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Sons of Israel plays key role among Jewish bike clubs

A Sons of Israel meet-up at  Temple Beth Or in Washington Twp.

By Marshall Weiss, The Dayton Jewish Observer

In the two years since its founding in Dayton, the Sons of Israel motorcycle club and its president, Ron Wynne, have taken significant leadership positions with the Jewish Motorcycle Alliance.

Wynne is membership coordinator of the five-year-old JMA, an international organization for Jewish bikers, with the goal of promoting Holocaust education.

“JMA was founded by several individuals who are first-generation removed Holocaust survivors,” Wynne says.

He is also on the JMA board, on the organizing committee for JMA’s Ride To Remember in Savannah, Ga. and Charleston, S.C. May 14-17, and will co-chair next year’s Ride To Remember to the newly opened Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, scheduled for May 13-15, 2010.

He says the JMA Midwest Meet and Greet which the Sons of Israel hosted in Dayton Feb. 27-March 1 literally put the local group on the map.

“It was a phenomenal success,” he says of the weekend, which included a tour of Prejudice and Memory, the Holocaust exhibit on permanent display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

Twenty-two Jewish bikers belong to Sons of Israel across southwest Ohio, from Cincinnati to Columbus.

Wynne says Sons of Israel got its start in 2007 following the screening of Harley, Son of David, a film about Jewish biker groups, at the Dayton Jewish International Film Festival.

During the Q&A with a Jewish biker from Chicago after the film, Wynne said, “I’ve been riding all my life and I’m the only Jewish biker in Dayton.” He says he found out “real fast” that wasn’t true.

“Marty Bodzin starts waving his hand and before you know it, we had five people together: myself, my son Matthew, Marty Bodzin, Lenny Kreitman and Ryan Levin.”

Wynne says the group has grown to 22 members.

“We do a bikers and bagels breakfast followed by a ride almost every Sunday. We meet at Beth Or and take off from there. And Beth Or has been very good to us. We’ve done a sukkah hop both years, we’ve done a Tu B’Shevat ride, and for this year, at least once a month, we want a Judaically-based ride.“

Worldwide, JMA has 33 clubs with approximately 4,200 members.

“We’ve got new clubs coming in southern and northern California,” he says. “Those are just big clubs. There are lots of Jewish guys out there riding.”

For last year’s Ride To Remember in Omaha, JMA raised $62,000 for the Heartland Holocaust Endowment Fund to support Holocaust education programs at the University of Nebraska.

The 2009 Ride To Remember will support two projects: a Holocaust lending library at the Savannah Jewish Federation, and the Remembrance Project of the Charleston Jewish Federation.

All JMA members are asked to raise funds for these projects.

“If you’re Jewish and you ride a motorcycle, you ought to belong,” Wynne says. “If nothing else, it gives you the network if you’re traveling on your bike. It has been a growth experience for me, personally.”

Wynne and his wife, Mindi, were riding his motorcycle back from the Ride To Remember last year when the rear tire blew at highway speed, just south of Peoria, Ill. Both spent five days in a hospital in Normal, Ill.

“We got fruit baskets from literally every club in the JMA,” he says. And, they’ve made a fine recovery.

For more information about the Sons of Israel and the May 14-17 Ride To Remember, call Ron Wynne at 529-9076.

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