In Joshua's Shoes: Ride for Reform

Training Ride (Photo by Sharon Graetz)

In what little free time I have in Jerusalem this year, I’ve been trying to spend as much of it as possible on the seat of a bicycle. I really enjoy biking, especially in a bike friendly place like Minneapolis, but here I’m biking for a reason. It’s not just to get into better shape, nor is it because I love that feeling as I reach the peak of a hill. This time, I’m training.

Riding near the Old City (Photo by Dusty Klass)

On March 6th I am joining around 30 other cyclists in Modi’in at the Reform Congregation, Kehilat Yozma to embark on a five day ride that ends at the desert fortress Masada near the Dead Sea. I’m not anticipating too much difficulty with the 45-60 Kilometers each day. What I’m worried about is the fact that I haven’t done any off-road or trail riding in years (in Minneapolis I usually stick to the roads or the well groomed trails towards the western suburbs).
The good news is that I’m not the only HUC student taking this trip. There are nine of us registered for the ride and we are all really excited (you’re welcome to check out our information here). We’ve been out on a few training rides together and I’m glad to know that we have a good group of us going. It’s been a lot of fun so far, and I think it can only get better.
The ride is not called “Ride for Reform” just for kicks.
We aren’t only raising awareness for the Reform Movement in Israel. As a requirement for participation in the ride, we must raise funds that are donated to the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ). I mentioned them in my last post about the Debbie Friedman Tribute Concert.
The IMPJ is an umbrella organization in Israel that has many different roles. Similar to the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) in the States, they provide support and resources for Reform Congregations here.
It can be crucial at times for these communities to receive support, because they do not have the same standing as more traditional communities and synagogues do in Israel.

Taking a break near the Security Barrier (Photo by Dusty Klass)

The IMPJ helps fund the Progressive Youth Movement, Noar Telem which gives kids between 3rd and 12th grade opportunities to be involved in social action opportunities, community building and Jewish Education after school. Noar Telem also has a summer camp, Camp Havayah, that brings hundreds of Israeli kids together for the summer. When participants cannot afford the fees for the camp, the IMPJ has scholarships available to help with the cost.
One of the things that I’ve come to understand being in Israel this year is that the Reform/Liberal/Progressive Judaism has a hard time here, and I’m really fired up for this ride and to be doing a small part to help improve the situation for the IMPJ.
If you would like to support me on my ride, or simply follow along with the training and the ride itself there are a few ways to do that. You can see pictures and follow me either on my personal blog or on my facebook page. If you are able to make a donation, you can do so on the Ride4Reform Donations Page (you can donate to me specifically by putting my name in the “rider” field or you can donate to the ride in general).
Any support, moral or financial, is greatly appreciated. I am really excited to have the chance to raise funds and awareness for the Reform Movement in Israel and the IMPJ, especially from the seat of my bike!

Riding through the rain (photo by Dusty Klass)

Catch you further along the trail.
Shalom from Jerusalem