fbpx
Thursday, August 13, 2020

Riding on the Right Side of the Law

Enjoying this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

On the road to the hard-knock Israeli town of Ramla, between the small town of Kfar Chabad and the smaller moshav of Beit Dagan, there’s a bar where bikers come and park their hogs.

It’s called Bonnie Design, and it’s equal parts watering hole, social club and shrine to all things Harley-Davidson. It’s here that Barak “Doveleh” Moskowitz, a hardcore member of the Israeli motorcycle gang Zion Riders, parks his custom bike each day. (A friend gave Moskowitz the nickname “Doveleh,” Hebrew for “Little Bear,” and it stuck.)

He doesn’t come to drink, although he’s always happy to join his friends at the bar. Moskowitz says he has been sober since 1991, when at the age of 26, he joined Narcotics Anonymous, embraced its 12-step program and gave up the drugs, booze and petty theft that had marked his previous decade.

He doesn’t really come to chat, either, although Moskowitz is laid back and generally loves to talk.

For Moskowitz, the real reason to come to Bonnie Design is the dog that lives along the way.

“I have one dog and two cats at home,” Moskowitz said, “but I also have a dog near Ramla. He’s been tied up his whole life. He’s a big dog — very nasty. He’s chained up in a field. So every day I bring him food.”

Moskowitz is a study in contradictions: a tatted-up, road-hardened biker who greets friends with a grin and double kisses on the cheek; an ex-con who cuddles up at night with a rescue pup and who spends hours each day at a trendy vegetarian cafe in the heart of posh Tel Aviv.

Moskowitz has a name for the dog in the field: “Gingy,” because of his reddish fur. He would love to take home the animal, he said, but unlike Moskowitz, Gingy can’t be tamed.

“He’s a murderer,” he said. “He would kill anyone. He would kill my dog and my cats, but with me, and only me, he is OK. I understand him and he understands me, too.”

Moskowitz was born not far from Gingy’s field, in the Israeli town of Ness Ziona. He first tasted crime as a teenager, stealing cars and motorcycles with packs of friends who would hang out and cause trouble along Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv.

A few years later, while completing his mandatory three years in the Israel Defense Forces, he was stationed in a jeep with three other men at the Quneitra crossing between Israel and Syria. It was Oct. 6, 1973, and his commander wanted to make an omelet on the jeep’s hot plate. He ordered Moskowitz — the youngest and lowest ranking among the quartet — to head over to the unit’s makeshift kitchen tent to grab some olive oil.

A few seconds after Moskowitz scrambled out of the vehicle, a Syrian strike took out the jeep. Moskowitz survived, but the guilt shattered him.

“Three people died in one place, but I didn’t. For sure it was luck,” he said. “And that’s where it all started. I started taking opium, and then I started to live on the street.”

For years, Moskowitz was caught up in a cycle of crime and punishment. He served multiple stints in prison for theft. He lived illegally as a squatter.

He had a son while in prison, and before Moskowitz got out, his wife took the child and left. He says he held the baby once, when the boy was 8 months old. He says he hasn’t seen the child since.

The suffering, he said, “got too much,” and in 1991 he bade crime, drugs and alcohol goodbye. He started to earn a legal living by buying and reselling vintage items and antiques. Today, his closest and most genuine family, he said, is the Zion Riders, Israel’s answer to the Hell’s Angels.

He is a fixture at Cafe Xoho, the vegetarian Tel Aviv cafe popular among olim, Anglos and the gluten-free, raw-food and vegan set. He loves it there, he said, and this past summer he rode his Harley down to the Negev desert to attend the wedding of the cafe’s owner.

Last year, knowing he could never bring Gingy home with him, Moskowitz  rescued a black Labrador puppy named Sunny. He can’t bring Sunny on his bike with him, but in a few months, he said, he is going to purchase a motor home to drive around the country. Sunny will travel with him, wherever he goes.

These days, Moskowitz is recovering from gastric bypass surgery, which he had because of developing diabetes, and he is meeting weekly with his 12-step group to offer support and to help him stay clean.

“We sit and we talk about everything,” he said. “People like me, we are many thousands in Israel.” 


Debra Kamin, an American journalist living in Tel Aviv, is a regular contributor to The New York Times Travel section, and her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, Time magazine, Town & Country and Variety.

Enjoyed this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Latest Articles

Letters: Lessons From History, Liberalism and Free Speech

Lessons From History Natan Sharansky and Gil Troy reveal quite well the Jewish approach to history (“Taking a Jewish Approach to History,” (July31). One question, though,...

Florida State Announces Measures to Combat Anti-Semitism, Including Adopting IHRA Definition

"My university leadership team and I will continue to work determinedly to combat Antisemitism and unlawful behavior," the Florida State president said.

No Animals Were Harmed in the Writing of This Poem – a poem for Torah portion Re’eh

you may eat meat, according to every desire of your soul. Hello! Vegetarian poet speaking. I’m here to tell you my soul is conflicted about its many...

Israel Gives Up a Huge Headache for a Huge Victory

With UAE deal, in return for Israel halting its plans to annex parts of the West Bank, the UAE will launch full diplomatic ties with the Jewish state. This is a sea change.

The Female Hamas Terrorist Living Large in Jordan

In a 2006 interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Esther Shushan described the Aug. 9, 2001, Hamas suicide bombing at Jerusalem’s Sbarro pizza restaurant...

Jewish Series’ Successes Stave Off Complete Jew-Hatred

Who would have believed that Jews on TV would take so many minds off COVID-19?

‘Unorthodox’ Secrets Revealed

The Variety Streaming Room presented an exclusive virtual interview celebrating the Netflix limited series “Unorthodox.”

Culture

‘Unorthodox’ Secrets Revealed

The Variety Streaming Room presented an exclusive virtual interview celebrating the Netflix limited series “Unorthodox.”

Ari Axelrod on His ‘Celebration of Jewish Broadway’ Cabaret

Any anti-Semite who gets up and sings “God Bless America,” that is a song written by a Russian Jewish immigrant.

Spread Kindness by Leaving Art Around Your Neighborhood

Are you ready to be your neighborhood’s secret art giver? You’ll soon agree that the only thing better than creating something is sharing it.

Beanie Feldstein Set to Play ‘Harriet the Spy’

She will voice the curious 11-year-old title character in “Harriet the Spy,” for Apple TV+

‘Shtisel’s’ Michael Aloni to Star in ‘The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem’

Aloni will next lead the cast in Yes TV’s adaptation of “The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem,” a multi-generational, historical story.

Latest Articles
Latest

Letters: Lessons From History, Liberalism and Free Speech

Lessons From History Natan Sharansky and Gil Troy reveal quite well the Jewish approach to history (“Taking a Jewish Approach to History,” (July31). One question, though,...

Florida State Announces Measures to Combat Anti-Semitism, Including Adopting IHRA Definition

"My university leadership team and I will continue to work determinedly to combat Antisemitism and unlawful behavior," the Florida State president said.

No Animals Were Harmed in the Writing of This Poem – a poem for Torah portion Re’eh

you may eat meat, according to every desire of your soul. Hello! Vegetarian poet speaking. I’m here to tell you my soul is conflicted about its many...

Hollywood

‘Dirty Dancing’ Sequel Starring Jennifer Grey Announced

It’s official: A “Dirty Dancing” sequel is coming, and it’s starring Jewish actress Jennifer Grey, who played Frances “Baby” Houseman in the 1987 original.

Roy Moore’s Lawsuit Against Sacha Baron Cohen Over Being Pranked Can Proceed, Judge Rules

By the time the episode aired, it was widely known that Cohen was punking public figures.

Podcasts

Jacob Poushter: On the Global God Divide

Shmuel Rosner and Pew researcher Jacob Poushter discuss his latest study, which raises the question: Is belief in God necessary for good morals? Jacob Poushter...

Monthy Recap: Criminal (in)Justice, Virtue Flagging and Why Seth Rogen’s Wrong

Naor and Eytan talk about the events that took place in Israel during the last month.   RSS Subscribe Two Nice Jewish Boys · #205 - Monthly...

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

x