It turns out that the world’s most famous bicycle race, the Tour de France, has an unlikely origin: It was a direct result of the notorious Dreyfus Affair.
The slightly condensed, rather confusing story goes something like this: When pro-Dreyfus Émile Loubet became president of the French Republic in 1899, he was attacked (and beaten on the head with a walking stick) by the passionately anti-Dreyfus Count de Dion, one of France’s major bicycle and auto manufacturers. De Dion was jailed for the attack, and the resulting scandal was featured prominently in the then-major daily sports paper Le Vélo (The Bike), whose editor, Pierre Giffard, was just as passionately pro-Dreyfus.
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.