Bike 2019: Day 5.1 Bealesville to Washington, DC

Blogger: Noah Droege

In customary day 5 bike trip fashion, it was very nice weather. The sun was out, the birds were chirping (and the bike chains as well, thanks to yesterday’s rain). Time is an interesting thing on a bike; I think the spinning of the wheels changes the fabric of spacetime or something because hours can turn to minutes once they get moving. Sometimes it’s nice to let yourself slip into the wormhole of the road, but lately I’ve been restraining myself from speeding off, and instead taking Ben’s advice and breathing consciously a few times. He suggested this as a way to live in the moment, and I’ve really found myself enjoying each one of the moments I found myself in.

So, we left Am Kolel after breakfast, and in what seemed like an instant we made it to our lunchtime retreat at Adat Shalom synagogue. What a blessed place. Rabbi Fred treated us to generous amounts of food and accommodations, as well as a wonderful conversation on the ways that faith supports (and sometimes demands) meaningful action to protect the Creator’s creation. He also talked about the architecture of the synagogue, including motifs of the Tree of Life present in the walls and on the doors of the cabinet holding their sacred texts. Of particular note was the Torah that he brought out. It was an interesting manuscript in its own right, but what made it special was the story behind it.

This Torah was one of many taken from synagogues across Europe in the second world war. As the nazi’s swept through towns, they would take both Jews and their sacred texts. The Jews were sent to the concentration camps, but the texts were preserved in what was to become a museum of the dead race. This “museum” was eventually found during the years after the war, and the texts were given to a Jewish organization in England, where they were distributed to various places around the world, including right in front of me.

It struck me that, much like this Torah, each one of the riders carries much more than what can be seen at face value. We carry stories of hope, determination, and much much more with us as we enter those congressional offices. We also talked about Machloket, or “sacred argument”. Machloket teaches us to debate not to destroy the opponent, but to learn with them and come to an understanding together. We will also bring this with us to those congressional offices.

As the group left Adat Shalom, we blended together onto the bike path, creating this peloton of riders from all walks of life, at different stages in their own separate journeys, all riding together toward a brighter future. We reached the Steinbruck center with just enough time to take a breath, relax, and shower before dinner and a briefing by Alison and Cricket on the specifics of our [Capitol] Hill visits tomorrow. They did a wonderful job (as always) of collating the information into neat folders that we can look over and use on the Hill. I am now the last one still in the dining hall, and as I get ready to make my way to bed, I feel the same thing I saw in everyone else as they left: a bit of apprehension, a bit of uncertainty, but overwhelming readiness. We have adapted to rain, to cold, and to all the trials of this journey. We will do so again tomorrow.

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