Nearly 200 members of the Riverdale Jewish Center (RJC) have signed a petition calling for Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt to remain the leader of the 700-strong synagogue, a petition organizer says.
The move came after RJC’s board appeared poised to oust the longtime leader of the synagogue following a May 29 New York Times article reporting that Rabbi Rosenblatt had led boys to a sauna naked in the 1980s and 1990s.
Mark Friedlander, a recently retired Supreme Court judge and 43-year-long RJC member, said as of Thursday afternoon, 187 total members have signed a document saying they “have never supported, do not support and will not support any effort to ‘buy out’ the rabbi’s contract and we urge all members, trustees and officers of the synagogue to continue to treat the rabbi with the full respect required.”
A Tuesday article in The Jewish Week quoted unnamed sources as saying the board had voted 34-8 “to seek a financial settlement with the rabbi and for him to step down.” The move followed a petition from at least 44 RJC members calling for the rabbi to leave.
Mr. Friedlander said he and other signers of the pro-Rabbi Rosenblatt peition had yet to determine whom they would send the document to. He declined to speculate on the plans of the RJC board, only noting, “There is a lot of enthusiasm and love for Rabbi Rosenblatt out there.”
For a story on the board’s Monday night vote, click here.
For a story on the petition calling for Rabbi Rosenblatt to leave the synagogue, click here.
Here is the rest of the petition that Mr. Friedlander read out to a reporter:
“We members of the Riverdale Jewish Center, having seen the very regrettable recently published effort to undermine our distinguished senior rabbi and indeed our entire community with the rehashing of stale issues, previously addressed and long resolved, wish to go on record as affirming that we have never supported, do not support and will not support any effort to “buy out” the rabbi’s contract and we urge all members, trustees and officers of the synagogue to continue to treat the rabbi with the full respect required when dealing with a spiritual leader who is a talmiv chacham [scholar] and ben Torah [fully observant person].
“We believe that rational persons cannot but agree that the rabbi’s decades of spectacular service, which have been made possible by his enormous talent, dedication and creativity, so far outweigh the “parsed ambiguities” referred to in the published article as to render the publication of such article a massive disservice to an entire community perpetrated by the continuing obsession of the very few.”