Zeke’s bar mitzva bike ride to fight climate change

Final update: Zeke returned home from Seattle on Thursday, August 1. He biked 1,800 (CHAI-hundred) miles! He had a great time, was amazed by the awesome beauty of the coast and the incredible kindness of strangers and friends, and raised about $2,000 for the local chapter of the Sierra Club. The day he came back he started planning next summer's ride through the Sierra Cascades (like the Pacific Crest Trail for bikes). My wife and I are proud of him and happy to have him back home.

Update: Zeke is in Cannon Beach, OR. I biked with him to Florence, which was really fun, where he met up with some friends who will continue on with him to Seattle. Making shabbat together at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park was wonderful. We had a homemade challah from my wife toasted over the campfire (lit before shabbos of course). The rocky Oregon coast and gigantic sand dunes are so beautiful- we both felt very grateful to live in such an incredible world. We've had some great talks about climate change, religion, and everything else we could think of. And played a lot of Botticelli, Geography, and Ghost. And, of course, in keeping with Jewish tradition, we ate a lot, especially bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon, which is really good in coastal California and Oregon.

Update: So far Zeke has biked somewhere between 600 and 700 miles. He is tired but still full of enthusiasm. He is here in Berkeley for a rest day and we are looking forward to celebrating shabbat together. Then he will continue on with his grandpa up the coast. Just like the daughters of Tzlofchad, Zeke is fighting climate change to make sure his generation can receive their inheritance- a world where we do our best to care for God's creation!

My son Zeke is 12. He set out Sunday, June 16, on a 1,500 mile bike ride to fight climate change and to mark his coming bar mitzva. Accompanied by friends and family, he will spend about 4 weeks riding up the Pacific Coast from the Mexican border to Astoria, OR, camping and staying with friends along the way. I'll be with him for a little over a week, from Fort Bragg, CA to Florence, OR. This ride is the fulfillment of a year of his dreaming, scheming, and planning to make it happen. It is a self-organized and self-supported ride. He is using the ride to raise money for the Sierra Club's work to fight climate change, and is already having great success. So far he is having a great time, soaking up the views of the ocean and the hills. Peak moments include a tour of the restored Huntington Beach Wetlands from Gordon Smith of the Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy and his great-grandmother delivering two kosher Polish dogs from Jeff's in LA to him on the bike trail in Marina Del Rey.

Sounds uncannily similar to the Bar Mitzva and the Beast, doesn't it? (If you don't know what I am referring to, it is a book by Matt Biers Ariel about his son's ride across the country for his bar mitzva and to fight climate change.)

Zeke loves bike riding. It started a few years ago with riding a mile to school. Zeke soon declared his intention to bike to Alaska and through a series of day trips we made it several hundred miles north to Arcata. This year he decided that his bar mitzva social action project/excuse to go on a great adventure would be riding from the Mexican border to Vancouver. He got the maps (Adventure Cycling) and has done lots of the planning and preparations himself, including some awesome training rides in the San Francisco Bay Area where we live. This year, we made it up the local trio of mountains- Diablo, Tam, and Hamilton- although we never figured out which corresponded to our local Mt. Gerizim, Mt Ebal, or Mt. Sinai. We also did a century ride, although it took us about 10 hours of riding. I suppose as Jews we should do a 120-mi ride- that's what Moses would have done!

If you know about the Pacific Coast, you know that prevailing winds blow from north to south, so Zeke is doing this the hard way, apparently to exemplify the whole "stiff necked people" thing (we tried to talk him into going the other way). Does this have anything else to do with Judaism? I'd like to think so- we have always talked about Judaism's environmental wisdom, from the sabbatical year to shooing the mother bird from her nest. But maybe he just loves biking and wants to protect the environment.

Here is a link to the journal he has started about the ride:


Below is his fundraising letter, if you would care to contribute and/or circulate it:

Hello Family, Friends, Strangers,
Have you ever traveled 1900 miles? Probably and you probably were flying in a plane.
Now imagine trying that distance in 5 weeks on a bicycle. Talk about crazy, right?
Well this summer I will do my best to ride those miles from San Diego to Vancouver to raise money for the Sierra Club's Climate Change Campaign (I have so far organized from San Diego to Northern Oregon, 1500 miles). I'll be riding with friends and family, camping out, staying at friend's houses, and having a great time. The purpose of my ride is twofold: first of all an awesome adventure, and second of all to demonstrate that the world could be a different place if we want it to, with people travelling in a way that is better for themselves and the planet.
Would you like to help me? You can come along and/or you can help me raise the money I want to donate to the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club is an organization that is trying to help stop global warming. They are trying to shut down coal plants in the U.S.A and are protesting the Keystone XL pipeline. It is really important to stop sea level rise and climate change, or else it won't snow in Minnesota and Kansas will become beachfront property. Well, maybe not that extreme. But, you know what I mean. In all seriousness, I feel I should do everything I can to reduce the threats to many plant and animal species who will suffer from global warming. Also, global warming would be disastrous to humans, wiping out most of Holland and Belgium, destroying Delaware, and taking out more than half of Manhattan and at least 3/4 of Long Island, which are only a few of the disasters our planet is facing. My goal on the ride to help raise money to help the Sierra Club and raise awareness of the danger Earth is in from global warming. I am asking if you would pledge for me. You can do one flat rate or by mile. The choice is yours. Since I am doing this with friends and family, and not as part of an organized ride, every dollar you pledge will go straight to the Sierra Club's campaign- not a penny will go to pay for the ride.
If you are thinking about riding with me part (or all!) of the way, send me an email and I'll send you my itinerary. Even joining me for a day or two would be great! If you are able to donate to the Sierra Club, you can send a check to
San Francisco Bay Chapter Sierra Club
2530 San Pablo Ave. Suite I
Berkeley, CA 94702-2000
or go to their website, here:
Melanie Jolly, the Development Director of the SF Bay Area Sierra Club chapter, is going to help me track the donations people send in for the ride. If you could forward the receipt you get to her at
melanie@sfbaysc.org noting that the donation is inspired by my ride, she will be able to track them. Or if you want to make a pledge per mile, and then donate when you find out how far I make it, just email me back and let me know your pledge.



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