The Rabbi Who Cursed His Congregants

Sept. 16 2019

Founded in Yonkers in 1904 by Hungarian immigrants, Congregation Ohab Zedek was an offshoot of the Manhattan synagogue of the same name, and had some 1,000 members in its heyday. Nancy Klein tells the story of a mysterious scandal at the shul, and its surprisingly easy resolution.

In 1926, the spiritual leader of Ohab Zedek was the fiery Rabbi Philip Rosenberg. One day, in a battle whose cause I was never able to ascertain, Rabbi Rosenberg opened the holy ark and cursed the congregation. It must have been quite a scene. At that time, the ark stood some three stories over a raised platform before a magnificent stained-glass window.

The congregation was understandably upset. And so they contacted Rabbi Philipp Klein [of] Ohab Zedek in Manhattan, [who] proposed a solution: Philip Rosenberg would take a position at Cleveland’s Knesseth Israel synagogue, and the Yonkers Ohab Zedek would hire his newly ordained son, Rabbi Alexander Rosenberg, in his place. Amazingly, the congregation, the elder Rosenberg, and his son all agreed.

Alexander Rosenberg served the shul from 1926 until his death in 1972. His father remained in Cleveland for the rest of his life.

The synagogue eventually moved to the Riverdale neighborhood the Bronx, where it merged with another congregation. But a plaque hangs at the new location, praising Klein for his intervention in the affair.

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More about: American Judaism, Rabbis, Synagogues

The Evidence of BDS Anti-Semitism Speaks for Itself

Oct. 18 2019

Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs recently released a lengthy report titled Behind the Mask, documenting the varieties of naked anti-Semitic rhetoric and imagery employed by the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction the Jewish state (BDS). Drawn largely but not exclusively from Internet sources, its examples range from a tweet by a member of Students for Justice in Palestine (the “world would be soooo much better without jews man”), to an enormous inflated pig bearing a star of David and floating behind the stage as the rock musician Roger Waters performs, to accusations by an influential anti-Israel blogger that Israel is poisoning Palestinian wells. Cary Nelson sums up the report’s conclusions and their implications, all of which give the lie to the disingenuous claim that critics of BDS are trying to brand “legitimate criticism of Israel” as anti-Semitic.

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Read more at Fathom

More about: Anti-Semitism, BDS, Roger Waters, Social media