the prime segments of the annual Salute to Israel parade in New York City. Traditionally Chai Riders invites other Jewish motorcycle groups to join in and ride along with them, making an impressive showing on Fifth Avenue.
The club also makes an annual pilgrimage to Camp HASC, the orthodox venue for special needs children. At the camp some 30 motorcycles ride in, creating excitement for the campers. Once the motorcycles have cooled, the campers are permitted to sit on any bike they choose, pretending to be racing down the highway.
Young women are not forgotten either. Lauren Secular, Chai Riders treasurer, leads an annual ride to Camp Simcah in Glen Spey, NY. She is always looking for women riders to participate as male and female cannot be together on the motorcycle.
Chai Rider also participates in the Ride to Remember (R2R), the annual gathering of Jewish motorcyclists from around the country. The participating clubs contribute a substantial sum of money to Holocaust programs in the destination city. To date the ride has raised tens of thousands of dollars for such programs. The R2R is under the auspices of the Jewish Motorcycle Alliance (JMA), the central organization for most Jewish clubs.
Scott Wynn, past Chai Riders president, was one of the organizers of the JMA and the R2R, which will be held in June in Nashville, TN this year. While most rides are conducted during warm weather, some of the members are reluctant to winterize their motorcycles and ride throughout the year, some putting more than 30,000 miles annually on their odometers.
Weekend rides are held regularly and accommodate riders of all abilities. Friends are always invited to join the club members. The first ride of the season is traditionally out of Fair Lawn, starting in the parking lot of Beth Sholom. Funds raised from the ride are donated to the shul and other religious institutions.
Meetings are held throughout the Metropolitan area with several in Bergen County each year. The March dinner meeting will be on March 11 at the Grill Point Restaurant in Queens. While virtually all dinner meetings are held in certified kosher restaurants, the one exception is an annual visit to Katz’s on the Lower East Side. This year’s meeting there will be on March 22 and will be followed by a visit to the Tenement Museum in Manhattan.
Anyone interested in joining or just learning more about Chai Riders can check out the club’s web site at http://www.chairiders.org.
By Bob Nesoff