The Women's Tefillah of Riverdale was founded in
December, 1979 as a monthly prayer service.
Our tefillah is an important opportunity for women to meet the challenge of Jewish spiritual
expression and become full participants in prayer. We also regard the tefillah as a
learning experience to enable women to better understand prayer and make the study
of Torah more meaningful.
In our group women daven together, read from the Torah, and lead the services. We
follow the traditional Shabbat morning services and, according to the halacha,
omit any D'varim Sh'Bekedushah,- prayers that require a quorum of ten men. Our
halachic authority is Rabbi Avraham Weiss of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale.
THE ORDER OF THE SERVICE
P'sukai D'Zimrah begins the service with Birchot Ha'Shachar, the morning blessings,
and psalms. Shacharit, which begins with Shochen Aad and includes the Shema and
Shemoneh Esray, culminates in the taking out of the Torah for the K'riyat Ha'Torah,
- weekly reading. In our service, the responsibility of reading the Torah is
shared by a number of women.
The weekly reading is divided into seven portions. For each portion a woman may
volunteer to receive the honor of being called up for an Aliyah to recite the Brachot,
or Torah blessings before and after the portion is read. It is customary to have a Bat
Kohen, daughter of a Kohen, called up for the first aliyah, and a Bat Levi, daughter
of a Levi, to come up for the second Aliyah. The remaining five Aliyot are distributed
among B`not Yisrael, daughters of an Israelite.
One woman stands on each side of the Shulchan, the table on which the Torah is set. One serves
to call up each Olah in turn, using her Hebrew name and the Hebrew names of her parents, and
after the closing Bracha, recites a Mi'She'Berach, a blessing for her and her family. It is
the other Gabbai's responsibility to carefully follow the Torah reading and correct the reader if necessary.
An extra Aliyah is reserved for a person who reads the weekly Haftorah portion, a selection from the Prophets.
For this Aliyah, the last section of the seventh portion is repeated.
Mi`she`berach L`Cholim (Blessing for those who are sick) The first Gabbai leads the congregation
in this opportunity to recite a special blessing for the recovery of sick people during the
Torah service. Birchat Ha'gomel A person who has survived a potentially dangerous or life
threatening situation offers a prayer of thanksgiving. The types of events could include a serious
illness, completion of a journey, or childbirth.
BLESSINGS WHICH WE OMIT
The Women's Tefillah does not constitute a Minyan or Quorum, which can only be made up of
10 or more men. Therefore we do not recite any of the prayers that require a Minyan, namely:
Kedushah during the repetition of the Amidah, Kaddish for mourners, or Barachu.
Before or after the Torah reading, one of our congregants delivers a brief talk, usually directed
to themes found in that week's Parshah (weekly portion) or Haftorah reading.
THE MUSAF PRAYER
Musaf, the additional service for Shabbat, is preceded by the returning of the Torah to the Aron,
or Ark. Musaf begins with the second silent Shemoneh Esrai. The service concludes with Ein K'Elohainu,
Aleinu, and Adon Olam. It is our custom to invite the pre-Bat Mitzvah girls who are davening with us to lead in the singing.
Towards the end of the service we ask for volunteers to take various parts for the following month's service.
ZEDAKAH OF THE MONTH
It is the custom of our Women's Tefillah Group to donate money from our treasury to a different charitable
organization each month. At the conclusion of our service we describe the charity selected for that month
and encourage our members and visitors to add their personal contributions after the Shabbat.
Families and friends are invited to join in a Kiddish following services.
The kiddish is usually sponsored by one of our members in celebration
or commemoration of a special event.
THE BAT MITZVAH SERVICE
Many young women have chosen to celebrate their becoming a Bat Mitzvah with our
Women's tefillah. The main honor is to receive an Aliyah. They may also lead the service on a Shabbat or a week-day, read from the Torah or Haftorah, and/or deliver a D'var Torah. During our Tefillah the male family members and guests are invited to join the Bat Mitzvah services for the Torah reading and D'var Torah. Men may enter after the Torah has been taken out of the Ark and are asked to leave after the D'var Torah, before Musaf begins.
It is customary for the parents of a Bat Mitzvah girl to recite the traditional
Baruch She'Petorani, a statement which acknowleges the passage of responsibility from the parent to their daughter.
Women of all levels of Jewish background are warmly welcome to our services.
We meet once a month on Shabbat morning, 9:15 A.M. at the Hebrew Institute
of Riverdale. Our regular participants offer home hospitality to out of town
guests, and will gladly teach any of the skills needed to take part. For
further information contact Ronnie Becher, tel: (718) 884-1935.