Did Sauna Rabbi, Rosenblatt, Sanitize His History to Get New Job

jonathan rosenblatt 3

Jonathan Rosenblatt

In May I reported (5/30/16) that Jonathan Rosenblatt was working as a “spiritual and pyschological counselor” at Scarsdale Integrative Medicine.

He got this position after being forced out of his rabbinical position at the Riverdale Jewish Center because of his history of exploiting his mentoring role to have long nude gawking and displays with boys and young men.

The Riverdale Press reports, “The clinic did not respond to requests for comment for this article.”

However, the Riverdale Press did report the defense offered by Rosenblatt’s attorney, Meyer Koplow. Continue reading

Jonathan Rosenblatt and the Boundary between Innocent, Creepy, and Abusive

Yossele Rosenblatt

Yossele Rosenblatt

Jonathan Rosenblatt, rabbi of the Riverdale Jewish Center, is the great-grandson of Yossele Rosenblatt. I am sitting here listening to Yossele’s magnificent cantorial singing on recordings made a hundred years ago. He had everything, vocal range, control, phrasing, musicality, originality, and above all, soul. His secular contemporary in the opera was the great Italian tenor, Enrico Caruso. According to an often repeated story, Caruso attended one of Rosenblatt’s New York recitals. After hearing Rosenblatt sing Eli, Eli, he went on stage and kissed him. That was an innocent kiss expressing one great artist’s admiration of another.

But other interactions devoid of physical contact can be downright creepy. Most women have had the unpleasant experience of being visually undressed by strangers or having conversational partners talking to their chest instead of their face. Continue reading

Submit Your Questions to the Sauna Rabbi’s Q&A Session

Sauna TurkeyJonathan Rosenblatt has survived an attempt by his board to get him to resign following stories in the New York Times and the NY Jewish Week detailing his unconventional nude sauna and shower bonding with boys and young men. Now he is trying to refurbish his reputation in a congregation whose board voted 34-8 to seek his resignation.

His board has scheduled a members-only meeting tonight (Wed., 9/2/15). According to the notice:

Rabbi Rosenblatt announced his desire and intention to… serve and he provided a vision of the future of the congregation. At that time, members of the Board felt that it would be beneficial for the members to hear the Rabbi’s message directly from him… Continue reading

Board Chair Liss who Protected Sauna-Bonding Rabbi Rosenblatt Is Accused of Inappropriate Conduct with Child

Dr. Donald Liss Board Chair, Riverdale Jewish Center

Dr. Donald Liss
Board Chair, Riverdale Jewish Center

Andrew (Andy) Blumenthal was a child in Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt’s Riverdale Jewish Center (RJC). According to Andy’s posting, during that time, Andy, from a less well-off family, was befriended and groomed by RJC member, Dr. Donald Liss, with home invitations, babysitting jobs, vacation invitations and a paid job in Liss’ hospital.

Dr.Liss repeatedly touched him, fawned over his developing muscles, orchestrated situations to be naked with him in a gym, and got naked before Andy while also in the presence of Mrs. Liss. Even as Andy got uncomfortable and tried to distance himself, Liss persistently tried to deepen and further the connection. Andy finally acted on his growing discomfort and terminated the connection. Yet Liss continued to pursue him for years. Whether or not this went still further, this is classic pedophile grooming and illegal as misdemeanor child endangerment, at a minimum.

Dr. Liss is now the Board Chair of the Riverdale Jewish Center. Together with President Samson Fine, he overrode the will of the majority of the board which voted 34-8 to buy out Rabbi Rosenblatt’s contract.  The majority sought the buyout to rid their synagogue of the scandal of Rosenblatt’s outrageous and persistent exploitation of his relationship to manipulate boys and young men to spend time with him while naked, all under the guise of bonding through sports. Continue reading

OU Featured “Sauna Bonder” Rosenblatt at Rabbinic Mentoring Events

Rabbi Steven Weill

Rabbi Steven Weil, Executive Vice President of the OU 2009-2014

The Rabbinical Council of America and Yeshiva University were critical of Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt’s practice of mentoring boys and young men in extended mutually nude interactions in showers and saunas. However, the Orthodox Union (OU) used Rosenblatt for rabbinic mentoring events starting in  2009 and 2010. These events ran through 2013 but it is not clear if he was used for all of the remaining events, though the OU did not claim otherwise when I inquired.

According to a 2010 email by OU Executive Vice President Rabbi Steven Weil,

In Toronto I attended a three-day conference for over 30 rabbis from large, medium and small shuls across North America. This is part of a regular series of gatherings organized by the OU, which occur on-site in numerous locations; last year, the rabbis met in Chicago, while next year’s conclave is planned IY”H for Kansas City.

Many of the rabbis who participate in this group are relatively new to the pulpit (within the past decade, but most newer). They are mentored by more experienced rabbis, foremost among them Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt of the Riverdale Jewish Center. This event was held at Shaarei Shomayim, following which, I was privileged to remain behind in order to serve as Shabbat scholar-in-residence. (emphasis added).

Continue reading