Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt of the Riverdale Jewish Center in the Bronx, New York, has liked to get naked with and ogle male congregants, who were often teen boys, and with university-age students he mentored or taught.
Above: Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt (credit: David Goldman for the NY Times)
Report: Top Modern Orthodox Rabbi Likes To Ogle Naked Teen Boys
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
The New York Times reported today that for more than three decades, powerful Modern Orthodox Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt of the Riverdale Jewish Center in the Bronx, New York, has liked to get naked with and ogle male congregants, who were often teen boys, and with university-age students he mentored or taught.
Rosenblatt is a great-grandson of Cantor Yossele Rosenblatt, perhaps the best hazan the Jewish world has ever known. His wife is a granddaughter of the late preeminent Modern Orthodox rabbinic leader Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik and is also a member of the Twersky hasidic dynasty.
Rosenblatt liked to play squash or racquetball with males as young as 12-years-old and then ogle them as they showered. He would sit with them naked in the gym’s sauna for prolonged periods of time and talk about their personal lives and issues. As he spoke he sometimes placed his hand on a boy’s thigh or shoulder in way some found uncomfortable.
In 1989, a member of Rosenblatt’s synagogue, Sura Jeselsohn – who kept a detailed and regularly updated diary and had previously begun documenting complaints about Rosenblatt – urged the synagogue’s president, Marvin Hochberg, to have Rabbi Rosenblatt get counseling. According to her diary’s contemporaneous notes, which were seen by the Times, Hochberg refused, claiming there was no need to involve “outsiders.…The strange thing is that [Hochberg] kept saying, ‘The rabbi promised, the rabbi promised,’ and that hardly sounded like an appropriate professional way to deal with it,” Ms. Jeselsohn wrote at the time.
After receiving complaints, the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) set up a plan for Rosenblatt that involved counseling and a promise not to get naked with his congregants or teen boys.
Rosenblatt allegedly violated that deal, but his synagogue allegedly falsely told the RCA Rosenblatt was fully compliant, and at one point a psychiatrist told the RCA Rosenblatt “did not represent a danger to young men in that no physical boundaries had been crossed, or no inappropriate physical boundaries anyway,” Rabbi Basil Herring, the RCA’s immediate past executive vice president, reportedly told the Times.
Yeshiva University stopped sending rabbinic interns to Rosenblatt’s synagogue to study under Rosenblatt because it, too, received complaints about Rosenblatt’s nude sessions, his ogling and unwanted touch, and it reportedly notified the RCA of the complaints. Even so, YU still allows its rabbinical students to go to study under Rosenblatt “voluntarily” – and many still do so.
Did Rosenblatt violate any laws?
Linda Fairstein, a former sex-crime prosecutor turned novelist, reportedly said similar conduct could easily be construed as endangering the welfare of a minor, which in New York State is a misdemeanor described in the state’s penal code (in part) as knowingly acting “in a manner likely to be injurious to the physical, mental or moral welfare of a child less than 17 years old.”
“I see it as entirely inappropriate behavior for any adult mentoring kids,” Fairstein said.
Some of the boys Rosenblatt allegedly ogled and fondled subsequently left Orthodoxy because of it.
Rosenblatt has never been charged with a crime.
[Hat Tip: Seymour.]