About Us

About Riverdale Temple

Riverdale Temple was the very first Jewish congregation established in Riverdale, and remains the area’s only Reform congregation affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism.  The synagogue was officially established in 1947 with 67 founding families. Rabbi Charles Shulman was recruited from Chicago to become our first spiritual leader.  Our current building was formally dedicated in September of 1954.

Our chronological history tells only a small portion about our identity as a thriving, growing congregation.  Much has changed in the community of Riverdale in the past 60 years.  Every branch and interpretation of Jewish practice is well represented.  Our purpose is no longer to serve as “the” representative of Judaism.  Our goal is to offer a warm, progressive congregation to those individuals and families seeking a welcoming, family-friendly and innovative environment.  We are committed to an inclusive approach to Jewish life, and celebrate the diversity of our membership. 

Our congregation includes singles and couples, traditional and non-traditional families, GLBT individuals and families, those from traditional Jewish backgrounds as well as those from non-Jewish backgrounds. 

We all share a common desire to study and celebrate with open minds, intellectual curiosity and integrity, and a loving respect for Jewish history and heritage.

Reform Judaism – a brief introduction from our rabbi

People often ask me to recommend a book that will explain Reform Judaism  There are many fine books documenting the history, philosophy, and practice of Reform Judaism.  The problem in suggesting only one is that – as it is often said about Jews in general – if you have two Jews, you’ll find three opinions.  Instead, then, let me share my personally philosophy of Reform Judaism.


One of the difficulties in citing “the” Reform position on any question is the fundamental commitment to personal autonomy.  Autonomy does not mean doing anything one wants.  It refers specifically to the location of authority within our branch of Judaism.  It is perhaps easiest to explain by comparing the seat of authority in Reform Judaism and that found in Orthodox and Conservative Judaism.