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Tradition took a twist and a few turns Sunday morning as members of one of Chicagoland’s oldest reform temples showed a new rabbi around town.

Along an almost 8-mile bike ride through River Forest and Oak Park – detailed with stops for brunch – members of Oak Park Temple B’nai Abraham Zion welcomed Rabbi Max Weiss.

“The idea is to socialize,” said Oak Parker Deb Wolkstein, an organizer of the temple’s first such event. “There are three opportunities to mix,” Wolkstein said, referring to one stop for brunch in River Forest and two in Oak Park – all casual.

The socializing started at 9:30 a.m. Sunday as about 70 cyclists and the rabbi, on a bike himself, gathered on the Berkshire entrance to the temple, which is at 1235 N. Harlem. There, a representative of Active Transportation Alliance, a Chicago nonprofit that works to improve conditions for bicycling, walking and public transit, met up with the brunch-bound for tips on helmet fitting and a lecture on group-riding safety.

The first stop for nourishment was at Jonathan and Liz Simon’s home in River Forest.  Fruit headlined the menu here. Then it was south and east to Marsha and Ralph Cooper’s in Oak Park for bagels and yogurt.

At the busiest intersections, volunteers stood guard to help cyclists cross. Bike marshals, included a leader and a sweeper, rode with the group.

Dessert, to sweeten the ride back to temple, was at Beryl and Sander Greenberg’s home, also in Oak Park.

The ride not only gave members of the congregation the chance to get to meet and greet the rabbi, who hails from Hoffman Estates, but to catch up with one another, too.


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