A Jewish car club?
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A Jewish car club?

Gearheads meet monthly at Reform Temple of Rockland

Members of the Reform Temple of Rockland’s car club and their wives meet for dinner.
Members of the Reform Temple of Rockland’s car club and their wives meet for dinner.

It’s fair to say that most people don’t mind driving. Their cars get them where they want to go, safely and efficiently.

Some people like to make statements — about their self-image, their finances, their solidity or sportiness — with their cars.

And then some people just plain love to drive, and they love their cars.

Barry Fleischman just plain loves cars. All cars. Old cars. New cars. Cars in books. Cars in magazines. Cars in dealerships. His cars. Did I mention all cars?

Barry and Wendy Fleishman have lived in New City for decades, but they’re fairly new members of the Reform Temple of Rockland in Upper Nyack. But they’re active new members — right after they joined, “we submerged ourselves in a variety of clubs and temple activities,” Mr. Fleishman said. “We were at a marketing and membership committee meeting and someone, I think it was the rabbi, mentioned that someone had tried to start a car club, but it didn’t go anywhere.

“He didn’t realize that I was a car enthusiast. I said, ‘Hold on. That’s a good idea. Let me try it.’”

He did.

“I put a blurb in the monthly Connections” — the synagogue’s newsletter — “and I got a fair response,” he said. “More than a dozen people said, ‘Sure. Let’s go. Let’s do it.’ So we had our first meeting a little over a year ago.”

The Reform Temple of Rockland’s car club meets every month, and between half a dozen and a dozen show up to each meeting. “Sometimes we have an agenda, and sometimes we don’t,” Mr. Fleishman said. “Sometimes we bring in car magazines or car parts, or show a car movie, like ‘Bullitt’ with Steve McQueen, or footage of Paul Newman at Le Mans.

“One of our members is Denis Tanney; he’s a famous automotive photographer. Everyone is — we’re a bunch of enthusiasts.”

That bunch of enthusiasts is almost entirely male; there is one woman who is a member. Often, though, the men and their wives have dinner together.

So what does it mean to be a car enthusiast, Mr. Fleishman? “It means that you live and breathe cars,” he said. “You look at cars in a different way. You notice things about cars that other people don’t. You’re in tune with the latest things going on in the industry — new cars, new trends. You go to car races. There are dozens of car magazines, and you have subscriptions to many of them. You have read most of them since you were a kid.”

So it starts in childhood? Often it does, Mr. Fleishman said; certainly it did for him. He was about 6 years old when he fell in love with cars. He began college majoring in mechanical engineering, switched to geology, and then once he graduated went back to his first love. “I spent 27 years with Mercedes Benz,” he said; he worked in a few dealerships as a service director. “Now I work for BMW in Bloomfield,” he said. He loves driving; he’s gone to race car school. His car now? A Mercedes 2010, C Class, he said.

Is there anything particularly Jewish about the club — other than the fact that it meets at a synagogue? “Nothing other than the camaraderie, and that we take care of each other,” Mr. Fleishman said. “And those certainly are Jewish values.”

The Reform Temple of Rockland’s car club is open to everyone — in fact, it just got its first visit from a member of another shul, Congregation Sons of Israel in Upper Nyack. It welcomes any car enthusiast or gearhead who’d like to stop by.

For more information about the car club, which meets the second Thursday of every month, email Barry Fleishman at barrymb@aol.com.

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