MILWAUKEE – It’s such a shonda, the Chicago Jewish motorcycle club came up to Milwaukee, to send a message.
The Chronicle met with the delegation – Fred Brostoff, president of the Chicago Chaiway Riders; Bruce Cohen, vice president; and Adam Bezark, membership chair. With them was the president of the national Jewish Motorcyclists Alliance, Bob Cohen, representing close to 40 local motorcycle chapters in North America, Israel and more.
They came with one key question. It’s a painful one for us. Brace yourself. It goes something like this: In the city where Harley-Davidson was founded, the home of the Harley-Davidson Museum, where bikers will flood the city by the tens of thousands for a Harley-Davidson birthday party, why do we have no Jewish motorcycle club?
The Chicago guys are looking to help start one here.
They actually ride into Wisconsin regularly. When the weather is better, they’ll ride together every Sunday, first meeting for breakfast on the North Side of Chicago, then heading someplace (often in Wisconsin) for lunch.
“We ride to eat,” jokes Brostoff.
The weekly rides will attract around 6-10 bikers, though a more organized monthly Sunday ride will consist of 10-20 bikes. They’ve visited old synagogues, the National Mustard Museum in Middleton, the quaint town of Galena, Illinois, the landmark Mars Cheese Castle, you name it.
There are also “Meet & Greet” events organized by the national Jewish Motorcyclists Alliance. One such event held in Pittsburgh, to show support after the Tree of Life shooting, attracted about 75 bikers from all over. (One member remembers saying the prayers at a service there, which led to a congregant expressing confusion: You’re a biker who is Jewish?)
An annual nationwide Ride 2 Remember has raised $500,000 over the last 15 years for Holocaust education in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Toronto and elsewhere. This year, it’s San Diego that will be overtaken with roars, booms, rumbles and oys.
The club is social, the Chicago fellas say. And it’s safer to ride together – for example, they’ve got hand signals to point out potholes to one another.
Riding is fun, too. It’s not at all like riding in a car.
“You’re interacting much more with your environment,” Bezark said. “I don’t know how anyone could not enjoy riding a motorcycle.”
Who knew Chicago could be helpful to a vastly superior city like Milwaukee? The Chicago Chaiway Riders are collecting names for a future Wisconsin club.
“If you would like to be included in starting a club, let us know,” Bezark said.
Contact Adam Bezark at 847-636-1070 or Bezeeebear@Gmail.com.
Editor’s note: Since this article was published in print, a local motorcycle group with several Jewish riders has connected with the Chronicle and is reaching out to the Chaiway Riders. More in our next edition!
Jewish motorcycle clubs
Of the nearly 40 member clubs of the Jewish Motorcyclists Alliance, here are seven with our most favorite club names:
• Chaiway Riders, Chicago
• Hillel’s Angels, Jackson, New Jersey
• Mazel Tuff, Pittsburgh
• Ridin’ Chai, San Jose
• Shalom & Chrome, southern California
• Star Cruisers, Portland
• The Thirteenth Tribe, Fairlawn, New Jersey