On Sunday, November 18, twelve members of Congregation Dor Hadash and 6 members of the Pittsburgh Youth Leadership group set out for a 60-mile bike ride from Pittsburgh to Connellsville on the Great Allegheny Passage. Our fearless leader, Mark, assured us it was only 50 miles, the wind would be at our backs, the sun would be out and it would be downhill all the way. Only one of those turned out to be true, the sun was out and directly in our eyes most of the afternoon.
This bike ride had a special purpose. The PYL youth wanted to host the members of Congregation Dor Hadash on a healing solidarity ride. The Dor Hadash community was one of the victims of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting, just 3 weeks earlier. The shooting claimed the life of one of our congregants, the health of another and forced us out of our spiritual home. We were all still in shock and struggling with our loss. Feeling protected and supported was the best gift the PYL could have given us.
Our ride began in downtown Pittsburgh, with a healing prayer from Hassan. Tay, Brian, Nick and Hassan escorted us out of the city, and stayed with us for the long ride. Gene joined us later on the trail and Noah had the “cush” job of driving our support van the reward for being in the PYL for a long time.
The ride was tough. We all do a lot of cycling around town and bike commuting, but most of us had not seen 60 miles of cycling in a day for a while. There was a very gradual but relentless uphill grade. The wind in Pittsburgh is almost always out of the west, but for this day it came directly at us out of the east. The only mishap was an exploded bike tire. Lunch was at a Subway, and Subway food never tasted so good (and probably never will again).
We left Pittsburgh at 8:30am and everyone was in Connellsville by 5:30pm. By 6pm, we had the bikes loaded on the van. The team of happily exhausted bicyclists crammed into the van and Noah drove us home.
I want to thank PYL, for the time, energy and support they gave the bicyclists of Dor Hadash. The ride was fun, exhausting and healing all at the same time. I can say that I slept through the night for the first time since the terrible shooting at our synagogue and that is healing.