Approximately 50 people at the JCC of Greater Baltimore at Owings Mills rode in solidarity with 85 bicyclists at the Ride for the Living, a 55-mile fundraising ride that began at Auschwitz-Birkenau and ended at the Jewish Community Centre in Krakow.
In the JCC spin class studio in Baltimore, with photos posted on the wall of Krakow participants for incentive, instructor Ann Berey led one of five classes the JCC devoted to the ride last weekend. Over loud driving music, Berey encouraged participants to “imagine you’re biking with them, look at their faces and get a visual.”
“I rode in memory of my grandparents, because they raised me,” said Galina Shkolnik, whose grandparents are Holocaust survivors. The Pikesville resident of more than 20 years brought family to the United States from Ukraine.
The Krakow ride, which honors the past Jewish history of the city and also celebrates Jewish life in Poland today, raises funds to help ensure the future of Krakow’s Jewish community. Last year’s participants raised enough to pay for Holocaust survivors from the Krakow JCC’s Senior Club to visit Israel. The group includes more than 100 survivors.
Amy R. Schwartz, fitness and wellness director at the Greater Baltimore JCC, said because they received the event information too late to send a cycling team to Krakow, they came up with the idea to dedicate spin classes to the cause and invite the community to ride in solidarity and raise funds that way.
Krakow’s Jewish Community Centre opened in April 2008 and serves as the focal point for the resurgence of Jewish life in Krakow. It has more than 550 members and holds programs for holidays, weekly Shabbat dinners and services, among other activities. It also offers five levels of Hebrew school classes, kosher catering and an on-staff genealogist.
“The Ride for the Living is important because Jewish life in Poland is flourishing,” Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich said in a statement. “Jewish communities around Poland are growing, and while we acknowledge our loss as a people here, we can’t focus on only the loss.”
Donations are still being accepted at crowdrise.com/BaltimoreJCCRideForTheLiving.