Freewheeling at Shabbat

By Jonathan Kalmus, July 10, 2014

At 11 o'clock on Shabbat morning, eyes in Leeds were on the Tour de France rather than the Torah.

The race's Grand Depart was taking place in the city, and synagogues held services early to allow congregants to daven and then watch Chris Froome and co ride by.

At the Etz Chaim synagogue, in the suburb of Alwoodley, Rabbi Shalom Kupperman and his congregants made kiddush and then joined spectators lining the route outside. Roads had been closed and only 50 members- half the usual number - had made it to shul.

Synagogue president Neil Frieze teamed up with the minister at next door's St John's Church to create a welcome banner for the riders. "The atmosphere was magnificent, surreal," he said.

Saturday's most dramatic moment, when Mark Cavendish crashed out of the closing sprint in Harrogate, brought fame to Jewish shop owner Daniel Buck.

Cavendish tumbled from his bike just outside Daniel's Footwear store, with TV cameras beaming images of the moment - and Mr Buck's storefront - to 122 countries. As he said: "It was the craziest Shabbat."

Last updated: 4:02pm, July 10 2014