Bais Sholom of South Riverdale

The first iteration of the SDC minyan came about when a Friday evening minyan was instituted in 1997 in the apartment home of Dr. Dovid Hoffman, and it quickly proved an attraction to neighborhood men.  After a few years, the minyan moved briefly to the home of Harry Junger, while occasional services were also held at the nearby homes of Rabbi Charles Sheer and Joseph Schabes.  Eventually, the minyan settled in at 535 West 231st Street, the home of Judge Mark Friedlander, a house which had a separate entrance for the minyan, and space for the participants which was separated from the rest of the premises.  The separation enabled the minyan to operate, and be managed by various persons, even when the homeowners were away, and thus the minyan established its makom kavua – the place where it could always be found. There it has stayed and flourished from 1999 to the present.

In 2000, the minyan was presented with the opportunity to use two sifrei torah (Torah scrolls), which were given by Rabbi Schulem Rubin zt”l, (Judge Friedlander’s father-in-law) to his daughter, Mindy.    The Torahs had belonged to Rabbi Rubin’s father, the saintly Rav Avrohom Dovid Rubin zt”l, who was the Lantzeter Rebbe of Crown Heights, and had been used for many years in his Chassidic Shtiebel.   Upon receipt of the Torahs, a special Aron Kodesh within an existing cabinet was designed and created by Chayim Ossip (who is also the designer of, and patent holder on, the “Ossip Table”).  Thereafter, a minyan for Shabbos Mincha and Maariv was added. 

In May 2001, the participants decided to formally incorporate, and filed a charter under the New York State Religious Corporation Law, using the SDC name.  The congregation also elicited recognition from the IRS as a 501( c )(3) organization.  Coincidentally, in June 2001, Rabbi Schulem Rubin was unfortunately niftar, and two steps were immediately taken to memorialize his contribution to the minyan.  The congregation adopted the alternate name of Bais Sholom of South Riverdale (the latter part of which served to identify the minyan’s location for those unfamiliar with the fact that “Spuyten Duyvil” is the old Dutch name for the same area), and new Torah covers were ordered for the minyan’s two Torahs, bearing the names of the Rabbis Schulem and Avrohom Dovid Rubin.

During the years to follow, the minyan often saw more than 50 men attending services, although the average usually ranged between 35 and 40 on Friday nights and slightly less on Saturday evenings.  The minyan served members whose established full-service shuls included the Riverdale Jewish Center, the Young Israel of Riverdale, the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, and Torah V’Chesed Nanash.   In response to those participants who asked for a method of joining and affirmatively signifying identification with the SDC, a membership class was created, with dues of $25 per year.   Various members have donated siddurim, chumashim, chairs, a shulchan for Torah reading, covers for the amud and shulchan, and taleisim.  A list of SDC property, and of current members, is posted in the shul.

During the last decade and a half, many members and attendees, usually those in rental apartments, have left the community, or have moved to homes in the farther reaches of Riverdale, always replaced by others who have moved here thereafter.  SDC counts alumni who number many dozens, and who sometimes return to Riverdale friends for a Shabbos, revisiting SDC to appreciate various improvements to the premises.   Several years ago, it was discovered that real estate brokers who were showing co-ops in south Riverdale to orthodox Jews made mention of the proximity of SDC as a selling point.