(Courtesy of The Bayit) The Hebrew Institute of Riverdale-The Bayit will hold “Back to the Bayit Day” on Sunday, September 15, highlighted by its 18th annual blood drive from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in remembrance of the victims of 9/11.
The synagogue, located at 3700 Henry Hudson Parkway at the corner of Netherland Avenue in Riverdale, has scheduled a number of other life-affirming activities on the day, including a clothing drive, the presentation of a new sefer Torah and a Get Involved fair.
With 18 being the numerical value of the Hebrew word “chai,” which means “life,” this year’s commemorative blood drive takes on added meaning, noted Rabbi Steven Exler, senior rabbi of HIR. “The New York area’s blood supply levels, particularly certain blood types, are dangerously low. Donating blood is a true act of chesed and provides us with the opportunity to fulfill the mitzvah of pikuach nefesh (saving a life).” Previous HIR blood drives have netted some 130 pints of blood.
In addition to the traditional method of donating blood, this year’s drive will again feature the ALYX System, where donors have the option of giving two complete transfusion units of red blood cells at one time.
Blood donors must be between the ages of 17 and 75 (or 16 with a signed New York Blood Center parental consent form), in general good health and weigh at least 110 pounds. A photo ID must be presented by all donors.
Back to the Bayit Day’s chesed activities will also include the collection of clothing and linen for the needy, with drop-offs at the synagogue scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Items donated will go to Furniture Assist, the nonprofit organization that each Sunday invites some 30 clients referred to by social service agencies to “shop” for household goods at its warehouse. Steve Pretsfelder, who is coordinator of the Bayit’s clothing drive, noted that housewares and furniture cannot be included in donations at the synagogue that day.
Back to the Bayit Day will also include the collection of kosher canned and non-perishable food items for City Harvest High Holidays Food Drive, and the dedication of a new hachnasat sefer Torah in memory of Josef (Joe) Guttman, z”l .
The Get Involved Fair on September 15, which will run from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., is an opportunity for those attending Back to the Bayit Day activities to meet with leaders of various HIR committees (including Youth, Green Team, Israel Action, Social Action and others) to learn of their upcoming plans and to volunteer their time and talent.
“We’ve named this year’s day of giving ‘Back to the Bayit Day,’” says Rabbi Exler. “Our synagogue is affectionately known as the ‘Bayit,’ which is a home, a place of love and welcome. We are asking people to give from their homes, from their selves—whether it’s blood at the Blood Drive, clothes at the Clothing Drive, or signing up to volunteer through our Get Involved Fair. By doing so we return to our core values of home—caring for other individuals in our community, the Riverdale community and beyond.”