פרשת ויקהל/פקודי

שבת החודש
Shabbat Vaykhel/Pikudei

Shabbat HaChodesh

25th of Adar, 5780

March 20th-21st, 2020


Candle lighting: 6:50 PM    

Havdalah: 7:51 PM


TIME:  6:40 PM on Zoom.

In keeping with the shiur discussion last night, the Kehilah will be offering people the opportunity to daven their own private tefilah with the space to recite Kaddish for all zoom participants to answer.

While the tefilot will be tefilah b'yechidut, people saying mourner's Kaddish will have the opportunity to recite Kaddish with their community joining on zoom.


Sunday-Thursday: 6:50 PM

Join us for daily Mincha/Maariv on Zoom

We will have Mincha/Maariv davened privately but with the opportunity for Kaddish.

Please note:
This week, Mincha b'yechidut will take place at 6:50 pm
followed by a Mishna, Kaddish, Maariv b'yechidut,
followed by Kaddish. 

As explained by R' Najman, this position of Kaddish being recited via Zoom is due to the unusual circumstance of the COVID-19 pandemic, given that people are practicing social distancing and putting Pikuach Nefesh above all else, by staying indoors.
This position does not allow d'var sh'ebikdusha during the Tefilah without a minyan present.
This position of the recitation of Kaddish with a quorum of 10 men on zoom is not to be understood or used as a long term p'sak. 
This p'sak is only enforced during this unusual predicament people find themselves in during the
COVID-19 pandemic.

This position, following the p'sak of Rav Eliezer Melamed and the opinion of Rav Benny Lau, permits mourner's kaddish to be recited by a virtual minyan answering amen. 
However, if a person would like to daven l'chatchila without recitation of Kiddush, one should do that.
This p'sak is meant for those individuals who feel they would benefit saying the words of Kaddish and confirmeing that it is not considered a Bracha l'Vatalah.

May the need for this leniency be lifted soon and may we hear b'surot tovot.

For more information, please contact R' Najman at 

     Guidelines for Social Distancing in our Riverdale Community:

Dear Riverdale Jewish Community,

As the coronavirus crisis grows, we consider it our most basic duty to share the further guidelines for us all to practice to help save lives - to best ensure the welfare of each of us and each other.  This document was prepared by doctors and community representatives based on national guidelines. 

Social Distancing: At first, COVID appeared to be limited to certain travelers or individuals.  It has now spread randomly in the community.  Please keep this in mind as you read the information that follows. 

To slow the spread of COVID-19, the CDC has encouraged us all to practice "social distancing." Social distancing is a public health strategy that aims to reduce the encounters healthy people have with those who have a communicable disease like COVID-19.  Remember, more than 80% of people with COVID-19 will not have symptoms or the illness will be very mild.  Additionally, there are also people who think they have the flu or a cold, but actually have COVID-19. These people will be walking around with COVID-19 and it can be spread directly to you if they cough or sneeze. Additionally, the virus will be on their hands and passed to door knobs, counter tops, etc.  By keeping your distance from others, you decrease your chances of being exposed.  

Please read and consistently follow the guidelines below.  More information and background follows at the end of the document. 

May we be blessed with healing and strength,

Rabbi Steven Burton, Congregation Shaarei Shalom

Rabbi Steven Exler, HIR – The Bayit 

Deann Forman, The Riverdale Y

Rabbi Aaron Frank, Kinneret Day School

Rabbi Thomas Gardner, Riverdale Temple

Rabbi Shmuel Hain, YIOZ of North Riverdale/Yonkers

Rabbi Tully Harcsztark, SAR High School

Rabbi Simon Hirschhorn and Rabbi Noah Aronin, Hebrew Home at Riverdale

Rabba Sara Hurwitz, Yeshivat Maharat

Rabbi Barry Dov Katz, Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel of Riverdale

Rabbi Binyamin Krauss, SAR Academy

Rabbi Jonathan Kroll, SAR High School

Rabbi Dov Lerea, Congregation Beth Aharon

Rabbi Dov Linzer, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Rabbi Dan Margulies, The Riverdale Minyan

Rosh Kehilah Dina Najman, The Kehilah of Riverdale 

Rabbi Joseph Robinson, Riverdale Jewish Community      Partnership (an initiative of Riverdale Y)

Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Chabad of Riverdale

Rabbi Linda Shriner-Cahn, Congregation Tehillah

Rabbi Dovid Zirkind, Riverdale Jewish Center

Social Distancing Guide

Below is a quick guide to what you should not do, what you should do with caution (remembering the 6-foot rule and washing or sanitizing your hands frequently) and things you can do with relative safety. 

Please note: the following guidelines apply to those who are feeling healthy, have no underlying “at risk“ conditions, and are younger than 60 years old, based evidence of those who are at higher risk from COVID-19.  If you are sick, have one of the “at risk“ conditions, or are 60 years old or older, CDC’s and other guidelines are clear that you should stay at home. This more restrictive approach for these populations, especially people older than 60 who feel healthy and well, can be tremendously burdensome and challenging. But we truly view this as what each of us can do to help save lives.


Do not:

  • Gather in groups, including for such life cycle events as weddings and funerals, and home or synagogue minyanim

  • Have sleepovers or playdates or hang out with friends (of any age) 

  • Play sports with non-household family members 

  • Have meals with friends and neighbors

  • Do any non-essential driving with others (except household members not in quarantine)

  • Have non-essential visitors or workers in your home

  • Spend too much time in stores or places of business for any reason, get in and out as soon as possible

  • Go to malls or crowded stores 

Do with caution:  

  • Shop for groceries quickly and not in crowded stores, and shop during off peak hours when the stores are less crowded; opt for delivery by phone or utilize internet orders if possible

  • Pick up a prescription at a pharmacy (if you cannot arrange for delivery)

  • Go to work only if you must

In each of the above cases, try to keep to the 6-foot rule, wash or sanitize your hands frequently (especially as soon as you get home) and consider changing and washing your clothing upon returning home


Safe to do:

  • Go for a walk or a run.  Even if you live in an apartment building you can go outside and get some fresh air (keep in mind the 6-foot rule, and wash your hands frequently)

  • Ride a bike

  • Play in the backyard with household members not on isolation (if you live in a house), or sit outside on your balcony (if you live in an apartment)

  • Go for a drive with household members (if not in quarantine)

  • Cook a meal or bake together as a family

  • Work from home

  • Exercise at home

  • Meditate

  • Connect with others by phone, text, WhatsApp, FaceTime, Zoom



1) What does it mean to be in isolation?

In isolation, you should have no contact with anyone unless absolutely necessary.  This is reserved for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 because they have the greatest likelihood of spreading the disease.

2) What does it mean to be in quarantine?

Quarantine is in order when someone has been exposed to COVID-19.  Because people can transmit the disease before they have symptoms, in quarantine you should restrict yourself to your home and have contact only with individuals in your home.  You should do your best to stay 6 feet from each other and you should not share utensils, beds, cups, etc. with them.  

3) So how does social distancing differ from quarantine?  

Quarantine is when you are restricted to your home and can be in contact only with those living there with you.  Social distancing allows for minimal movement in the community if you focus on reducing contact with others.  One of the main ways of doing this is by avoiding events and crowds, reducing meetings and other gatherings to a few members, working from home with video and phone meetings as necessary, and keeping a safe distance of 6 feet with anyone you are with for longer than 6 minutes.  

 If you do go out, try to stay 6 feet away from others.  If you live in an apartment, try not to touch handrails or other items in the stairwell and avoid crowded elevators.  In all cases, use hand sanitizer frequently and wash your hands thoroughly as soon as you return.  

Not easy, we know!!  But during this uncertain time, when we are all looking for ways to help out and keep our community, friends and loved ones healthy, social distancing is something simple we can all do.  It is a selfless act that saves lives.

4) How is the Coronavirus spread?

COVID-19 appears to be spread via respiratory droplets, and mainly from person to person. This means that with a cough or a sneeze the viral particles may directly spread to another person or fall to the surrounding surfaces or the ground. The particles travel generally no more than 6 feet, therefore the “six feet rule.”  The virus can live on some surfaces for many hours, so someone who touches those surfaces and then touches their face, especially their eyes, nose and mouth, may introduce the virus into their system.  That is why cleaning surfaces, frequent hand washing and minimizing touching the face is crucial.

5) Where can I learn how to protect myself and more about social distancing?

The CDC has a very clear website on actions to be taken to protect yourself and your family.  The recommendations on this site are very much a part of what social distancing is about. 

Click here to view this useful web page.  Additional information about COVID19 and social distance from the New York City Department of Health can be found here

6) Coming Home from a flight abroad or separate community from areas with active transmission (like Israel, New York, New Jersey, Florida, etc):
These individuals are recommended to self quarantine for 14 days - symptom free.  If possible, they should sleep in separate locations and keeping at a safe distance from others in the home.  Many individuals are arriving home from schools abroad. As difficult as it may be to resist hugging and kissing grandparents or any relative who may have their health seriously compromised from catching COVID-19, please refrain from doing so


 Patronizing Local Establishments

We are fortunate to have a thriving group of Jewish institutions and kosher stores and restaurants in the Riverdale community. Many business owners and institutions are currently or potentially facing challenging times as we are not able to support their establishments in the ways that we usually do.
Let's make a strong effort to continue to patronize them.
When we return to our normal routines, we are going to need and want them to continue serving our community.


Rosh Chodesh Nisan, 5780

Rosh Chodesh will be:
This coming Wednesday evening, March 25th
through Thursday, March 26th daytime.


On Wednesday evening, 1st of Nisan:
In Maariv:
-Ya'aleh v'Yavo in Shmoneh Esrei

On Thursday, 1st of Nisan:
In Shacharit:
-Ya'aleh v'Yavo in your Shemoneh Esreh
-Half Hallel after Shacharit Shemoneh Esreh
- No Tachanun
- No Lam'natzaiach
-Musaf for Rosh Chodesh
-Barchi Nafshi

In Mincha: 
-Ya'aleh v'Yavo in Mincha Shemoneh Esreh
-No Tachanun

Throughout the month of Nisan we do not recite Tachanun.

Chodesh Tov!!!

Image result for fruit tree


Starting in the month of Nisan, there is a bracha
"ברכת האילנות" (the blessing over trees in Bloom),
which is recited.

Rosh Chodesh Nisan marks the beginning of the season for Birkat haIlanot. This Bracha  is recited only once a year extolling Hashem's renewal of creation each year.


When one sees blossoming fruit trees for the first time during the month of Nisan, one should say this blessing:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱ-לֹקינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁלֹּא חִסַּר בְּעוֹלָמוֹ כְּלוּם וּבָרָא בוֹ בְּרִיּוֹת טוֹבוֹת וְאִילָנוֹת טוֹבוֹת לֵהָנוֹת בָּהֶם בְּנֵי אָדָם.

Translation: Blessed are You, L‑rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has made nothing lacking in His world, and created in it goodly creatures and goodly trees to give mankind pleasure.

Early Sources for this Bracha:
This bracha is spoken about in many early sources, like Brachot 43b, Rokeach (pg. 235), Or Zarua (1:179), Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim, 226), Aruch haShulchan (226:1) and many others.

When to say this Bracha?
The best time to recite this bracha is the first time seeing a fruit tree in bloom during the month of Nisan.  Meaning:  Upon seeing the actual blooming or flowering of the tree.  According the Mishna Brurah, seeing the leaves grow is not enough to recite the bracha - one must see the budding or flowering.  
However, where trees start to bloom in Adar or where they begin to bloom in Iyar or Sivan, the bracha can be said then.  In the countries like Australia, where fruit trees blossom in Tishrei or Cheshvan, the blessing should be said at that time.

If there was a tree which began to bloom in Nisan but a person did not see it until later, he or she may make the bracha the first time he or she has seen the tree, provided that the fruit of the tree has not ripened.  Once the fruit is ripe, the bracha can no longer be recited.
- Along those lines:  If someone saw a tree in bloom but forgot to recite the bracha or was unable to say the bracha, one may say the bracha at a later time, provided that the fruit of the tree has not begun to grow.

Some poskim maintain that this bracha should not be recited on Shabbat or Yom Tov since it may lead to shaking or breaking the branch off the tree.
However, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 336:10) states that we may smell the Hadas attached to a tree on Shabbos, since we are not concerned that the branch will be broken off.  Therefore, most poskim permit saying the bracha on Shabbat or Yom Tov, since we are not concerned that a person will break off a branch while reciting the bracha.
Even for those who customarily recite the bracha only during the week, if the last day of Nisan falls on Shabbat, the Yechave Da'at (1:2) says that one may recite this bracha on Shabbat.

- According to the Tzitz Eliezer (12:20-6), Rav Eliezer Waldenberg, this bracha may be recited at night.

Which Trees require Birkat HaIlanot?
Only on fruit bearing trees.

Even if a tree does not bear fruit and a person said it on that type of tree, he or she does not need to repeat the bracha.

There is a disagreement if one can make the bracha on an Orlah tree (a tree that is not fully 3 years old). Many poskim permit it.

Reciting the Bracha During a Shmita Year:
It is allowed to recite the bracha on a tree during the Shmita year, even if the tree was cultivated and in violation of the Shmita laws.

How Can I Make the Mitzva of Birkat HaIlanot More Beautiful: Hiddur Mitzvah?
1.  Make the bracha on two or more trees ( the two trees do not have to be from different species).
2. Saying the bracha in a the presence of a minyan followed by Kaddish.
(Before hand, V'yehi Noam followed by the Psalm 143 is recited).
3. Trying to say the bracha as ealy as possible (From Rosh Chodesh Nisan)


Chodesh Tov!

Dear Kehilah Members and Friends, 

After a series of shiurim, and based upon overwhelming communal interest, our Kehilah has now expanded the roles for women during Kriyat haTorah.

Women and men are called to the Torah for aliyot and participate in reading from the Torah. 

If you would like to read from the Torah on any given Shabbat, please click
here to sign up to lein on our google sheets.

Now more than ever we need your support, and we encourage you to renew your membership with the Kehilah for 2020 today.
In addition to our basic membership of $500, we are introducing a new Chai Membership of $1,800
If you believe in the mission of the Kehilah, if you are excited about the dynamic programming changes, we encourage you to support us. 


Finally, we also ask that you to consider renewing your membership for 2020 soon. 

Now more than ever we need your support.

In addition to our basic membership of $500, we are introducing a new
Chai Membership of $1800.

If you believe in the mission of the Kehilah, if you are excited about the dynamic programming changes, we encourage you to support us.

Thank you for your generous past support and we look forward to seeing you THIS SHABBAT, February 22nd.

Rosh Kehilah Dina Najman
President Jonathan Konovitch

A Short Vort for Shabbos:  

Shabbat HaChodesh/Parshat Vayakhel / Pikudei

In addition to the reading of Parshat Vayakhel/Pikudei, it is Parshat haChodesh.  One of the 4 Parshiyot. Chazal decreed that Parshat haChodesh be recited on the Shabbat before Rosh Chodesh Nisan or on the Shabbat of Rosh Chodesh Nisan. Our Rabbis taught that forced labor in Egypt ceased on Rosh Chodesh Nisan. In this month of our national freedom from slavery, people were given the capacity to have mastery over their own time and set the Jewish Calendar. Since we follow a lunar calendar where the seasons are determined in relation to the sun, Pesach would rotate among the seasons. However, the Sanhedrin’s power to add a month (7 times in a 19-year cycle), ensures that Pesach always coincides with spring. In keeping with the pasuk in Devarim, perek 16, pasuk 1:  
שָׁמוֹר, אֶת-חֹדֶשׁ הָאָבִיב, וְעָשִׂיתָ פֶּסַח, לַה' אֱלֹקיךָ:  כִּי בְּחֹדֶשׁ הָאָבִיב, הוֹצִיאֲךָ ה' אֱלֹקיךָ מִמִּצְרַיִם--לָיְלָה. 
Guard the month of spring and make a Pesach to Hashem your God because in the Month of Spring, Hashem your God took you out of Egypt by night.
This perhaps informs Rav Shimshon Rephael Hirsch's statement:  "Only free men and women can worship God."

The moon waxes, wanes and waxes renewed every month, in the same way Israel, no matter to what level of physical slavery and to what spiritual poverty it may be brought, nevertheless it arises anew and never can be destroyed.
Rav Hirsch celebrates this moment of HaChodesh for free people where “God took this race by the hand and showed them the gleam of the new-born moon. This renewal of light is not only up there in the sky, but calls each person in Israel to their own fresh illumination, to their own human spring. So, He spoke and made the most oppressed and grief-laden race into the joyous heralds of hope to mankind, the announcers of deliverance from darkness into light, from slavery to freedom and from death to life.”

Hence, each year we experience a rebirth of our people on Rosh Chodesh Nisan.  

As this is also the week of Parshat Vayakhel/Pikudei, a time where we appreciate the coming together and volunteer work of community in the building of the Mishkan, we take note of our exceptional community who have come together in the service of all those in need and to help prepare for the needs that will come.  We have demonstrated over the past few weeks how we are able to come together, support and care for the other.  This value of peoplehood is true to the season of Nisan.  Each year, at this time, we reexamine our commitment to our people and celebrate each year with the replanting, rebirth and rebuilding of a people.  It is with great hakarat haTov for all you and our religious, lay and organizational leadership have done to guide us and give us the opportunity to support each other and blossom forth as a strong community.

Shabbat Shalom.


This Week's Parshat Comic: by Sam Weingard
Why Now?
This Riverdale event was originally scheduled to take place in the home of Jeff and Michelle Kobrin next weekend.

Given the current situation, we were unsure if we should move forward with a virtual event, but something changed our minds. Many of our agunot are in a more dire position than ever. Some of ORA's callers are home with their abusers.

While so many aspects of our lives are on hold, the work at ORA has only increased. ORA needs your support now more than ever.

Please join us for a virtual evening of learning, and hear from an incredible lineup of advocates, survivors, and professionals.

Although we are sad that this event cannot take place in-person, we are grateful that this provides an opportunity to welcome the entire community to join in this evening.

We hope to "see" you there! Please click 
here for the Zoom info.

Wishing you strength during this challenging time.
We are thinking of you during this challenging time. If you are struggling with the divorce process, we're here to help. Please call us at (844) 673-5463 or email us at
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Sunday, June 7, 2020
at the home of Joyce Marcus
629 Kappock St.
Riverdale , NY 1046
Presenter:  To be announced

We will discuss “The Jews of Harlem”
By: Jeffrey S. Gurock

The Jews of Harlem follows Jews into, out of and back into the renowned metropolitan neighborhood of Harlem over the course of a century and a half. It analyzes the complex set of forces that brought several generations of central European, East European and Sephardic Jews to settle in Harlem, and it explains the dynamics that led Jews to exit this part of New York.
Gurock has populated his book with fascinating tales of Jewish Harlem’s development with all people, Jews and African Americans who gave the community life and vitality.
We look forward to seeing you on June 7th.
Ruth Licht-
Sherry Najman
If you would like to share an important part of the book, we’d love to hear your opinion.

Mrs. Lucy Lang to receive the Lotte Bravmann z’l Eishet Chail award 

The  Riverdale Jewish community is honored that our longtime founding member and benefactor Mrs. Lucy Lang  will receive the prestigious Lotte Bravmann z’l Eishet Chayil Award at the UJA gala Heart Matters Dinner : Tuesday, March 24, 2020 6:00 PM  at Gotham Hall. Couples and individuals are welcome. 25,000 of us stood up to anti-Semitism at the “no hate no fear” rally in January.  Now join UJA to stand up and stand together with the Jewish community once again and raise vital funds for the security of our Jewish institutions throughout the area. We’ll honor 4 extraordinary individuals whose leadership and vision have helped build and strengthen UJA and our greater community - Alisa Levin and Chuck Nathan, Al Bernikow , and foremost among them are very own Lucy Lang. For more information,  reservations, or Journal ads, please follow this  link (—-), or contact Adrienne Rubin-Prince at RubinPrinceA@UJAFEDNY.ORG or (212) 836-1674.
Upcoming Communal Events:

Riverdale Run 2020
The Riverdale Y will be hosting its annual community-run on May 17, 2020. This year the proceeds will go towards funding our Inclusion Program. Save $10 by registering with our Early Bird Special! Bring your entire family, your neighbors, and building residents for a fun-filled day. Alongside the run, there will be an assortment of local vendors and activities available. To register, please visit

All In: Inclusion Program
All In is an inclusion program open to participants of all abilities for ages 6 - 16. This allows participants to engage with other peers as they learn to improve their social and communication skills through activities. The programming can include Sports, STEAM, Dance, Music, Arts, and Social Skills. This 10-session program runs from February 23 - May 3. To register, please visit

Maccabi Games
The Riverdale Y is happy to announce our plans for two great JCC Maccabi experiences this Spring and Summer. We're excited to be a co-sponsor of these games right in our backyard! We are planning to send a delegation that includes boys, basketball, and ideally girls basketball as well. For more information, please check out our website at



Dear Friends,

The Riverdale Mikvah is making a few more changes in order to ensure everyone's continued health and safety, and enabling people to continue to fulfill this mitzvah.

As such, the Riverdale Mikvah will move to an appointment only model every night. This will allow us to stagger usage and run the pool filters between each use.

Please use this link to make your appointment. If you need a spot that is not available for a personal or medical reason please call the Mikvah. We will be sure to do our best to accommodate everyone’s needs.

Please do all Mikvah preparations at home. There will be no prepping at the Mikvah.
When possible, please come with your own personal robe and towel. However, the mikvah will continue to supply these items if needed.

If you or anyone in your household has a fever, any respiratory symptoms or are experiencing any other signs of illness, we ask that you not make use of the mikvah at this time. If you are in quarantine, you may not go out to use the Mikvah.

Of course, as always, please consult your Rav and physician with any specific questions you might have.

Riverdale Mikvah Committee



Looking for a  Haggadah to bring to your seder or give someone as a gift?

The Kehilah's very own Sharon Marson has authored a wonderful Haggadah:

More Than Four Questions:
Inviting Children's Voices To The Sede

" . . . at the other extreme is the clean, accessible and progressive More Than Four Questions by Sharon Marson. Wittgenstein once imagined a religion comprising nothing but jokes. Well, More Than Four Questions is a Haggadah (or Haggadah supplement) comprising only questions. More Than Four Questions is an ingeniously contrived book with 50-odd pages of questions for children and adults, blank spaces for kids and grownups to write their answers and, on the reverse side of each page, actual answers by actual kids, as well as reflections from classical and contemporary sources. More Than Four Questions met an unwritten standard of mine: I gave it to my sister for use at the “kids’ Seder” with my nephew and his friends. It’s a useful companion to the Seder, and the adults’ reflections are, like the in-jokes on “Sesame Street,” enough to keep your own mind churning while you fulfill the Seder’s injunction to teach the story to your children."
- Jay Michaelson, The Forward
"I loved reading through Sharon Marson's new guide to our hagaddah. I rethought basic questions that had lost their meaning to me and I did this because she pushed me to open my heart and mind with an extreme gentleness, through her enormous humility and disarming manner, to re-experience a connection to goodness, holiness, kindness, purposefulness, and be helped through the process with the voices of our children. What a beautiful enhancement to any Seder and really for year-round."
 - Rabbi Binyamin Krauss, Principal SAR Academy


The Haggadah is available on: 
in Riverdale's local 
Riverdale Judaica book store.  

Pick up your copy today! 
An Environmental Message

Choose the right grass for your climate. 

If your area gets very little rain, don't plant a type of grass that needs a lot of water. Select grass seed that is well suited to your climate and other growing conditions such as the amount of sunlight and rain you lawn receives. Over-seed your lawn each Fall by spreading seeds on top of the lawn. A thicker lawn helps to crowd out weeds. Your local County Extension Service can advise you on which grasses grow best in your area.

For more information, go to:

Interested in Sponsoring a Kiddush at The Kehilah?

Please contact our Kiddush Coordinator,
Nahum Palefski at:
Copyright © 2020 The Kehilah, All rights reserved.

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