Michael Ferrand was born in New York City in 1961. He grew up in a Conservative Jewish home in Staten Island, where his family kept kosher. Growing up, he learned Hebrew and traveled to Israel, where he studied in a Yeshiva in the Old City of Jerusalem, called the Yeshivat Aish HaTorah. After spending some time in Chicago after a European bike tour, Michael moved to New Orleans, where the weather was warmer. In 1982, Michael moved to New Orleans, initially staying with friends, and became involved in the jazz scene in the city. In 1983, Michael opened Bicycle Michael’s, a full-service bike shop in the French Quarter on Royal Street. In 1999, the shop moved to its current location on Frenchmen Street. Michael still lives in New Orleans. He has two daughters who are involved with Jewish Community Center and attended Jewish Day School.
Michael describes his childhood in Staten Island, growing up in a Conservative Jewish home, where his family kept kosher and attended Beth Israel, where his mother was a founding member. He says his Jewish education and experience in Hebrew school mainly entailed memorizing the Hebrew alphabet and prayers, not understanding or analyzing the texts they were taught. For a year, Michael studied in a Yeshiva in the Old City of Jerusalem, called the Yeshivat Aish HaTorah, and gained a better understanding of Jewish history and literature. He traces his moves from a two-year bike tour of Europe to a short stint in Chicago before moving with friends to New Orleans, where the weather was more pleasant. Michael came down to New Orleans on a train from Chicago and never left. He recalls his first years in the city, living with friends, seeing as many jazz performances as possible, and then opening up his bike shop, Bicycle Michael, where he spends most of his time. He talks about the Jewish community in New Orleans, how his kids attend Jewish Day School and are involved in the Jewish Community Center, and how much he enjoys attending Anshe Sfard, an Orthodox synagogue in Uptown, New Orleans.