During a time of extended, extraordinary hardship and loss, it may seem insensitive, callous, even risky to discuss “bougie” exercise equipment like Peloton or getting a vaccine. We hope that this brief amalgam of thoughts is received in the spirit in which it is intended; namely, of myriad connections that sustain us, and of the deep resulting gratitude (Hakarat ha Tov).

WGF/DS Alum Rabbi Jenny Solomon (Class 10)

Here’s the thing about Peloton, or sports in general, and leadership. The classic distinction between the Hellenistic focus on fitness and the body versus the Jewish focus on body (Hakarat ha Guf), spirit and the mind (Hakarat ha Nefesh) is a cautionary one. However, there is an abundance of research demonstrating how exercise fuels the mind and spirit. Not only does exercise release a flood of positive hormones and energy into your day, it trains us with the tools we need to handle our leadership challenges: endurance, discipline, finding those last reserves and unleashing them. Experts of all kinds speak about the COVID-related psychological toll of blurred boundaries (working and eating and living and educating our kids all from home), the disruption of our normal routines (every day is Wednesday or Shabbat), and the resulting disorientation we feel (at best). When you add to that the stress of not being able to see family and friends, economic downturn, worry for our country and the world, feeling out of control…most of us have not felt we have been our best selves during this past year. We’ve tried to signal hope and done our best to shore up the communities we love, but it has been a heck of a long-distance ride.

As leaders, we, first of all, have to get our game back and psychologically put on our life jackets so we can help others. The needs are larger now than ever. Additionally, we have to take time for self-love and balance while we all navigate this very strange challenge, something none of us were prepared for, neither in scope nor length. So yeah, Peloton may be off putting to some, but riding has kept us not just sane, but productive, optimistic, grateful and reminds us how to tap into our fierceness when we must. What we all miss and seek is community. There is no substitute for our in-person experiences, but being part of a virtual community of like-minded Jewish leaders has given us some comfort and also led to unique and fortifying connections even off the bike.


WHP Alum Shari Brandt (Greater MetroWest 15) celebrates 1,000 rides on her bike.

Almost three years ago I was fortunate to serve on the Wexner Heritage Alumni Council, representing Miami, long before Covid or Peloton were part of the English lexicon. A few fellow council members mentioned working out at the hotel gym and traded cycling stats on Peloton. I was considering one as a gift for my husband’s upcoming 60th but had no idea what it entailed. Enter the Howards: Wexner Heritage Program Alumni Howard Kaplan (Cincinnati 13) and Howard Zack (San Francisco 2), my respected and knowledgeable elders who assured me to get the bike. “You won’t regret it!” Kol Howards Kavod!! How right they were in every way. They were my first pelo-verse friends. I posted something in the Wexner Members and Alumni Facebook Group and, boom, the amazing Maxine Schwartz (Greater MetroWest 15) joined and got in touch, and we put a bunch of triple-A-triple-threat-high-octane-take-no-prisoners Jewish leaders together—so many of them already were in the Peloton community, no surprise there….

When the platform expanded its hashtag riding community, we coined #pelowex which currently hosts 26 members. One of the amazing things to me is that I don’t know these individuals (every member is only identified by Peloton name) but I have great affection for them; I am especially tickled by the names in our group that have “rabbi” in them. Somehow rabbis on bicycles is a great symbol for the continued dance we Jews do with tradition and modernity. We welcome Wexner rabbis and everyone else in the network. We would love to grow our small #pelowex startup. It is a great extension of the Wexner connections that fuel us with motivation and hope, knowing that we go farther together, albeit on a screen.

Many more people are on Peloton now than when we last made a push, so please do join us at #pelowex and jump on actually or digitally as we try to ride together as a tribe. There is a group ride on Tuesday, April 6th at 9:30 am EDT– we picked the 7th day of the Omer, Gevurah sh’b’Gevurah (strength in strength) would give us some great juju (or Jew Jew?!). The class the team will be riding to is Ally Love’s 30 Minute Sundays with Love from 1/31/21 [12pm].

Even if you don’t have a Peloton, join us in spirit that day – let us know if you are riding outside or treating yourself to some other form of self-care – we will be rooting for you.

Get To Know The Author

WHP Alum Moj Khaghan (Miami 11), is the incoming JCRC chair at the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, a long-time board member, former vice chair of the Public Health Trust of Jackson Health System, Florida Bar Grievance Committee member, board member of the Housing Authority of City of Miami Beach, as well as City of Miami Beach Budget Advisory Committee chair.