By Rabbi Art Gould
In my family everyone’s favorite relative was Uncle Sid Goldman (alav ha’shalom), aka Goldie, aka Solid Gold. We would say – because it was true – that you could put Goldie down anywhere in the world and in ten minutes he would have not new friends but old friends.
That’s how I feel about the Israel Ride. I first rode in 2008 and by the time we got to Ashkelon I had a number of newly minted old friends.
Like Edna Granot from Australia, with whom I always ride the downhill out of Mitzpe Ramon on Sunday morning because we like to take it easy going down that spectacular piece of the route. Or my old friend Paula Reckess who sent us encouraging emails and a promise to procure a bottle of champaign when we were struggling to escape Hurricane Sandy and make it on time for the 2012 ride. We made it and I’ve never tasted a more rewarding glass of champaigne.
Especially important to me is my old friend Mousa Diabat, alum of the Arava Institute. Mousa was driving the bike truck out of Mitzpe Ramon the same Sunday morning in 2008. Another of my freshly made old friends – Howie Rodenstein – had made such a big deal about the dangers of that leg that he scared me right off my bike and into the cab of Mousa’s truck to skip that downhill. (Hey, I grew up in the flat Midwest, and I live in a flat area of California). Mousa, his wife Jehan, and son Aseel have stayed with us in the Bay Area whenever they’ve been in town, as has another old friend and alum of the Institute – Ilana Meallem. You won’t get to make Mousa your old friend this fall, because they will (G-d Willing, Yirtza HaShem and Insh’allah!)be having another child right about the time of the ride.
I’ve made too many old friends on the ride to mention them all.
I’m looking forward to making more old friends this fall. To all the riders in the Bay Area – and you know who you are – let’s get together for some training rides this summer, so we can make some old friendships even before we all convene in Bayit V’Gan. Just get my email or phone number from Hazon and give me a call!
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