Date:  Tonight, Thursday, March 19th

Time: 7:30 pm

How Do I Join the Coversation?


Through Zoom:

Or on the phone:

1 646 558 8656

Meeting ID: 360 087 9294


- We will have a brief  dvar Torah for Shabbat given by R' Dina Najman

- Followed by Maariv b'y'chidut together on Zoom.

- Followed by a Kehilah Conversation

We will have an opportunity to ask questions and process some of the challenges our community has faced, is currently dealing with and potentially what lies ahead.  The conversation will be guided by R' Dina Najman and President Jonathan Konovitch.



May we continue to daven for a refuah sh'laima for those not well and for Hashem to keep us from harms way and well.

Wishing you all good health.

R' Dina Najman, Marta d'Atra
Jonthan Konovitch, President
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
There has been a Recent Halakhic P'sak from Rav Melamed to Rav Benny Lau Regarding Saying Mourner's Kaddish on Zoom.

Dear Kehilah Members and Friends,
There is no doubt that the closing of shuls and minyanim have left a significant and painful hole in lives of those who attend daily minyanim. For many who are saying kaddish for a loved one, the break in the consistency of this Kaddish have left many to profoundly feel its absence .  Part of the discussion taking place tonight will be dealing with the question of the possibility of saying mourners kaddish with a zoom minyan.  The other possibility will be saying Kaddish b'y'chidut. i am looking forward to discussing this with the community this evening.

For those interested, here is an article that recently came out go to:

OR a letter in Hebrew that I translated from an article in
Click here to see the article:  It is translated below.

May our tefilot and commitment to each other in our community serve to strengthen our connection with Hashem and each other.
R' Dina Najman


הרב אליעזר מלמד: "מותר להגיד קדיש במפגש וירטואלי"
הרב בני לאו מפרסם כי התייעץ עם הרב אליעזר מלמד לגבי אמירת דברים שבקדושה במפגש וירטואלי: "אמירת קדיש יתום וקדיש דרבנן אינם כוללים ברכה לבטלה ולכן ההתקשרות האלקטרונית הזו יכולה להיחשב לה כמעין מניין"

Rabbi Eliezer Melamed: "It is permissible to say Kaddish in a virtual meeting"

Rabbi Benny Lau announces that he has consulted with Rabbi Eliezer Melamed with regards to d’varim sh’b’kedusha in a virtual meeting: "Saying Mourners Kaddish and Kaddish D’Rabbanan does not include a bracha l’vatalah and therefore this electronic communication can be considered as a quorum."

התפשטות נגיף הקורונה מחייבת את הרבנים ופוסקי ההלכה לאתגרים מורכבים ומשמעותיים. הרב בני לאו, לשעבר רב קהילת רמב"ן בירושלים, פרסם בחשבון הפייסבוק שלו כי השתתף בתפילה קהילתית של קהילת יחד בתל אביב. כהכנה לתפילה שאל הרב לאו את הרב אליעזר מלמד לגבי קבלת הנחיות כיצד להתנהל במהלך תפילה באמצעות אפליקציית 'זום'.

The spread of the Coronavirus requires the rabbis and halachic rulers for complex and significant challenges. Rabbi Benny Lau, former rabbi of the Ramban community in Jerusalem, posted in his Facebook account that he participated in community prayer together in Tel Aviv. In preparation for prayer, Rabbi Lau asked Rabbi Eliezer Melamed regarding to receiving guidance on how to pray during prayer using the Zoom app.

הרב מלמד ענה כי:  
1. בגלל ספקות שונים בהגדרת "מקום" ובהגדרת "קול" אי אפשר להגדיר התקהלות במפגש וירטואלי (דרך זום) כמניין לכל דבר המחייב דברים שבקדושה.

Rabbi Melamed answered that:
1. Because of various doubts in the definition of "place" and in the definition of "voice" it is impossible to define a gathering in a virtual meeting (through zoom) as a quorum for anything that requires dvar Sh’bikdusha.


2. אמירת קדיש יתום וקדיש דרבנן אינם כוללים ברכה לבטלה ולכן ההתקשרות האלקטרונית הזו יכולה להיחשב לה כמעין מניין.

2. Saying Mourner’s Kaddish and Kadish D’rabbanan do not include a bracha l’vatala and therefore this electronic connection can be considered as a quorum.

3. בשעת הצורך, כאשר יש ערך לכך שכל הקהילה הוירטואלית תתפלל יחד, גם אמירת "ברכו" לאחר פסוקי דזמרה ולפני ברכות שמע אין בה ברכה לבטלה ולכן מותר לאמרה בתפילה שכזו.

3. When necessary, when there is a need for the entire virtual community to pray together, the saying "barchu" after the pisukei d’zimra and before the blessings of Shema has no bracha l’vatalal and therefore it is allowed to say in such prayers.


4. נפילת אפים – בירושלים נוהגים ליפול גם ביחיד, ובשאר המקומות נוהגים כך אם במקום התפילה יש ספרי קודש. לדעת הרב מלמד אפשר להחשיב התקהלות זו דרך הזום כמקום שיש בו ספרים.

 4. (Leaning on one’s weaker arm during Tachanun) - In Jerusalem, people usually lean on their arm even when davening alone, as well as in other places people are accustomed to do nefilat apayim if places of prayer have holy books. According to Rabbi Melamed, this gathering can be considered a group through zoom as a place with sefarim.


5. אמירת י"ג מידות – אם יש שם חזן שיאמר את י"ג המידות בקול ובטעמי המקרא, יכולים לומר עמו. 

5. Saying the 13 Attributes of Hashem  - If there is a Cantor who will say the 13 Attributes outloud and with the trop, one can say it with him.


6. כל זה לרוצים להדר בתפילה במניין, אבל מצד הדין בשעה שקשה להתפלל במניין אפשר להתפלל לכתחילה ביחיד. 

6. All this is for those who want to enhance their prayer in the minyan, but on the part of the law when it is difficult to pray in the minyan, one can pray l’chatchila alone.  

על פסק ההלכה של הרב מלמד הוסיף הרב בני לאו: "לגבי בידוד יש פנים רבות. אחת מהןהיא הערעור המוחלט של חווית ההתקהלות היומית לתפילה. מי שרגיל ללכת פעם ביום או שלש פעמים ביום לתפילה במנין חש בימים האלה סוג של שבר עמוק במנגנון ההפעלה". 

On Rabbi Melamed's halakhic ruling, Rabbi Benny Lau added: "Regarding isolation there are many perspectives. One is the absolute appeal of the daily gathering experience for prayer. Those who are used to going once or three times a day to prayer in a minyan feel these days a deep break in the operating mechanism.”

 לדברי הרב לאו, "יש פער די גדול בין השפה הדתית לבין השפה ההלכתית. בשפה ההלכתית התשובה מאד פשוטה - "פיקוח נפש" מחייב להימנע מכל התקהלות ולכן התפילה בציבור מתבטלת והוראת ההלכה מאלצת את כולם להתפלל בביתם."

 According to Rabbi Lau, "There is a pretty big gap between the religious language and the halakhic language. In the halakhic language the answer is very simple -"pikuach nefesh (saving a life) "requires avoiding any gathering and therefore the public prayer is canceled and the halakha teaching forces everyone to pray at their home."

 עוד הוסיף: "אבל יש שפה דתית. בשפה הזו יש צרכים פנימיים ורוחניים שמגיעים עד עומק ושורש הנפש. למשל - אדם נמצא בשנת האבל ומקפיד לומר קדיש בכל יום. בימי שגרה הוא מאלץ את כל הלו"ז שלו בצורה מטורפת ובלבד שלא יימנע מלומר קדיש. יכול מאד להיות שאותו אומר קדיש (או אומרת קדיש) בימי שגרה לא מקפיד כלל על תפילה במנין או אפילו על תפילה בכלל".


He added: "But there is a religious language. This language has internal and spiritual needs that reach the depth and root of the soul. For example:  A person finds himself in his year of mourning and is careful to say Kaddish each day. During his rougtine days, he moves around all of his schedule in a crazy way in order not to avoid saying Kaddish.  It may very well be that the Kaddish he or she says during his or her daily routine does not pay much attention to quorum or even prayer at all. "

וסיים "אבל הקדיש פועל על עולמו האינטימי בהתקשרות שבינו לבין ה', בחווית עיבוד האבל. בשפה ההלכתית קדיש היתום כמעט ולא קיים. הוא "נולד" במציאות היסטורית מאוחרת ומקומו בהירארכיה ההלכתית נמוך. אבל בשפה הדתית הוא נמצא למעלה וגבוה בסדר הקדימויות של האדם. לכן ביטול קדיש מעולמו של אותו אדם פוגע במשהו מאד עמוק ואינטימי".

And Rabbi Lau concludes "But Kadish works on his intimate world in the connection between him and Hashem, in the experience of mourning. In the halakhic language, the Mourner’s Kaddish hardly exists. He" was born” in later historical reality and his place in the halakhic hierarchy is low. But, the religious language, it is at the top and highest of a person’s priorities.  Therefore, removing Kaddish from that person's world hits something very deep and intimate. "

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