What it means to be a Chai Rider

I am a long-time a member of the Chai Riders Motorcycle Club of NYC, now living in Miami, but still a member. Comments were posted recently on the forum, to the effect that the CRMC is a motorcycle club first. Yes and no....

I strongly believe the Chai Riders (and all Jewish MCs for that matter) are much more than that. In fact, every time one observes a group of Jews with any kind of purpose, one will find that the group often goes beyond the original purpose. Why? Simply because we are Jews! We are built in a way that is inquisitive, always looking for more thinking, arguing, and extra purpose. That is why we constantly progress and often lead the way.

Now, a brief personal background to understand my points. I am a Sephardic Jew, born and raised in Morocco, which has always been (to this day) very protective of the Jews. And yet, not everything was always rosy in terms of individual freedom, by a long shot. In the mid-sixties we emigrated to France, where, as a teenager, I was confronted with genuine anti-Semitism, latent, vicious, and very present.

With that in mind, I am jumping to the day, about 15 years ago, when we, the Chai Riders, were on the NJ Turnpike on our way down to the R2R at the Holocaust museum of Washington D.C. We stopped for lunch on a large and very busy rest-stop. After lunch, several members said: “Hey, guys...time to daven!”. And right there, a minian formed and started praying, in the middle of that crowded rest stop!!!

Due to my past, I was at the same time flabbergasted and extremely moved by what this meant to me. In France for example, you could never think of doing anything remotely close without getting brutally assaulted.

And so, my personal conviction is that Jewish motorcycle clubs – think of a giant “MINIAN” on motorcycles - carry a very important symbolic meaning on top of biking. Jewish clubs affirm loud and clear that: We are here and we are not afraid, without arrogance. In one word, we are proud Jews, and we are good people with or without motorcycles.

That is why, even though I now live in Miami, I will keep paying for my membership as long as I live in order to support the CRMC of NY.

Ride safe my friends. You're all special. Michel Benarrosh

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