While many Orthodox Jewish men dress in black, the mask, cape and Batman costume Josh Aryeh wears is a little less typical. This is the getup he dons every week in order to give solace and entertainment to children with cancer and other chronic illnesses. “Ever since I was a kid I loved giving back,” explains Aryeh, a Long Island entrepreneur. “A few years ago I realized I had a lot of access to high-end cars… I thought to team up with Chai Lifelike, Kids of Courage- why not team up to see what we can do?” Since then, Aryeh has visited over 1300 children, giving them gifts, rides in sports cars to pizza, ice cream or bowling or just visiting them in the hospital to cheer them up. Growing up as a religious Jew, chesed was always prioritized in Aryeh’s home and school, so thinking of those less fortunate than him is second nature.
Aryeh soon discovered how deep the impact of his efforts was. “There was an eight-year-old girl who made a wish to go for a ride in a convertible Lamborghini. She had cancer since the age of 4 – half her life. But she was so happy. She got in the car, top down music on. I remember getting back to the house and they wheeled her back in. Her mother starts hysterically crying. [Finally she said] ‘You don’t understand…Its the first time I’ve seen my daughter smile since she was diagnosed.'” Aryeh was forever changed. “That’s when you’re supposed to be innocent. That’s unfathomable. It was something so simple but meant so much.” Aryeh then got the idea to incorporate the theme of Batman and the Batmobile. He had a Nissan GTR transformed into the Batmobile with the help of a customization shop and started bringing it to hospitals and treatment centers. The effect was immediate.
Since then, Aryeh, whose day job is as owner of the company Fruits in Chocolate, has made his hobby into an inspiration to others. Wealthy individuals who participated in exotic car clubs heard what Aryeh was doing and messaged him, offering him their cars to take to hospitals. “Kids make a wish to go for a ride in a Ferrari, Bentley, Rolls Royce…sometimes I bring the owners with me. It’s pretty amazing.” Fans of his work told Aryeh that he should publicize the good he was doing. So he started the Instagram page “Real Batman Account,” so his rides of chesed can be shared. He has since founded the charity Heroic Helpers.
“They get to forget what they are going through, feel normal and feel like a kid. They don’t just have the flu for a week or a month. They have intense pain and treatment for years. Those few hours we get to give them something else to think about.” When Aryeh started bringing presents to the children, certain stores found out and now won’t let him pay for the goods, insisting on giving it to him for free. Friends of Aryeh’s now join him regularly, dressed as other superheroes and Disney Princesses. “A lot of these kids truly believe that I’m batman. I brought Robin and Batgirl with me once and a kid said,”Where’s the rest of the Justice League? Oh if you’re all in here, they have to be out there making the world safe.”
Aryeh is excited to meet David Mazouz, who plays young Bruce Wayne on the show Gotham, at the 5th Annual Orthodox Jewish All Stars Gala this Sunday night in Manhattan. “Its very cool because I know the kids always talk about this show.” Aryeh is often able to bring his vocation and his passion together by creating custom chocolates with Batman logos. “I bring that with me when I go to the kids. It gives them another reason to smile.”
To meet Josh Aryeh and David Mazouz, buy your tickets to the 5th Annual Orthodox Jewish All Stars Awards Show and Premiere Party here!