My Shabbat in Jerusalem, my bike ride through Israel

David Barash is cantor with Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun of River Hills. He wrote these blog posts while on sabbatical in Israel, where he participated in the Israel Ride in November, 2017. For a link to more blog posts, visit or

Shabbat in Jerusalem

Oct. 19, 2017

There’s something special about preparing for Shabbat in Jerusalem. This always includes a trip to Machaneh Yehudah, the Jewish market, and as you can see it is bustling with activity.

There are all types of people visiting the market, and there is everything that you could want. The challah is so fresh, the vegetables so beautiful and the spices so fragrant!

Debra Gorra Barash and Cantor David Barash enjoying glidah (ice cream) on Ben Yehudah Street in Jerusalem. Submitted photo. Other photos by the Barashs.

On Shabbat morning, Debra and I attended services at Kehilat Har-El, a Reform synagogue established in 1958, the founding congregation of the Israeli Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism. As it was Shabbat Rosh Chodesh (Shabbat and the beginning of the new month), we were treated to wonderful services led by Cantor Evan Cohen with a very musical Hallel. I was given the honor of chanting the Torah blessings for the third Aliyah. Dr. Eliyahu Schleifer, professor emeritus of sacred music and former director of the school of sacred music at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem, chanted a beautiful haftarah. It was such a pleasure to talk with both of these cantors after the service.

On Shabbat afternoon, Debra and I walked to the Kotel (the Wailing Wall) in the Old City, about a 30 minute walk. What a pleasure to walk through the streets of Jerusalem, and literally to be able to “walk in the street” as there are very few cars driving on Shabbat in Jerusalem. It was a very pleasant afternoon and the weather was perfect – mostly downhill as we descended to the Kotel into history, and an uphill walk as we walked back to our room.

After Shabbat, we walked the pedestrian mall called Ben Yehuda which is just 1/2 block from where we are staying. Again what a difference from a few people walking around during Shabbat, to the hubbub of this busy walkway just after Shabbat. We ended the evening with a scoop of glidah at one of the main ice cream shops on Ben-Yehuda!

…. Wishing you a wonderful week,

David and Debra

Meeting More Friends And First Day Of The Ride

Nov. 2, 2017

Some of you may remember Ros Roucher and Phil Nadel who lived in Milwaukee over 10 years ago. Ros and Phil now live in K’far Saba close to Tel Aviv. We had an opportunity to see Ros in Jerusalem on Monday morning at a coffee shop and she sends warm regards to those that she and Phil know in Milwaukee.

Lining up to start the Israel Ride! Participants in the annual Israel Ride are mostly from the United States.

On Tuesday, we made our way to Ramat Rachel hotel on Kibbutz Ramat Rachel. There, Chanan helped me to get my rental bike ready for the big ride!  We had a traditional falafel and Middle Eastern lunch all together, and during the evening at the ride briefing, we were reminded to ride safely and that this is a “ride” – not a race, so we need to have fun and do what we can. It is a very supportive ride with (of course) lots of food, snacks and water. We are riding in three different groups that take different routes each day according to levels of elevation (yes that means how steep the hills are) and total miles.

We had an amazing first day of riding from Ramat Rachel to Ashkelon traveling west across the country. We began with a large breakfast and the send-off of over 180 riders. Riders range from 13 to 76 years of age.  The weather has been gorgeous with the sun shining the whole time.

The descent out of Jerusalem was breathtaking and we encountered a number of significant hills along the way. We ended our biking day in the Ethiopian agricultural village in Kiryat Gat where we learned all about traditional Ethiopian life, and shared in a delicious Ethiopian meal. We arrived in Ashkelon in time to see a beautiful sunset over the Mediterranean Sea ….

David and Debra

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About the Israel Ride

Cantor David Barash rode with the annual Israel Ride in November of 2017. There are typically riders of all ages (including those celebrating a bar or bat mitzvah), religious backgrounds and cycling abilities. Riders take different routes. Barash’s group rode west from Jerusalem towards Ashkelon. More info: