UK chief rabbi hopeful 'urged boys to strip'


A New York rabbi who was once considered for the post of chief rabbi of Britain has been accused of encouraging male members of his congregation to join him for naked sauna sessions.

Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt, currently the leading rabbi at Riverdale Jewish Centre in the Bronx, is a well-respected member of New York's Orthodox Jewish community and a visiting scholar at Harvard University.

However, the New York Times published an article last weekend in which several of his former students claimed that he had a habit of inviting them into the sauna with him after a game of squash. The young men were allegedly encouraged to strip naked, and some claimed that he stared at them in the showers. One man claimed that when he was 15 years old, the rabbi invited him over for late-night conversations, during which he frequently put his hand on the boy's leg.

The allegations against Mr Rosenblatt reach back as far as 1988, when Sura Jeselsohn, a parent in Mr Rosenblatt's congregation, made complaints regarding his behaviour.

Eventually, in 2011, the Rabbinical Council of America intervened and spoke to Mr Rosenblatt, stating that they reached a deal under which he had agreed to stop.

Yeshiva University, America's largest seminary for Modern Orthodox rabbis, nonetheless stopped placing interns with the rabbi.

Mr Rosenblatt remains in his position at the Riverdale Centre. Neither he nor congregation officials had commented on the allegations at the time of going to press.

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