Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt’s announced resignation from the Riverdale Jewish Center pulpit late last week will hopefully close the chapter and bring to a rest the distraction that’s hovered over the shul for close to a year.
Rabbi Rosenblatt, who has led the synagogue for over 30 years, was the subject of a New York Times article in May of 2015 that accused him of impropriety in the gym and sauna after racquetball games. While no charges were ever filed against him, the activity was deemed inappropriate by the RJC Board years before. The article and subsequent media circus caused a split between those who felt they must support their friend, mentor and rav, and those who could no longer be part of the shul with Rabbi Rosenblatt at the helm.
Nobody won here. The past 10 months have seen a significant decrease in the RJC member roster, and that is attributed mostly to a loss in faith in the rabbi since the sauna sessions were reported. The rabbi’s public apologies to shul members last summer were expressions of hope that he’d be able to stay in the beloved community he essentially built.
Just what the decision last week to step down means has yet to be clarified. We cannot forget that there are many who still believe strongly in the rabbi and wish that he would stay on.
It seems clear that the shul has been negatively impacted, and that it is perhaps in the best interest of RJC and Rabbi Rosenblatt that they part company.
However, we strongly support RJC’s decision to do what it needs to move forward with its own future and that of Rabbi Rosenblatt’s in mind.
Many are coming across as “experts” in voicing their solutions for the shul and rabbi. The experts in this case are the board and membership of RJC. We hope that a solution can be reached that permits RJC to move ahead with strength and regain much of its lost membership, while we also hope Rabbi Rosenblatt can move on to bigger and better things. Let’s put an end to the loshon hora, and the online chatter. Let’s let the shul board and congregation decide. It is their right.