Motocycles and cupcakes

Ellen Futterman

By Ellen Futterman, Edtior

They have names like Chai Riders, Jews that Cruise and Shalom n’ Chrome. Yes, that’s right, I am talking about Jewish bikers, big-time motorcycle enthusiasts. Hillel’s Angels. Like religion, they are even organized.

In fact, the Jewish Motorcycle Alliance (JMA) is a worldwide association that includes biker groups in the United States, Canada and Australia, representing over 600 Jewish motorcycle enthusiasts (see story on Page 14). The common thread is religion; however, membership or admittance to member clubs is not dictated by faith or a brand of motorcycle. Riders of any denomination or brand of bike are welcome, according to organizers.

New Mt. Sinai Cemetery advertisement

The St. Louis chapter “Wandering Twos,” was begun by Steve Aroesty — lawyer by day, Harley-Davidson Sportster rider by night. “After going to a couple of JMA conventions, I wanted to get something started in St. Louis,” Aroesty explains. “So I started Wandering Twos here a couple of years ago, playing off two wheels of a motorcycle and the wandering Jew idea.”

One of the first recruits was Debbie Fremerman, an Orthodox friend of Aroesty’s who works as an administrator at Block Yeshiva High School. She accompanied Aroesty to a JMA convention in Omaha, Neb. four years ago, along with another couple. Fremerman grew up in nearby Lincoln, Neb. and had ridden motorcycles as a kid.

“I like the camaraderie of the group and meeting new people,” says Fremerman, who rides her Honda Shadow when the local chapter gets together about twice a month. “I just don’t ride on the Sabbath,” she adds.

The local chapter has about 30 active members, says Aroesty adding that “generally, there are about 10 to 15 of us on any given ride.”

Both Aroesty and Fremerman were among a small St. Louis contingent that participated in JMA’s seventh annual convention at Virginia Beach, Va. in May. About 300 cyclists showed up for a weekend that included wine and music festivals as well as escorted and self-guided rides through scenic Virginia and Maryland.

“One of the things I like best (about JMA) is the diversity (of its membership),” said Aroesty. “You’ve got hardcore Harley guys who are very serious to people who ride trikes and scooters. There’s a lot of variety, from 20-year-olds to 80-year-olds, married and single, observant to ultra-Reform. That’s what so great. It’s a Jewish organization that cuts across all lines.”

In addition to the bi-monthly rides, Aroesty and Fremerman try to schedule programming around the Jewish holidays. During Sukkot, the group rode bikes to visit various sukkahs around town. During Purim, members rode to the annual parade in University City.

“We just hosted the Chicago chapter of Chai Riders,” says Aroesty. “We went to dinner at Cunetto’s in the Hill and did some great rides to the wineries, along the River Road. It was great fun.

Next year’s JMA convention will be held in Toronto, marking the first time the event will be held outside the United States. “St. Louis was in the running for the convention next year,” Aroesty reports. “We lost to Toronto by only two votes.”

For more information about the local JMA chapter, email [email protected]

A pencil a day

Suzanne Epstein-Lang is a terrific neighbor. I should know. She lives next door to me.

She also happens to be a tireless volunteer, who along with her two young daughters, is trying to scrounge up as many pencils as she can for the Back-To-School! Store, which is sponsored by National Council of Jewish Women’s St. Louis Section and set for July 24.

Lang is quick to point out that collecting pencils is not a sanctioned part of the Back-To-School program but rather a grass-roots effort to donate to NCJW. In her blog at, she writes about the excitement she felt as a child – and her own children feel – picking out brand new pencils for the school year, along with other supplies. But what about children who can’t go to Target for pencils and other supplies, she wonders? That’s why she began her “personal pencil project” to gather as many as she could to give out at the Back-To-School store.

So if you have a few pencils to spare, email her at [email protected] to arrange a time for her to pick up your pencils. She’s hoping to collect 12,000.

A gallant effort

Kudos to former Jewish Light board member and all-around good guy Paul Gallant on receiving the Community Service Award from the William T. Kemper Foundation – Commerce Bank and the Commerce Banshares Foundation. At a reception held in his honor Tuesday and attended by more than 100 people, Gallant was awarded two checks, each for $5,000, made out to two non-profits, Gateway to Hope and GO! St. Louis.

Gallant served as the first board president for Gateway to Hope, which provides comprehensive health care at no cost to uninsured or underinsured individuals with breast cancer. GO! St. Louis is the sponsor of the area’s marathon as well as other healthy lifestyle and fitness events and school-based programs. Gallant helped start the organization and has been its board chairman since inception.

Congrats Paul.

Hot cakes

Chefs Casey Shiller, Certified Executive Pastry Chef, and Dana Holland of Jilly’s Cupcake Bar & Café in University City are slated to appear in the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars,” airing at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 28 (and re-broadcast several times). Shiller and Holland will compete against three other teams for a $10,000 grand prize.

Jilly’s Cupcake Bar & Café, which is owned by Jill Segal, is reportedly the first St. Louis-based business to appear on “Cupcake Wars,” as well as the first team in the show’s history to represent a business from the state of Missouri.

The episode is titled “The Final Frontier,” as it explores an outer space theme where bakers compete to have their tasty treats at a VIP party honoring the first man in space. For more information, go to