JFCS’s friends bike, walk to fight hunger
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JFCS’s friends bike, walk to fight hunger

This group biked to Bear Mountain. (JFCS)
This group biked to Bear Mountain. (JFCS)

On Sunday, June 14, more than 220 people biked, walked, and ran their way through northern New Jersey and beyond as participants in the 10th annual Wheels for Meals — Ride to Fight Hunger.

This year’s ride was a resounding success. It raised more than $166,000, exceeding the goal set to support Jewish Family and Children’s Services of Northern New Jersey. Funds raised help provide essential services to homebound seniors, vulnerable families, and needy people through programs such as Kosher Meals on Wheels, the kosher food pantries, and mental health support. As a result of covid-19, JFCS has seen a large spike in requests for services: a 53 percent increase in Kosher Meals on Wheels requests, a 30 percent increase in food pantry visits, and a 20 percent increase in teletherapy calls.

The bar mitzvah boy, Gregory Michaels, second from right, with his mother, Natalya, brother, Alex, and father, Adam. (Meir Kruter)
JFCS board members and Chai Riders team captains; from left, Joan Krieger, Gail Lowenstein, and Sue Ann Levin
The Bayewitz family: from left, Tireza, Moshe, Ariel, and Nesya, surround Sammy, in front. (Meir Kruter)
Bat mitzvah girl Avigayil Geyer and her mother, Laurence. (Meir Kruter)
Jamie Janoff is captain of Team Jewish Standard.
Event founder David Feuerstein did the indoor Zoom ride.

This year, social distancing guidelines prevented the riders from leaving together from a central location and following the same rout, with hundreds of people biking together. Instead, single riders or small groups joined safely, using their own routes. Then they took to social media with the hashtag #JFCSVirtualRide to share their photos. Some riders biked more than 65 miles to the top of Bear Mountain; groups of kids and adults rode 12 miles through Saddle River Park, and one couple chose to bike 27.25 miles while enjoying the views in Nyack Beach State Park. The virtual event included three b’nai mitzvah, Gregory Michaels, Avigayil Geyer, and Maddie Brooks, who chose to include the Ride to Fight Hunger in their celebrations. Gregory Michaels lead a team of more than 60 participants on eight-mile ride in Tenafly, raising more than $19,000.

A few brave souls stepped up to the challenge and took part in a hourlong virtual spin class with two-time USA Cycling National Champion Mara Miller. You can watch the class on her YouTube channel by searching for Mara Miller JFCS Wheels for Meals.

To see more pictures from the day or to  learn more about JFCS, go to jfcsnnj.org.

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