The Shmooze

Synagogue Welcomes Biker Rabbi

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen

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It may be the first time that a rabbi is officially welcomed to his new synagogue on two wheels.

Joined by his mentor and congregants both new and old, newly ordained Rabbi Eytan Hammerman will bike from the synagogue where he spent the last two years as a rabbinic intern, to his new one 30 miles away, where he will have his own pulpit.

Hammerman will set out with Rabbi Gordon Tucker and fellow travelers from Temple Israel in White Plains, N.Y., by reciting the prayer for travelers, tefillat haderech. When they arrive at Beth Shalom, they’ll be welcomed by the town’s mayor and other local clergy, and plant a tree.

Teenagers from the new congregation will join him about 10 miles from Temple Beth Shalom in Mahopac, and the congregation’s toddler contingent will trike alongside for the last 100 feet or so, said Hammerman, who is 33 and the father of a 1-year-old and 2-year-old twins (who won’t be in the bike cart for this trip).

There will be a formal installation ceremony – “Hopefully without as much sweat,” Hammerman says – in November.

But on Sunday, once “Team Hammerman” arrives, “we’ll have some singing with our cantor and hopefully the kids in the community will remember the day that their rabbi came by bicycle,” Hammerman said. “I hope they ride me into town, not out of it!”


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