Naked sauna session rabbi apologises


A Rabbi accused of encouraging young men to undress and join him in the steam room has addressed the allegations in a letter to members of his synagogue.

After an article published on May 29 in The New York Times, accused him of improper conduct spanning several decades, Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt remained quiet for almost a week.

On Thursday, the rabbi wrote to his congregants: “I want to assure you however that it was never my intention to cause any harm, nor did I ever do anything that was unlawful.”

He added, however: “If any of you feel that my behaviour, even if innocent, was inappropriate, I apologise to those affected”.

His lawyer advised him not to comment on the allegations publicly. But in a statement given to the Jewish Week, he noted: “There is significant reason to believe that the attack on my reputation is being promoted by those whose real attack is on my beliefs and principles.

“The respected rabbi of an important congregation would, for some, represent a significant trophy in the predatory quest to discredit his ideas and, possibly, an opportunity to change the nature of the community he leads.”

Earlier in the week leaders at Rabbi Rosenblatt’s synagogue, the Riverdale Jewish Centre in the Bronx, sent a letter to congregants assuring them that they “take any allegations of impropriety very seriously”.

The letter also stated: “Years ago, when RJC leadership heard rumours about the Rabbi’s alleged interactions surrounding athletic activities, the details were assessed and no evidence of misconduct was found.”

The Bronx County District Attorney Bureau on Child Abuse and Sex Crimes was it was investigating the allegations made against Rabbi Rosenblatt, and asked those affected by his conduct to come forward with information.

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