June 10, 2024
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June 10, 2024
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Riverdale Minyan Welcomes Rabbi Binyamin Lehrfeld

On August 2, Rabbi Binyamin Lehrfield became the rabbi of the Riverdale Minyan (TRM). Rabbi Lehrfield arrived in Riverdale after serving as the senior rabbi of Baron Hirsch Congregation in Memphis, Tennessee. Originally from Chicago and a fourth-generation rabbi, Rabbi Lehrfield explained, “Being a rabbi is in my blood. My great-grandfather, grandfather and father are all rabbis, and so it’s just obvious for me to continue that path. I’ve always wanted to serve the Jewish people. That’s been part of how I was brought up, and something I cherish and something I’m excited to commit my life to do.”

Through friends in the area, Rabbi Lehrfield had heard a lot about TRM and began conversations with its members and leaders. “We started talking, and they got me excited about their vision for the future, what they’re trying to build, the type of community and the culture that they have here in the shul. And I got excited about that opportunity,” he shared. “We think it’s an amazing community here in Riverdale. We’re excited to send our kids to SAR, one of the best, if not the best, day schools in the country.”

Rabbi Lehrfield admits he has previous relationships with many of the local rabbis. Rabbi Willig was his rebbe, Rabbis Hain and Zirkind are his very close friends, and he has crossed paths many times with Rabbi Exler. “That’s one of the things that really excites me; the ability to work with and partner with an incredible team here in Riverdale.” he added. “I don’t know if the community realizes just how amazing the rabbis are here in town. “Even though he has not had the opportunity to meet them in person yet, Rabbi Lehrfield has reached out to Rabbi Katz of CSAIR and Rabbi Gardner of the Riverdale Temple. “They just have been so delightful, welcoming and warm.”

Upon arriving in Riverdale, Rabbi Lehrfield tested positive for COVID-19. “I’ve been quarantining and isolating from my family, my congregation and the community,” he explained. “It’s been a challenge, but I’ve been able to see the warmth and generosity of the community; the phone calls, meals, text-messaging and emailing to myself and my wife. It’s just been overwhelming. When you’re an outsider moving somewhere new, you don’t know where you’re going to be and you don’t know who the people will be or what type of community it really will be. To be able to see that chesed, to see the strength of the amazing TRM community and Riverdale community embrace us like this, is just something so meaningful for our family.”

About a month ago, Rabbi Lehrfield had the opportunity to sit in on his first call with the Riverdale Y’s Jewish Community Partnership. “I was still in Memphis and I was very honored to participate. It was just awesome to hear about the amazing things that are going on.”

Rabbi Lehrfield noted, “It’s exciting for us to be back in New York. My wife’s family lives here in Riverdale, and my sister and brother-in-law live in North Riverdale. It’s really nice to be closer to family. I also feel like even after just being here for a week in quarantine, that we have an extended family already and we’re very excited by that.”

After studying economics and psychology at Yeshiva University, he received semicha from Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary and is in the final stages of completing his MA in Jewish Education from its Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education. He also earned an MBA in Finance and Human Resource Management from Baruch College.

In addition to enthusiasm for Jewish communal life, Rabbi Lehrfield is passionate about playing and watching sports, staying on top of new technology and hearing a good joke. He visits Israel regularly, especially Ma’ale Adumim, where his parents currently live.

Rabbi Lehrfield married Orit Kabasso in 2010 and they have three children. She studied adolescent education at Brooklyn College, and then completed her master’s in literacy education at SUNY Albany. This fall, Orit will be joining the faculty at SAR High School.

Rabbi Lehrfield concluded, “I think that the shul is doing great things, and it’s on a great trajectory. I want to work hard to partner with our amazing lay leaders and our amazing congregation to keep doing what we’re doing, helping to grow to be the best shul we can be, to be a shul that’s welcoming to all types of people that have a commitment to Modern Orthodoxy, and a commitment to Medinat Yisrael. I’m excited to be a part of it.”

By Judy Berger

 

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