Breastfeeding at: the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale

Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in Riverdale, Bronx, New York, USA

Breastfeeding in the Sanctuary:

It is permitted.  One mother writes that “My first time in the shul I saw another woman nursing during kabbalat shabbat who was clearly a regular so I made an assumption which has never been challenged.”

It becomes more comfortable as the community’s ease becomes more evident.  Mostly I stick to out-of-the-way parts of the sanctuary, near the back, to breastfeed.

Private Nursing Locations:

There is a separate space for breastfeeding privately.  It is called a nursing room,  however the room itself does not have a sign or label on it.  Asking around will find someone to show it to you.  (Either staff or a member of the synagogue)  People also make an effort to tell nursing mothers hat it is available without their needing to ask.

It contains 1 glider chair.  There is no other chair in the space if a second mother needs to nurse at the same time and wants a quiet place to do so.   There is an ample supply of diapers in several sizes, wipes and a fold-down changing table, a garbage pail, a sink and a mirror.  It is in the basement, near the stairs, across from the elevator, which does operate as a Shabbos elevator on Shabbat, making the space accessible on Shabbat to those with wheelchairs or strollers.  It is also open/unlocked during the week.  The door locks but some women seem annoyed when a nursing mom actually locks the door.

Other Information:

This community is very comfortable with breastfeeding during all sorts of events an programs, including tot shabbat, brit milah,  simchat bat, and a funeral.  Women nurse all over the synagogue, some with a cover and others without, without comment.

There is no information/signage visible about breastfeeding policies either in the synagogue or its website or bulletin.

General  Child Friendliness:

There are changing tables in both women’s and men’s bathrooms on the main floor, in the nursing room in the basement, and in the family/children’s bathroom on the third floor  Strollers are generally parked in the lobby, or brought to the lower level during Tot Shabbat.  Supplies for babies/children can be left in the coatroom.  Children’s presence is welcomed in the main service and the noise is generally not an issue, but every once in awhile a congregant will complain.  Toys are welcomed, noise is the thing that can cause complaint.  More complaints seem to happen at the 7am (“Shalom Bayit”) minyan.


This synagogue received general ratings of:

  • “Good, could make small improvements”- 2
  • Good, could make small improvements- 2
  • Bad, I avoid it if I can- 6
  • Good, could make small improvements- 2

out of 7, where 1 was the best rating and 7 was the worst.

Contact information

Rabbi Steven Exler at

Rabbi Ari Hart at

Rabbah Sara Hurwitz at

Rabbi Emeritus Avi Weiss at

Synagogue website:


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