Drs. Robert and Debra Rathauser and their family have been making annual trips to Israel for years.
However, this year’s excursion was particularly meaningful because it gave the Kendall Park obstetrician/gynecologist and his wife, a retired orthodontist, a chance to visit two of their three sons — and raise $5,000 for Alyn Hospital, a pediatric and adolescent rehabilitation center in Jerusalem.
The couple rode in the annual Wheels of Love Alyn International Charity Bike Ride Oct. 27-31, pedaling for four days of the five-day route from Emek Hefer near the Mediterranean coast to Jerusalem.
“Debra and I love bike riding,” said Robert. “We were able to unite our three passions—Israel, bike riding, and medicine. We raised more than $5,000 for Alyn Hospital, where the physicians, nurses, and staff perform their life-changing work.”
The Rathausers’ youngest son, Benji, made aliya about two years ago after graduating high school and is now serving in the Israel Defense Forces.
Jonathan, their oldest, received his undergraduate degree at McGill University in Montreal and is now enrolled in the start-up MBA program at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology in Tel Aviv. He also plays with the Israel Lacrosse organization, whose aim is to encourage youngsters to take up the sport.
“I noticed as I was planning our trip that we would be there at the same time the Wheels of Love ride was taking place,” said Robert, and the couple jumped at the opportunity to include the ride as part of their itinerary.
The Rathausers are active in the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County, and in addition to family trips, they have been to Israel on federation missions. They are members of Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick as and The Jewish Center in Princeton.
They bike regularly near their home and through nearby Hillsborough, Princeton, and Montgomery. Robert said he used to ride frequently when he was young, and Debra encouraged him several years ago to get back into the sport. This past summer they participated in a 300 kilometer — just over 186 miles — ride north of Montreal.
Three years ago they rode for the Arava Institute, an Israeli environmental research and development organization that brings together Americans, Israelis, Palestinians, and Jordanians.
Alyn, Israel’s only pediatric and adolescent rehabilitation facility, treats children with a wide range of congenital and acquired conditions, including cerebral palsy, neuromuscular diseases, spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, and burns, as well as victims of accidents and terror attacks.
Alyn offered four different options for bikers. The Rathausers chose the off-road route, a five-day excursion averaging 40 miles daily, but skipped the fifth day so they could attend a ceremony for Benji’s Givati brigade as he transitioned from his current position and headed off to a “commander course.”
“We hadn’t been able to attend any of his previous milestone ceremonies so we wanted to go to this one,” said Robert. The couple was also able to attend the wedding of one of Debra’s cousins while in Israel.