On May 15, 2022 I had a dream realized, but that is not the story. Imagine growing up with a father who worked hard all of his life (as most parents do), and never feeling that you had a special moment—one that would be emblazoned in your mind for eternity.
On this day Chai Riders had their first ride for 2022. It was a beautiful sunny day and my father (known as “the Rabbi”) and I decided to ride together on our new motorcycles, together for the very first time. You see, my father has been riding for many years and I am a newbie to this strange and wonderful world.
Both of us rode trikes for different reasons, and both of us were riding completely different trikes, mine a Harley and my father a Can-Am. Those of you who ride know the difference.
The motorcycles told the story of our lives: both of us riding, but completely different. My father is a wonderful man, retired camp director, rabbi, friend and certainly a giant in his time. (He is 6’5.”) He is also what I like to call a pacifist. Me, on the other hand, I like to rock the boat a bit; I am a sports fan; I was not ordained as a rabbi until recently; and certainly do not hold the stature that my father holds. I am a businessman who started doing insurance at the age of 21, and continue to do so today. I have always been known as Rabbi Himber’s son or Ben and Shirley’s grandson. It was and continues to be a wonderful hashtag I wear. Most people grow up and hope they do not turn into their parents. Me, on the other hand, I hope and pray I can become 1/1000 of what both my parents have become and continue to strive for.
On this perfect day I offered to ride with my dad in the back of our group as both of us are not speed demons. My father chose to ride in the middle of our group and I was the last in our group. It was a little bit of a bummer for me as I was hoping we would ride side by side as father and son. Then I realized what a wonderful opportunity I had. I was able to watch my dad ride in all of his glory with his friends, his long white ponytail flowing out of the back of his helmet as he wound around every turn being led by a third rabbi in our group. Who knew rabbis rode motorcycles?
As the ride continued, in true Himber fashion we got separated from the main group and got lost. You see, Himbers have a challenging time with directions. My grandfather found Teterboro Airport many years ago on a trip. That’s another story. We found our way back to the group and finished our ride. However, during the last stretch almost everyone opened the throttle at the end of the ride, except my father and me. We found ourselves both at the very end of the pack riding side by side, just like I had always dreamed.
As we pulled in for the last stop, there was a delicious barbecue for all the riders. I pulled in behind my father and was reminded of a saying of his that applies both to riding a motorcycle as well as life: “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the ride with all its twists and turns. Enjoy the ride!” I now know what that means to me. Although my dad and I have lived very different lives and continue to do so, we have found commonality. Two rabbis who are father and son, on different paths but enjoying the ride of a lifetime, with all of its twists and turns.
Dad, on this Father’s Day I wanted to thank you for teaching me to just enjoy the ride, wind ripping through our helmets, engines roaring, and yet very peaceful. Although I don’t always understand how our relationship has evolved into this wonderful time, I am grateful it is so special.
I hope and pray we will have many more rides together. Knowing that, I said goodbye to my father and watched him pull out of the parking lot on his bike and wondered: Would this be our last ride together? Then I realized it doesn’t matter, as long as we both enjoy the ride of a lifetime!
Rabbi Himber Sr. is currently residing in Seagate, New York and continues to ride with the Chai Riders. Rabbi Robert Himber Jr. currently resides in Highland Park with his two girls. Rabbi Himber Jr. is currently working on a book to help both adults as well as children deal with the many challenges of divorce, from both an adolescent and an adult perspective. He is currently the CEO of H&S Sales and consultants.