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.

Summary:

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 ravsteven@thebayit.org

Rabbi Ari Hart at ravari@thebayit.org

Rabbah Sara Hurwitz at rabbasara@thebayit.org

Rabbi Emeritus Avi Weiss at ravavi@thebayit.org

Synagogue website: thebayit.org

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