Jewish Motorcyclists Alliance gathers at San Diego Jewish Academy for Ride 2 Remember

Jewish Motorcyclists Alliance members arrived in San Diego as part of their Ride 2 Remember.
Jewish Motorcyclists Alliance members arrived in San Diego as part of their Ride 2 Remember.
(Luke Harold)

A throng of motorcyclists pulled up to San Diego Jewish Academy in Carmel Valley on Sept. 9 in support of the Butterfly Project, an initiative that educates children about the Holocaust and how to combat hate in all its forms.

Jan Landau, Project Butterfly co-founder, said to the children and bikers assembled in front of the school on a rainy Friday morning that it started with a “thought about what we can do to make this world a better place.”

“I think with all the kids here, it’s a testament to the fact that they’re learning about the past,” Landau said. “But they’re also having hope that if they treat people with respect and kindness, this world will become a better place for all of us.”

Ceramic butterflies that were each decorated by a student adorn the entrance to the school in memory of the 1.5 million children who died in the Holocaust, along with a sign that reads “From Holocaust ... to new life.” The school, located on Carmel Creek Road, serves students from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade.

Mike and Manya Wallenfels and Butterfly Project cofounder Cheryl Rattner Price.
Mike and Manya Wallenfels and Butterfly Project co-founder Cheryl Rattner Price in front of the ceramic butterflies that honor the children who died in the Holocaust.
(Luke Harold)

Jewish Motorcyclists Alliance members rode past that entrance as they lined up in front of the school at 9 a.m. as part of their Ride 2 Remember program. A second portion of the event took place later in the afternoon at Congregation Beth El in La Jolla.

Bob Cohen, president of the Jewish Motorcyclists Alliance, said in a letter to members before the ride that “the mountains, deserts and ocean side rides will be some of the most memorable” for riders coming from all corners of the country, and Canada.

Head of School Zvi Weiss told the assembled students, seated along the stairs at the front of the school, that the bikers “stand up for what they believe.”

Holocaust survivor Ben Midler, 94, who entered Auschwitz at age 15 and wrote a book called “The Life of a Child Survivor,” was also in attendance. The cover image shows a 17-year-old Midler, who is from Poland, shortly after liberation from the concentration camp.

Survivors Mike and Manya Wallenfels are from Hungary and Poland, respectively. They have spoken to schools, churches and other organizations about their experiences to keep the memories and lessons alive for future generations.

“After we tell them the stories, they say their lives are completely changed and they try to be better people and have a peaceful world,” Manya Wallenfels said.

“We have to tell the world,” she added.