On a crisp autumn morning, on Sunday, October 27, 15 volunteers began cheering as a caravan of cars—with bike racks on the back—headed for Chickahominy Riverfront Park in Williamsburg.
Bikers, of all ages and physical abilities, came out to demonstrate their support of the Friends of Israel Defense Force’s Virginia Chapter inaugural Biking for Soldiers.
“The riders and volunteers came to support the brave men and women, who risk their lives each day to protect and safeguard the State of Israel,” says Alex Pomerantz, FIDF’s director of Virginia, Mid-Atlantic Region.
Marcy Mostofsky credits Pomerantz for persuading her to sign-on for Biking for Soldiers, despite some reservations.
“I hadn’t gotten myself on a bicycle in a couple of years.” Mostofsky says. “But my friend Shira Itzhak, who does a whole lot of bike races as a triathlon, helped me do 16 miles!”
Mostofsky has a 24-year-old daughter, llana Peck, who finished her two-year stint in the Israeli Army in December. Peck, and her boyfriend, Yarden West, were Lone Soldiers in Israel. West received FIDF help through a very rough period of his life.
“On FIDF trips, donors get to meet all types of soldiers who come to Israel from many countries in the world,” says Peck. “And, every soldier has a different story why they went to serve in Israel.”
Hanukkah presents are among the many ways FIDF helps soldiers in need.
“Before the holidays, FIDF gives the soldiers 500 shekels ($144) to make their life as easy as possible.”
When it comes to the topic of charitable giving (or not giving), Peck has an interesting perspective.
“What goes around comes back around in that, if you’re lucky enough to have enough, then why not give to others that don’t?”
An FIDF contributor, Brad Bangel has taken multiple missions to Israel. He attended FIDF’s Inaugural Virginia Gala in 2018 and, in 2019, signed-up for Biking for Soldiers.
Bangel began riding 20–25 miles in May with his regular biking crowd: Nathan Segal, Mark Levin, Harry Laderberg, and Paul Terkeltaub.
Bangel and friends completed the 30-mile ride in under three hours, factoring in the half-way stop at the Charles City Courthouse Grille.
“Riding back in the car from Williamsburg, we all agreed that the event was well organized,” says Bangel. “We look forward to doing Biking for Soldiers next year. It’s for a good cause!”
Norman Goldin was born into a Zionist family.
“I feel there can be no greater mitzvah than supporting the people who are putting their lives on the line for Israel,” says Goldin.
Supporting the Biking for Soldiers event appealed to Goldin for multiple reasons: FIDF has an impressive Four-Star rating for charities and FIDF’s partnership with Wounded Warrior and American Wounded Veterans.
In the mix there is Goldin’s hope that events as exhilarating as Biking for Soldiers will appeal to young people.
“The most important way to support Israel is to insure its physical survival,” says Goldin. “FIDF is a particular love of mine.”
– Devorah Ben-David Elstein