April 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Cycle for Unity Unites Participants in “Charity-of-Choice” Model

Rabbi Ari Solomont thinks a bike is the best vehicle for raising money earmarked to benefit good causes. The former Bostonian recently launched Cycle for Unity to revolutionize Jewish activism and philanthropy in a unique “charity of choice” model. He rolled out this initiative to get young adults and professionals energized about connecting to charities, both specifically Jewish and otherwise, through inspirational and challenging cycling adventures.

Solomont says Cycle for Unity is the first-ever non-profit organization utilizing physical fitness and leadership training to promote the culture of Jewish philanthropy. More than 200 riders from Israel, the United States, Holland, the United Kingdom, and Australia have taken part in the first series of rides in Israel. Registration requires a commitment to raise money for charity. Using this model, Solomont says, there is less overhead and a much higher percentage of the funds raised by participants actually go to the charity selected. Currently, over 50 charities, including some of the largest Jewish non-profits in North America and Israel, benefit from the program.

“Bike riding is one of the most popular activities in the world,” said Solomont. “Why not capitalize on its popularity, health benefits, confidence, and the discipline one gains from riding and training to raise funds for charity? Cycle for Unity helps support multiple charities simultaneously and complements all their initiatives. When everyone participates together, people learn about different organizations and all the good and important things they are doing—a cross-pollination that benefits everybody. It’s a win-win-win situation!”

CFU is sponsoring a 10-day deluxe kosher bike tour to Tuscany in May for adults, rides in Israel in April, family rides over Passover and CFU’s flagship “Ride of My Life,” summer European summer cycling adventure for high school students. The Ride of My Life is the ultimate experiential adventure through Prague, Vienna, Budapest, and Israel that combines leadership, athletic challenge, Jewish education, and fun.

“CFU programs aren’t a ‘one-hit wonder.’ When people work hard and challenge themselves for a cause, they become passionate and get others to feel the same way.”

CFU’s unique formula churns out dynamic “doers” who are primed to improve themselves—mind, body and soul—and are genuinely passionate about their Jewish heritage and tikkun olam. Solomont is targeting what he calls “kinesthetic Jews,” who actively seek self-improvement and expression through a combination of physical challenges, community service, advocacy, and philanthropy.

Solomont is a former nursing home administrator, regional executive director for the Orthodox Union’s NCSY youth movement, and most recently, the director of Yeshiva University’s Israel program. Cycle for Unity, he says, seeks to cultivate an international network of youth and professionals who are excited about personal growth and communal development.

“Cycle for Unity is not an ideology, but a hope and a dream to have something that really reflects what our community is while benefiting everybody,” said Solomont. “There is so much that divides us, so if we can find something that unites us, it will truly embody the name Cycle for Unity.”

By Lisa Matkowsky

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