Tuesday, May 11, 2010


from Traveler's Prayer

May it be Your will, Adonai, our God and the God of our ancestors, that You lead us toward peace, guide our footsteps toward peace, and make us reach our desired destination for life, gladness, and peace.

We were chalutzim.

Like most chalutzim
we took it a bit on the chin
so others could follow.

We blazed trails
hurdled unforeseen barriers
tested the mission as much as ourselves.
We learned more from failure
than we did from success
and it all defined success.

Only in the end
do we understand
the trail of danger
of ignored impediments
that lies in our wake.

Only after claiming victory
do we reflect on potential loss.
Only having been delivered
do we recognize the hand
of redemption in
being here at all.

We do not know how or why we did it.
It just had to be done.
It can’t be undone
nor will it be done
exactly this way
ever again.

There is good reason to pray three times a day.

The Birkhat HaGomel blessing is said after surviving danger.
Blessed are You, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the Universe, Who bestows good things on the unworthy, and has bestowed on me every goodness.

Hazon CaRide

Hazon's first California Bike Ride was such a unique compilation of people, geography, weather, experiences, emotions, and challenges....

We had a beautiful Shabbaton. My spiritual samplings included traditional Kabbalat Shabbat singing, Qi Gong, chanting, Frisbee, and a meditation hike in the forest.

As for the ride, words can't capture its breadth or depth. I had the honor of starting us off with a few blasts of shofar. For a group dedicated to saving the environment, Mother Nature wasn’t all that kind in return. We started off in rain Sunday morning, which fortunately gave way to cool sunny skies later as we progressed through hillsides and farmlands, along the coast, passing many sheep and cows, a few llama, an egret, and just before finishing the day a wild turkey even ran right across the road before me. I decided that was a good omen.

Monday was a more eclectic experience, and fraught with considerable peril. We had a mixture of rural, suburban, and very urban roads. The weather was less cooperative than the day before, with much cold rain and gusty winds penetrating every pore, making both climbs and ascents a challenge. Unlike Sunday where it was a simple route and I happily pedaled unaccompanied through most of the open landscape, on the second day the route may have been a bit too complex, and had it not been for the good fortune of linking up with some very perceptive fellow cyclists I surely would have lost my way. The scenery was captivating initially, a bit pedestrian through the Marin towns, and then typically splendid as we made it through Sausalito on our approach to the Golden Gate Bridge.

Not everyone made it to the bridge. Fewer still made it across. I was one of the “lucky” ones who somehow got there on schedule. Stragglers had to be bussed to the Contemporary Jewish Museum in order to complete our events on time. A small band of us made our way to the pedestrian walkway facing the northbound traffic. The bicycle lane on the other side was closed. The wind was fierce. The rain felt like ice pellets hitting the side of my face. [Later I learned it was indeed hail.] Still, I really wouldn’t have missed this for the world!!!

There continued to be some confusion about the route once we crossed. I thought a bunch of us was headed in the same direction but pretty soon I was on my own again, but at least in familiar territory. Pedaling along the Embarcadero’s cobblestones and railroad tracks would have been sufficiently challenging without the continuing rain. Probably a mile from the goal my bicycle suddenly went out from under me. My helmet did its job as I fell to my right and lay stunned on the pavement. Very kind people stopped their car behind me to protect me as I slowly regained some sense of composure (I did not lose consciousness). I got to my feet, checked for damage, and somewhat gingerly completed the ride to the museum. Once there I was further blessed by the kindness of our docs and other volunteers who gave me warm dry clothing, and by a friend who provided a most welcome bowl of hot chicken soup.

The weekend was everything from agony to bliss, and I wouldn’t trade a minute of it—well maybe the fall. As the oldest rider among many twenty-and thirty-somethings I feel I still had lessons to learn about perseverance, about recognizing the many forms of beauty life offers, about accepting love and blessings in many forms. It was a miracle that I finished.

On this adventure I felt as I did on my first Hazon bike ride in the Negev in 2008. I could be alone, dependant on my own strength and will, able to meditate on the emptiness of the road and landscape that surrounded me, and at the same time comforted that I was part of something larger—a community who provided love and support, all of us in a larger community supported by an even greater unending love.

Baruch haShem.

Learn more about Hazon’s good works and future events at Hazon.org.

Monday, May 10, 2010


We use labels that never quite fit—
pick any one you like.

We convince ourselves and others
that our movement
is right
is worth your consideration
your dollars.

Maybe you just observe in awe and admiration.
I did, as when I first
pulled padded spandex up my legs
stretched strident colors over my head
Who was I to wear this costume?

We talk of Nature
and do un-natural things in her defense
hurtling our bodies through space
defying gravity in both directions
ascending in pain
descending in fear
cursing, at times, the very elements
of heat and cold, wind and water
we exalt with our sacrifice in our almost naked quest.

The more we defy you the more we
stand in awe of you
unlike those whose great machines
and bulwarks give a false sense of

We feel you.
We are you.
We face you and feel your face angrily
indifferently, lovingly
returning our gaze.
We have no illusion of supremacy.
Our connection to you
connects us to all that exists.
That is why the poet says
we do not need names.
That is his way of saying
we are

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Walker Creek Ranch
Petaluma, California

The first riding day complete.
Assured that there would be no rain,
yet rain there was.
Just a mist at first, as we left the dining hall
heading for our group photo.

By the time the Traveler’s Prayer was
recited in Hebrew and then in English
and the shofar sounded to start the ride,
mist had become droplets.

Soon came cold driving rain
in our faces, penetrating
our gear, obscuring our goggles,
sloshing between our toes. The bright
greens and blues we anticipated for our departure
were muted tints of gray.

Through the understandable disappointment,
despite the fright that flew along side skinny tires
spinning across slick asphalt contours,
I felt alive in a unique way. I thought about my brother—
how the promise of blue skies has faded for him,
how doubt lingers at every turn in the road
how sublime comforts once taken for granted
are replaced with the will to take each day on its own terms,
rejoicing in what is, rather than bemoaning what could or should have been.

In that context this was a beautiful day.
The cold, the wind, the hazards—
all part of the uncertain journey
that is every day.