“It’s a life-changer. From the training through the fundraising to the ride itself, it is an experience of a lifetime. Once you participate, you are hooked for life and you go on to involve others.” So commented Josh Einhorn of Teaneck after his recent participation in the 8th Bike4Chai ride on August 16-17. For sections of the 180-mile ride, through three states, Josh rode alongside his brother, Rabbi David Einhorn of Passaic, a highly regarded rebbe at TABC.
After an opening ceremony on Tuesday, August 15, when riders assembled and collected their gear, including jerseys, water bottles and maps, Bike4Chai officially began in the early hours of Wednesday, August 16, when riders set out on a clearly marked 180-mile route winding through the picturesque and often rugged, hilly terrains of Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. Along the route, fully stocked rest stops at 20-mile intervals provided food, supplies and entertainment. Medical support was available throughout the ride for any problems that arose. Day 1 ended at the Crystal Springs Resort in Vernon, New Jersey, where riders were feted with food and relaxation in preparation for the next day. Encouraging and inspirational divrei Torah were offered as part of the program.
Day 2 of the ride on Thursday, August 17, took riders through Upstate New York, supported once again by rest stops and amenities. One mile before arriving at Camp Simcha in Glen Spey, the riders re-grouped so that they all arrived simultaneously, crossing the “World’s Greatest Finish Line” in a jubilant, unified group. Riders were greeted by the ecstatic campers and staff, outfitted in colorful and creative costumes, as well as their cheering families and friends who gathered at the camp to celebrate their great feat. Celebrations included concerts, an awards ceremony and a lavish BBQ.
Netting over $8 million this year, Bike4Chai is reputed to be one of the largest non-profit fundraising events worldwide. The ride’s humble initiation began in 2009 when solitary but visionary Chai Lifeline counselor, Dovid Egert, biked 135 miles from his home in Lakewood, New Jersey. to Glen Spey, New York. His groundbreaking ride netted $10,000 and sparked an innovation in fundraising. The next year, Egert was joined by 39 riders. Every year since its inception, Bike4Chai has raised exponentially more. In 2016 the total pledged was over $6 million. This year, with over 530 riders participating, the ride has raised $8,449,155 to date, with pledges still coming in.
Einhorn and wife Malka have been Teaneck residents for three years. They are parents of Netanel, 5, and Uri, 3. “When I realize how blessed we are with a healthy family my heart goes out to the children of Camp Simcha who are not so fortunate. Whether from Modern Orthodox or Chassidishe families, or perhaps non-religious homes, they deserve a chance for happiness and a fun summer while undergoing long and painful treatments. If we can bring smiles to their faces and joy to their lives then we have performed a great mitzvah.”
Einhorn was inspired to join Bike4Chai by his brother Rabbi David Einhorn who rode in 2016 and again this year. A father of six, Rabbi Einhorn urged his brother to register as soon as registration was opened in January as it closes within hours. “I didn’t even own a bike but as soon as I began thinking about joining, I purchased a middle-of-the line road bike and started going out on rides. During the winter I trained in gyms where I took spin classes to get me in shape. By the spring I was training outdoors again. By June I was riding 60 miles and by July incredibly I was ready for the grueling 180 miles,” shared Einhorn.
“There were many aspects of the Bike4Chai which were truly life-changing. Professionally, I am in real estate but as a result of joining Bike4Chai I developed strengths in fundraising. I found myself successful in approaching friends, relatives and even co-workers, clients and customers. I believe that my enthusiasm for the cause and belief in its goals came out in my ‘pitch’ and the results were amazing. My initial goal was to raise $5,000, which I achieved. But then I realized that I could and should keep going. To date I have raised over $8,500 and money is still coming in.”
In addition to riding alongside his brother for parts of their ride, Einhorn found himself biking and chatting with men from diverse backgrounds, “I rode along a Chassid from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for a few hours and found that we had a great deal in common. Most of all, we believed in the cause we were riding for.” Einhorn and his brother hope to participate in Bike4Chai 2018 and invite the community to join them.
Visit Bike4Chai.org for details and registration.
By Pearl Markovitz