April 17, 2024
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April 17, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Have you ever wondered what you get if you gather Jewish motorcycle riders from across North America for a long weekend? You would have the annual Jewish Motorcycle Alliance of America Ride 2 Remember event. This past weekend over 300 Jews gathered in Providence, Rhode Island for the 13th annual get-together. What began as a few local Jewish riding clubs getting together for a meet and greet has morphed into an international group including 36 local clubs. While the majority of the clubs are from the USA, there are also member clubs in Canada, Israel, Australia, South Africa and the UK. The purpose of the JMA and its member clubs is to unite Jews of any background who have a passion for motorcycles and riding, and the drive to give back to the community. This is evident at the local level where groups participate in a variety of charitable and community events, as well as the annual JMA Ride 2 Remember (R2R) Holocaust memorial event. The R2R moves location each year and is designed around a local Holocaust foundation/museum dedicated to the remembrance of the Shoah. The event raises significant funds for this. The staff that puts this together are all volunteers.

This year’s R2R took place in Providence, Rhode Island, at the Sandra Bornstein Holocaust Education Center, chosen by the local riding club. We met on Friday morning for a club breakfast. While the JMA is a Jewish organization, it is not a religious one. That being said, there was a Glatt Kosher option throughout the entire weekend, and Shabbat services were provided by Rabbi Yossi Laufer of the Warwick, Rhode Island, Chabad. After breakfast was the main event—the R2R ride. The 175 motorcycles were escorted by the Providence Police, in coordination with various local municipalities, on a 51-mile ride around Providence. The Police did an outstanding job of keeping us all moving and accident free by blocking all intersections and holding traffic until the group passed. This was the first ride of this size that I had been on. I cannot explain to you the Jewish Pride I felt coming over a small rise that overlooked a causeway that ran across the top of a large dam. There was a large lake on the left created by the dam, and a beautifully verdant New England mountain scene on the left.

Stretching out in front of me for over a mile were Jews on motorcycles. There were Jews of all stripes and labels. Black, white, brown. Reform, Conservative, Orthodox and everything else in between. I thought of what a great country we live in and what an amazing people we are, especially when we can put our differences aside and focus on what is truly important—unity, and making this world a better place.

The ride finished at the Sandra Bornstein center, where an all-kosher lunch catered by the JCC greeted us. We were addressed by a few local politicians including the mayor of Providence, and then the senior police motorcycle sergeant got up in the middle of the floor to share a few words with us. He started speaking about how long he had been with the police force. He then got emotional when he told us that this was the most meaningful escorted ride he had ever done, and that we treated the police with such respect and admiration that their whole unit was deeply moved. The crowd rose for a three-minute standing ovation of the police that left them in tears. What an impression 300 Jewish bikers left on those police—that Jews were bikers and treated them with the utmost of respect.

So, why do I ride? Why do I belong to two local clubs, the Chai Riders of New York and The Hillels Angels of New Jersey? Those who know me know that this is not a middle-age crisis. If it were, then I have been going through crises all my life. This is who I am. I ride because it puts me in touch with the world. I feel, see, hear and sense the world differently. The world becomes present in the here and now, and not just in the generalized abstract. I also love the feeling of riding, of the perfect balance between a rider and his machine in a curve. A thing of beauty to anyone who has been on a motorcycle. As a Jewish rider, I strive to change people’s outlook of those who ride motorcycles. We also try to make the world a better place. We participate. The people I ride with are not a bunch of wild animals. We love our bikes, we love our world and we love our people. Am Yisroel Chai.

Asher Goldstein lives in Teaneck with his wife, Sema, and their five children. If you are interested in contacting him please feel free to email him at [email protected]. All of the entities mentioned in this article have websites that can be accessed and emailed for additional information.

 By Asher Goldstein

 

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