Yom HaZikaron

Riverdale optimism amid sorrow


Riverdale marked a somber Yom HaZikaron on Monday night, with several hundred people filling the SAR HS auditorium to listen to SAR choirs, the chanting of Tehilim, words about soldiers and hostages and, at the program’s end, a message of hope.

Among those attending were leading Bronx elected officials who organizers praised as standing firm with the borough’s Jewish communities — and with Israel — in all the days since Oct. 7.

Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson, Rep. Ritchie Torres, Councilman Eric Dinowitz, and Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz sat respectfully in the front row for the full hour-and-a-half length of the service; none spoke.

Riverdalians were praised for their quick and ongoing response to Oct. 7 by the Riverdale Y’s director of community engagement, Rabbi Scott Kalmikoff.

“You’ve shown up” over these seven months, participating in Manhattan rallies, riding 500 strong on buses to Washington, and raising over $120,000 to buy an embulance for Magen David Adom, he said.

“I saw someone post on Twitter, ‘Can anybody share some positive news in all this darkness?’ And someone responded to that post, ‘We’re Jewish.’ For me, that was very powerful,” Rabbi Kalmikoff said.

“In the last few months, it has been hard to be a Jew. People are scared to wear their yamaka on the street or to wear a Magen David necklace on the subway. But we need to be proud of who we are always,” he continued.

“Our ancestors used to say in Europe, it’s hard to be a yid, it’s hard to be a Jew. And we had hopes that the creation of the State of Israel is changing that.”

“We know that the world is challenging, but we have to stay positive,” he said. “We have to stay together and stay united and love our fellow Jews no matter what — to take care of one another in the bad times, in the challenging times, but also in times of goodness and in times of joy.

“Let’s continue to love each other and be there for each other and continue to feel hope.”