There are motorcyclists who are Jewish? They don’t exactly fit the traditional bad-boy images of outlaws with tattoos who belong to a gang. But these are not your typical motorcyclists. They’re Jewish. They provide security, raise money for nonprofits, and try to improve Holocaust education and remembrance.
Sabra Riders of Atlanta is one of more than 46 clubs throughout the U.S., Canada, Australia and Israel that belong to the Jewish Motorcyclists Alliance (JMA) for Jewish motorcycle clubs worldwide.
People who belong to these clubs share a passion to ride motorcycles, whatever the brand, and the bond of faith and heritage. “It’s all about camaraderie,” said Kenny Gordon, spokesman for the Atlanta club. The group began in 2000 with six riders and has grown to more than 50 members, male and female, representing a range of ages and professions.
What draws them to this avocation is the feeling of freedom it engenders, Gordon said. “Riding on a motorcycle leads to a sense of relaxation, mastery of one’s skills and experiencing the environment like no other feeling, a total vacation for the mind.”
The Atlanta Sabra Riders usually meet Sunday mornings for breakfast at the Marietta Diner and then ride for half the day or more in the scenic, winding roads of North Georgia, North Carolina or Tennessee. “Meet and Greet” regional gatherings are held to encourage fellowship with neighboring clubs.
But it’s not all about the bond of cycling. The Sabra Riders have a higher calling to help others in the Jewish and nonprofit world.
They support the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation Ride for Kids and the American Diabetes Association Ride to Live. They also participate in the Toco Hills Purim Parade sponsored by Beth Jacob Synagogue, deliver mishloach manot gifts for Purim for Ahavath Achim Synagogue, and provide traffic control and security for Yom Hashoah observances at Greenwood Cemetery.
One of their big missions is Holocaust education and remembrance. They assemble each year for a Ride to Remember (R2R) to raise money for awareness, Holocaust museums and similar causes.
R2R is held every year in a different city, chosen based on its Holocaust project and need for money. In June, more than 300 Jewish bikers from around the world converged on Cleveland, Ohio, to help the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage. More than $60,000 was donated to The Memory Project Productions for survivors’ testimonies. A Cleveland Holocaust survivor was flown to Los Angeles to work with Steven Spielberg and the USC Shoah Foundation to film a state-of-the-art 3-D holographic film based on recorded questions and answers.
The host club, the Shul Boys of Cleveland, arranged a two-hour ride with police escort highlighting Cleveland’s sights and culture with weekend riding events, speakers and a private outing at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
In addition to Sabra Riders, clubs attending included the Lost Tribe of Virginia Beach; the Lonsmon of Boston; Hillel’s Angels of N.J.; Mazel Tuffs of Pittsburgh; Chaiway Riders of Chicago; Yidden on Wheels of Toronto and Australia; Chai Riders of N.Y.; Golf Riders of N.J.; Shalom n’ Chrome of Charleston, S.C. and King David Bikers of South Florida.
Since 2004, when the JMA was first organized, past R2Rs have been held in such places as Washington, D.C., New York City, Omaha, Neb, Chicago-Skokie, Virginia Beach, Toronto, Providence, R.I. and Nashville, Tenn. Next year’s R2R will be in St. Louis.
For more information on the Sabra Riders, go to www.sabrariders.com, or contact Kenny Gordon, 678-570-8826.