An avid cyclist who often rides his bike to work, it was only natural that when UMass Hillel Executive Director Rabbi Saul Perlmutter was looking to raise funds for alternative spring break trips for students, he would organize a community-wide bike ride. Now four years later, Ride to Provide is an annual event that brings cyclists together to raise funds and to enjoy a scenic bike ride through Amherst.
This year, despite the troubled economy, the Ride raised more than $37,000 for Hillel. The money will go toward alternative community service winter and spring trips. In the past several years, Hillel students have traveled to areas in need of assistance - including New Orleans and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina, and Israel where students worked in underprivileged neighborhoods and with the Ethiopian community to restore apartment buildings and plan community gardens.
In addition to Ride to Provide, as executive director of the Hillel House for more than 35 years, Perlmutter has helped UMass Hillel grow from an office in the Student Union to a three-story building and a true home to many Jewish students at the school.
He received the New England Regional Office of the Anti-Defamation League's 2002 Tischler Confronting Anti-Semitism Award for helping to rally the community against a series of anti-semitic incidents in Amherst that spring.