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Bronx, NY - Riverdale Rabbi Maintains His Innocence As Bronx DA Looks Into Complaints

Published on: June 16, 2015 01:57 PM
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FILE - Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt, the head rabbi of the Riverdale Jewish Center, in 2010 addresses the seventh and eighth graders for his annual talk between Shabbat Shuva and Yom Kippur. FILE - Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt, the head rabbi of the Riverdale Jewish Center, in 2010 addresses the seventh and eighth graders for his annual talk between Shabbat Shuva and Yom Kippur.

Bronx, NY - Just over two weeks after the New York Times ran an article alleging that a Riverdale rabbi may have engaged in inappropriate behavior with boys, young men and rabbinic interns in his congregation, the Bronx district attorney’s office has confirmed that they are investigating several complaints and are asking any possible victims to come forward.

Terry Raskyn, director of public information for the Bronx County’s Office of the District Attorney, told VIN News that complaints against Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt are currently being investigated.  Assistant District Attorney Jill Starishevsky, who has been prosecuting sexual offenders for over a dozen years and author of My Body Belongs to Me, a children’s book that encourages child victims of sexual abuse to speak out instead of suffering in silence,  has been assigned to the investigation.

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According to the New York Times story, Rabbi Rosenblatt is accused of inviting boys as young as twelve to play squash or racquetball with him. The games, which took place in the late 1980’s, were followed by joint showers and soul searching conversations about life and faith in the sauna, and often conducted in the nude.

The earliest complaint against Rabbi Rosenblatt surfaced last fall appeared on a Jewish chat group with approximately 500 members, turning up at least six more individuals who described similar experiences.  While no allegations of sexual misconduct have turned up, complainants are alleging that Rabbi Rosenblatt stared at them while they were undressed, or repeatedly placed his hand on their legs.

Raskyn could not confirm if the investigation was launched in response to the New York Times story or was the result of complaints against Rabbi Rosenblatt but urged any other potential victims to contact the district attorney’s office.

“Anyone who needs assistance should contact us,” Raskyn told VIN News.  “We have crime victims’ assistance units that will provide service to all victims, even those that are no longer within the statute of limitations.”

Raskyn declined to say how many complaints have currently been received or what possible charges are being considered against Rabbi Rosenblatt.

The Jewish Week reported one week ago that Rabbi Rosenblatt is expected to step down from his post at the Riverdale Jewish Center in the near future and that the synagogue’s board voted overwhelmingly in favor of negotiating a financial settlement with Rabbi Rosenblatt by a vote of 34 to 8.

In a letter sent to his congregants, Rabbi Rosenblatt, who is currently on a six month sabbatical, apologized if his behavior over the years inadvertently offended anyone.

“I want to assure you however that it was never my intention to cause any harm, not did I ever do anything that was unlawful,” wrote Rabbi Rosenblatt. “If any of you feel that my behavior, even if innocent, was inappropriate, I apologize to those affected.”

Rabbi Rosenblatt’s lawyer, Ben Brafman, said that he doubts that any charges will be brought against his client.


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Read Comments (11)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jun 16, 2015 at 02:06 PM lavrenty Says:

was it his brother in law that was murdered in har nof? oy vey the tzaros.

2

 Jun 16, 2015 at 02:59 PM yosher Says:

Shame on us! No allegations of sexual misconduct, no allegations of criminal misconduct, what remains is a rabble rousing and malcontented woman who yelled "fire" in a crowded Shul.

3

 Jun 16, 2015 at 03:43 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
yosher Says:

Shame on us! No allegations of sexual misconduct, no allegations of criminal misconduct, what remains is a rabble rousing and malcontented woman who yelled "fire" in a crowded Shul.

Enough is enough. It's ridiculous already. Yu give a rabbi a life contract and then seek to destroy that contract by means of concocted allegations and use of the media that destroys an entire families reputation. He is not the first rabbi this has happened to and sadly it won't be the last.

4

 Jun 16, 2015 at 04:04 PM radrad Says:

Right on Yosher
Anyone who knows this rabbi knows his extreme tzidkus and care for other people.
How many years did that machshefa keep a diary on him? She should goto hell for what she did -

5

 Jun 16, 2015 at 05:04 PM Pops Says:

There is not one iota of evidence to incriminate the rabbi in any criminal act.. The NY Times did a hatchet job because of one congregant's obvious dislike and persistent persecution of the rabbi. His reputation has been destroyed by the complicity of reporters out for a juicy story

6

 Jun 16, 2015 at 06:15 PM Heeb Says:

Allegations or otherwise, you don't hear this on Reb Chaim Kanievsky. Do you?
Also, tell me, is this the guy that went after Rabbi Slifkin with a serpentine venom??

7

 Jun 16, 2015 at 06:30 PM utazoy Says:

I have interacted with rabbi rosenbatt many times and have found him to be extremely kind careing sensitive and compassionate although i agree his suna sessions may not be the norm there has never been anyone in nearly 30 years to suggest that he ever did anything to any young man to smear him is just wrong not fair to him and his family It's just loshen harah

8

 Jun 17, 2015 at 12:03 AM Anonymous Says:

This is a modern day blood libel, lynching, and character assassination all rolled into one. The only thing this Ruv is guilty of is perhaps being too naive and innocent. This ADA is clearly trying to make a case where there is none. May the Ruv be MATZLIACH in his defense of these malicious and slanderous charges.

9

 Jun 17, 2015 at 12:06 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #5  
Pops Says:

There is not one iota of evidence to incriminate the rabbi in any criminal act.. The NY Times did a hatchet job because of one congregant's obvious dislike and persistent persecution of the rabbi. His reputation has been destroyed by the complicity of reporters out for a juicy story

Just because there is no criminal act does not mean that the rabbi acted appropriately by indecently exposing himself in naked chat sessions with minors. If true, the man lacks a sense of tznius and should be made to stop such conduct if he wants to keep his job.

10

 Jun 17, 2015 at 12:16 PM Anonymous Says:

The chachiomim say a pulpit rabbi should use a mikvah other than that used by his congregants or at least at a different time. If this man reguarly exposed himself to minors this is a serious charge and at bets shows a lack of sensitivity even if not criminal.

11

 Jun 17, 2015 at 03:50 PM Annonnym Says:

Reply to #9  
Anonymous Says:

Just because there is no criminal act does not mean that the rabbi acted appropriately by indecently exposing himself in naked chat sessions with minors. If true, the man lacks a sense of tznius and should be made to stop such conduct if he wants to keep his job.

They were never naked in the sauna. That was false reporting. They always wore full-size towels. Every person I know who has played with Rabbi Rosenblatt has confirmed this. I wish some article would fix this mistake because it gives people the entirely wrong impression of the situation.

12

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