Ruth Shakenovsky and her son Richie, on a motorbike in Sydney, Australia.

We have a son living in Australia who ever since childhood has had an adventurous streak in his make-up – so it is no wonder that at age 50 he still enjoys motorcycling on Sunday mornings with his group of like-minded Jewish motorcyclists.

A few days after arrival in Sydney on our last visit there,

members of “Yidden on Wheels”, the Jewish motorcycling club in Melbourne, were motorcycling from Melbourne to Sydney for the weekend and were to join the Sydney group on the Sunday morning for a joint outing. My son thought it would be a great idea for me to accompany him on his motorbike for the morning and which idea he repeated a number of times. However I remained unsure whether he was serious or not. I was therefore more than relieved when I awoke to a rainy Sunday morning . After numerous telephone calls it was decided to cancel the outing with the Melbourne visitors as, not being famililar with the twists and turns in the country roads, it might have made the outing risky. I could relax!

But when the rain stopped a few hours later and Richie suggested a ride, my urge to experience a motorbike ride got the better of me and I agreed, provided the ride was only around the block. My daughter-in-law suggested that we go and visit a friend of mine (Lola) who lived a few suburbs away, to which I grudgingly agreed. Richie then appeared in full motorcycling regalia and brought for me a thin nylon raincoat and a helmet which his 5 year old son wore when he was treated to a lift on his dad's motorbike to nursery school in Johannesburg some 15 years ago!

So off we went, me clinging to Richie for life with my head buried in his back. After being on the road for some 10 minutes I realised that we'd passed Lola's suburb and when I put this to him he casually remarked: “We'll stop there on the way back.” As we progressed further I gained a little confidence and raised my head to look around me but the helmet slipped down over my face so that when Richie asked: “Isn't the scenery beautiful?” I had to sheepishly reply that I couldn't see anything - the helmet had dropped to below my nose! We stopped, he adjusted the helmet, by which time I felt confident enough to hold the side handgrips from which Richie assured me I could adjust the helmet myself with one hand and keep one hand on the handgrip.

So on we went and I must admit that by then I was thoroughly enjoying the experience and even when the rain began to fall I was quite happy to continue. We returned almost two hours after our departure. I was dripping wet but highly exhilarated by my first ever outing on the back of a motorbike – in fact it was fantastic!

Back home some weeks later Richie told us that their group decided that they ought to give themselves a name and had adopted my granddaughter's suggestion of “Hillel's Angels”.

I am wondering what my son has in store for me on our planned visit to Sydney for Rosh Hashanah later this year – provided we can get through the mountain of visa application forms successfully.

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About the author

Ruth Shakenovsky

Ruth Kramer was born in 1931 in Germiston, South Africa. She attended primary and high school in Germiston and studied at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg. In 1952 she married Henry Shakeno...
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