160 Ride from Auschwitz-Birkenau to JCC Krakow in 2017 "Ride For The Living"

On June 23, 2017, 160 Ride For The Living participants, who came to Krakow from all over the world, cycled together from Auschwitz-Birkenau to JCC Krakow united by one goal: to celebrate the revival of Jewish life in Poland. Led by the Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich, they embarked on a journey that in the end took them way beyond the 55 miles (90 km) they biked. To all of those involved – international and local riders of different backgrounds and various religions, staff, volunteers, and members of the local community – this was a highly emotional, meaningful, and inspirational event.

Jewish presence in Poland is often seen by the world only in terms of the country’s tragic past. Ride For The Living remembers Jewish history and honors victims of the Holocaust, but also acknowledges and supports the miraculous rebirth of Jewish life in Poland today. The Ride sends a message of hope, resilience and perseverance. As the Riders cycled away from the place forever marred by the horror and violence of the Shoah, they came together as a strong and supportive group to show the world the inexhaustible will of the Jewish people to move forward, and build for the future regardless of how bleak the past may be.

The Ride For The Living was proud to welcome numerous notable participants this year, namely U.S. Ambassador to Poland Paul Jones, U.S. Consul General of Krakow Walter Braunohler as well as two celebrated professional cyclists: Dan Craven, a two-time Olympian and multiple-time Namibian national champion, and Yoav Bear, a two-time Israel national champion. Robert Desmond, Ride For The Living Chair, rode alongside his father, Richard Desmond, and led the UK delegation in cooperation with organizational partner World Jewish Relief.

And for the third consecutive year, the Ride had the honor of having Marcel Zielinski and his family participating. Marcel Zielinski, an Auschwitz-Birkenau survivor in his eighties who now lives in Montreal, first joined the Ride in 2015. After the camp’s liberation in 1945 he had traveled the same route on foot, as a child in search for his parents and his old home. By then Zielinski had already lived through the horrors of the Krakow ghetto, separation from his family, and slave labor at Plaszow and Auschwitz-Birkenau. Marcel says he participates in the Ride not just for himself but, as he puts it: “the most important thing for me is to do it...for the people who are going to ride,” especially the young people.

Source: JCC Krakow