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The Hebrew Institute of University Heights was incorporated in 1924 and, due to changing demographics in the Bronx, moved to Riverdale in 1971. Prior to the move, it was led by Rabbi Maurice Lamm, zt"l, who relocated to California. The shul's first home in Riverdale was in a rented space in the basement of the Whitehall at 3333 Henry Hudson Parkway. With the hiring of Rabbi Avi Weiss in 1973, the Hebrew Insutute of Riverdale ("The Bayit") began to grow and attract a new, younger crowd. As early as 1974, when the congregation moved from the boiler room to the Whitehall's gym,  Rav Avi established the equal sides of the mechitza, with equal view lines and access to the bima, that you still see at the HIR today.

The current building, 3700 Henry Hudson Parkway, was purchased in 1975, with the small front house serving as an office and beit midrash. The current sanctuary  opened in 1979, and the aron and mechitza were dedicated in 1987, including ramps on both sides of the sanctuary to ensure access for all. Throughout these decades, the HIR continued to expand and grow, especially with the addition of Dr. Elli Kranzler as shaliach tzibbur and Bernie Horowitz as ba'al keriah and with the addition of a full-time executive director position, a role currently held by Richard Langer. 

With the community's commitment to sometimes-marginalized groups, HIR secured funding from New York City under the Koch administration to support its work with elderly, homebound, and vulnerable populations and the "special friends" program for those with mental and physical disabilities. The expansion of the building in 2008 added additional seats to the sanctuary; a large, bright lobby and terrace; a youth floor; two batei midrash; an elevator; and much more space throughout the building. 

Despite all of these changes over the years, the HIR remains dedicated to its longstanding vision of a home -- a Bayit -- for everyone, a holy place where everyone is welcome and that serves as a hub for the broader community, with steadfast commitments to Israel, Jewish unity, halakhah, social justice, and openness to all.

Sun, July 14 2024 8 Tammuz 5784