Members of the Council of Presidents of American Jewish Organizations have ditched meetings with Israeli leaders for fundraising bicycle rides in the Negev Desert. flickr commons
The Jewish federation movement said it would suspend nearly all traditional fundraising activities, including gala dinners and Israel missions, and focus instead on sponsored bicycle rides.
The news comes in response to a report that bike rides accounted for nearly 90 percent of all Jewish charitable giving in 2019.
Last year Facebook users were asked to sponsor as many as 2 million people taking part in 3 million bike rides. Sponsors included Hazon, ALYN Children’s Hospital, Bike4Chai, Ramah Camps, The Arava Institute, the JCC Krakow, NY’s Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, Chai Lifeline, Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, World Jewish Relief and every single Jewish genetic disease, including some you never heard of.
“We have seen the future, and it has two wheels,” said Elvis Fingerpull, CEO of the North American Jewish Federation of North American Jewish Federations. “No one comes to our dinners or golf outings anymore because they are either on bicycles or on Facebook sponsoring other riders.”
Armstrong Lanzman, an accountant in Merion Station, Penn., has personally logged 60,000 miles and raised $2.1 billion for various Jewish causes, including a playground for his synagogue. “I am constantly asking friends to sponsor me when I go on a bike ride,” he said. “I think they are really glad to see me go.”
The trend is not without controversy, however. In 2016, hundreds were injured when the JNF “Sore Knees for More Trees” ride crashed into Chabad’s “Rollin’ for the Rebbe” ride at an intersection near Beit Shemesh, Israel.