The first thing is his son telling him he didn’t want to have a bar mitzvah. The second is riding a tandem bike 3,800 miles across the country with his wife, Djina, and children Yonah and Solomon.
Readers find out how one led to another in Biers-Ariel’s memoir, “The Bar Mitzvah and the Beast.”
Biers-Ariel was disappointed at the idea of not seeing his son go through the traditional bar mitzvah process of studying hard, leading the congregation in prayers and then enjoying a big reception, but he had another idea.
He wanted his son to have a rite of passage into manhood, so he packed gallons of Gatorade and bottles of ibuprofen onto a semi-reliable tandem bike nicknamed “the Beast.”
Biers-Ariel is both spiritual and environmentally conscious. To satisfy the latter, as he peddles through small towns and big cities alike, he asks for the people he meets to sign a petition calling for Congress to curtail global warming — a petition he hopes will bring the United States through its own rite of passage in terms of energy conservation.
This coming-of-age story shows how Biers-Ariel not only gave his son a unique and inspiring rite of passage, but also demonstrated how to stand up for what you believe in.