A real gift / pass this on…

By Nigel Savage

Thursday, May 17, 2018 | 3rd Sivan 5778 | 47th day of the omer | Hod she’b’Malchut

Dear All,

This email is intended to be a gift, a series of gifts.

I offer you – variously – the chance to get in better shape; the chance to spend joyous time with old friends, and to make new ones; the chance to give and to learn; and the chance to do good in the world.

You acquire these gifts by doing one or more of the following things:

  • Ride in our New York Ride, this coming Labor Day weekend, or
  • Crew in our New York Ride, and/or
  • Send this email on to someone you know – or a whole bunch of people you know – who might like to ride with us, and/or
  • Click here to sponsor me or any one of our riders in this year’s Ride.

I want to say straightforwardly: there’s no irony or humor or jokiness intended in what I’ve just written. These are gifts, real gifts, for you and/or someone you know, and I invite you sincerely to accept them.

The Ride began in 2001. This will be our 18th consecutive ride. For some, certainly for me, the Ride is genuinely [over-used phrase, but true] life-changing. The Ride has been, for different people, variously, the moment they got in shape / met their spouse / stepped into Jewish life / stepped into life / decided to live more intentionally / connected or reconnected to Israel / made friends who’ve remained friends for a lifetime.

So: here’s a bit on what the Ride is, and what’s involved.

  • It’s Labor Day Weekend – a two-day Shabbat retreat and a two-day ride;
  • It takes place – starts and ends – at Isabella Freedman, and there’s transport from NY;
  • You commit to raising at least $1,200 ($800 if you’re 30 or younger) to significantly reduce the collective carbon footprint of the Jewish community (Seal of Sustainability), and create a cadre of environmental leaders who are informed, committed, and compassionate (Adamah & Teva). We hope that in fact, you will raise much more (and we have support, encouragement, and incentives to help you.)If you in any way feel that the world is messed up and that you’d like to go to bed at night feeling that you’ve done some small thing that was a step in a good direction, then supporting one or all of these programs meets that test. Each of these programs rallies the resources of Jewish life, in persistent and impactful ways, to make a more sustainable world for all.That’s why I invite you, even if you’re not planning to ride, to sponsor one of our riders, right now, and then pass this email on to your friends to do likewise. (It doesn’t have to be a huge amount – though we’d love it if it is. But – even before you read on – just click here and sponsor someone for $36. Or more, or less. Just please do it – one small but good mitzvah, today.)
  • Shabbat – good food, good people. Learning. Celebration. Hiking. Yoga.
  • Sunday and Monday – two days of riding through the beautiful Berkshires surrounding Isabella Freedman (more route info here.) As little or as much as you want to bike. Fully supported. We’ll feed you every five minutes, and pick up you and your bike if you get tired.
  • A great kids’ program, plus for the first time in Hazon Ride history, we will also be doing a Family Ride for children ages 5-11 on Sunday of the Ride.

That’s it – those are the headlines.

I’ll be there. I would love to ride with you. If you have questions, be in touch with me or with Miriam Leichtling, our Director of Cycling Events and Engagement.

If your shul or school or institution wants to form a team – we’d love that too. And if you sign up a team of four or more people before June 1, HALF of your fundraising (you have until October 31 to fundraise) can go towards a charity of your choice that is in line with our mission. This is the most we have ever offered for our teams. (If you form a team after June 1, your charity will get 25%.) Choose a team captain, and form a team of friends, family, or colleagues. Take advantage of this amazing opportunity to support two great causes you care about.

By the way: there’s a right way and a wrong way to sign up for the 2018 NY Ride & Retreatthis Labor Day Weekend at Isabella Freedman.

The wrong way is to say “Oh, ok; I’ll get a bike, and then I’ll train, and then maybe I’ll sign up.” That’s the wrong way because that’s not how life works for most people. The right way is: you sign up now. Today – right now. For real. And then you go holy crap! What did I just do??!!!!

If he were around, that’s how Nachshon ben Aminadav would sign up for the Ride. According to midrash, he was the guy who walked into the Red Sea, right up to his neck – and then, and only then, the waters parted.

That’s what our tradition teaches, over and over. Na’aseh v’nishmahWe learn by doing.
So, seriously…. Come and ride with me!! 
You’ll get in shape.
You’ll meet new people.
You’ll do good in the world.
You’ll have a blast.
And you’ll go into Rosh Hashanah – a few days later – feeling happy and proud of yourself and ready for new challenges in a new year.

One final note, in a different vein. I just got back from two weeks in Israel, so I feel very intensely aware of everything that’s happened this week.

I’m sad that so many people have lost their lives. I wish that Gazans and their leaders would focus their energy and their creativity for good and not simply in rage. Of many things that have been written, I especially commend this one from Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman.

And my own advice, for what it’s worth, is: Breathe deep, all of us.
Don’t give in to either/or thinking.
You can be Jewish, a proud Zionist, strongly pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-Palestinian. Against violence. Against prejudice against Muslims. Against Muslim anti-semitism. Feeling empathy for Gazans who have lost their lives. Feeling for Israelis put in an impossible position. Against virulent online attacks on Israel that simply detach from reality. None of these things need be in contradiction with any of the others. 

I stand in friendship and solidarity with everyone who is grounded in their own traditions and beliefs, open and curious about the lives and beliefs and choices of others, and willing to entertain the thought that underpins freedom and civilization: hmmm, that’s so interesting. I never thought that before…

So, to one and all: May we be blessed to live in peace and freedom, to be curious, to keep our sense of humour, and to be a force for good in all that we say and all that we do.

Ramadan Mubarak; Shabbat Shalom; and chag sameach,


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