33,000 Bikers Greeted With Tefillin and Cholent

Bikers taking part in a seven-day bike ride across the state of Iowa were welcomed into Chabad of N.E. Iowa for tefillin, and on Shabbos, for a full Shabbos kiddush.

Bikers taking part in a seven-day bike ride across the state of Iowa were welcomed by a Chabad N.E. Iowa led by Rabbi Aron Schimmel and bochurim from the Postville yeshiva as they passed through the town.

On Friday, Bochurim from Postville Yeshiva traveled to West Union, Iowa to meet the bikes as they passed through the city. The bochurim parked themselves alongside the bike route and distributed bottled water, Shabbos candles, and Tefillin.

Many of the bikers expressed their happiness to see the Chabad boys there, and the bochurim even got to celebrate a number of bar mitzvahs right there in the middle of the street.

On Shabbos afternoon, as the riders passed through the small town of Postville, they were welcomed by Chabad N.E. Iowa delicious Kiddush Lunch with traditional Jewish foods such as Gefilta Fish, Challa, and hot cholent.

On Sunday, shliach Rabbi Aron Schimmel received a moving letter from Saverio Spagnolie, a professor of mathematics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who was one of many bikers who stopped at Chabad.

“I stepped into the Chabad house in Postville yesterday (one of the very many other visitors I’m sure). On the previous day, I engaged with many of your younger congregants outside a Casey’s in West Union, of all places.”

“As a teacher and parent I was unable to keep myself from challenging them with some questions and we talked for about 45 minutes. They responded intelligently and respectfully. I was impressed with this bunch and rapidly became enamored with them. I hope they felt cared for and respected in the interaction, even if we didn’t see eye to eye on things. While I opted not to wear the tefillin I still felt a renewed connection with a Jewish community – I expect that counts as the mitzvah they were aiming for, even if they didn’t have the satisfaction of performing a physical rite. 

“If there is a way in which I can be of use to any of these young people, the Chabad of Postville should consider itself to have a friend at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.”

The bikers were taking part in RAGBRAI, an annual seven-day bicycle ride across the state of Iowa. Heading into its 49th year, RAGBRAI is the oldest, largest and longest multi-day recreational bicycle touring event in the world. People from all over the country participate in this ride.


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