Ride for the Living 2023

Danny Schwartz, The Detroit Jewish News

All the proceeds from the Metro Detroit ride go to the Krakow Jewish community and its JCC.

The ride to honor our shared Jewish heritage is back! The 2023 Ride for the Living (RFTL) takes place Sunday, July 9, at 8 a.m.

The community event, hosted by the Jewish Federation of Detroit’s Israel & Overseas Department, is a satellite ride done in conjunction with the ride that happens every year in Krakow, Poland.

The JCC Krakow’s Annual RFTL is a 34.5-mile bike ride from the gates of Auschwitz-Birkenau to the JCC in Krakow that commemorates the Holocaust and Jewish history and celebrates the miraculous rebirth of Jewish life in Poland today.

Federation’s corresponding ride — which is approximately 30 miles — is Jewish Detroit’s own way to commemorate and celebrate. All the proceeds from the Metro Detroit ride go to the JCC Krakow and the Jewish community there.

The loop-around journey will start at Ferndale’s Gerry Kulick Community Center, ride all the way to the Detroit Riverfront and finish (at one’s own pace) at Ferndale Project for food and drinks and an opportunity to sit, reflect and enjoy.

The round-trip ride is for riders of all ages and skill levels. Everyone from Slow Rollers (avg 11-12 mph), Cruisers (avg. 13-15 mph) and Chasers (avg. 16-18 mph).

RFTL Chair Ron Sollish says the event is an opportunity to get together in a different environment, schmooze and enjoy one another’s company, but it’s also much more.

“In the same way the RFTL in Krakow celebrates the rebirth of Krakow, we look at our RFTL as a celebration of the rebirth of Detroit,” Sollish said.

Sollish says the yearly event is enjoyed by both returning and new faces, bringing kids and other family members along with them.

“We are all about inclusivity. Anybody that wants to participate can participate,” Sollish said. “And this is not a race. Nobody’s there to see how fast they can do it. We’re really there to enjoy this and enjoy it collectively.”

The past year or so has been particularly important for the JCC Krakow and Krakow, having played an instrumental role in assisting Ukrainian refugees.

“I think 200,000 people passed through the area, and they were actively involved in supporting those refugees,” Sollish said. “I hope people can find it in their heart to find a few extra dollars to contribute, because it is truly going to support Ukrainian refugees as they have been displaced as a result of the war.”

Sollish hopes in the future, a group from Detroit will participate in the Krakow ride.

“There are a tremendous number of satellite rides, (but) no one is doing what we’re doing,” he said. “Detroit stands all by itself as to the sheer size and nature of this event. This is just another area where Detroit shines and leads, which we’re very proud of.”

Participants must fill out a waiver form before registering for this ride. The registration fee ($36) includes a RFTL fanny pack and one drink voucher. Register at https://jlive.app/events/4203.