Jonathan Rosenblatt

Jonathan I. Rosenblatt (born August 31, 1956) is an American Modern Orthodox rabbi, teacher, lecturer, and counselor.


A native of Baltimore, Rabbi Rosenblatt has served for more than thirty years as the Senior Rabbi of the Riverdale Jewish Center in The Bronx, New York. Under his leadership the RJC has become the largest "teaching synagogue" in the country, through its Rabbinic and Pre-rabbinic internship programs.[1] Rabbi Rosenblatt is known for his work in bridging the gaps that divide Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and secular Jews, and for actively supporting the Oslo peace process in the Middle East.[2] He has lectured widely in the United States, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Israel and is often quoted on topics of concern to the Jewish community.

Rabbi Rosenblatt earned a BA and MA from Johns Hopkins University in Comparative Literature and a PhD from Columbia University in Modern British Literature. He studied in Israel at Yeshivat Har Etzion and was ordained by the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University.

Rabbi Rosenblatt is the great-grandson of celebrated cantor Yossele Rosenblatt,[3] and the grandson of Rabbi Samuel Rosenblatt, founding rabbi of the Beth Tefiloh congregation in Baltimore and pioneer of the Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School.[4] Rabbi Rosenblatt and his wife Tzipporah Twersky Rosenblatt, an attorney, have four children: Judah, Tonya, Samuel, and Rivka.

In November 2012, it was reported that Rabbi Rosenblatt was a candidate to replace Jonathan Sacks as the Chief Rabbi of the United Synogogue.[5][6][7] Ultimately the position went to Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.[8]

In February 2014, Rabbi Rosenblatt delivered a lecture in his synogogue explaining his opposition to SAR High School's decision to allow two of its female students to don tefillin (phylacteries) in morning prayers.[9] Rabbi Tully Harcsztark, the principal of SAR High School, attended the lecture.[10] Rabbi Dr. Samuel Lebens noted that Rabbi Rosenblatt delivered a "stunning master class in how to disagree with respect and love."[11] The talk was later uploaded to YouTube.[12]

In June 2014, Rabbi Rosenblatt was honored at the Riverdale Jewish Center's 60th Anniversary Dinner in celebration of his thirtieth year of service to the congregation.[13][14] The dinner program included congratulatory video addresses by Rabbi Ahron Lichtenstein, Rabbi Mordechia Willig, the widow of Rabbi Yehuda Amital, President Richard Joel and Rabbi Yitz Greenberg, among others.[15]

In his June 11, 2014 speech to Congress, Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY) said

Anchored by his wife Tzipporah, Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Rosenblatt has been at the helm of the RJC for nearly 30 years, and their guidance can be felt throughout the lives of those whom they have touched...My connection to the Rosenblatts is personal. Rabbi Rosenblatt is a dear friend who was a great comfort to both me and my family after my mother passed away. Rabbi Rosenblatt is truly one of the kindest and most sensitive people whom I have met. He has never proven otherwise, in each and every encounter we have had. The Riverdale Jewish Center is fortunate to have Rabbi Rosenblatt at the helm of the Shul, and I am fortunate to call him my friend.[16]

In November 2014, Rabbi Rosenblatt's brother-in-law, Rabbi Moshe Twersky, was murdered by Palestinian terrorists in a synagogue in Jerusalem.[17]

In May 2015, the New York Times published a piece about Rabbi Rosenblatt's history (in the 1980s and 1990s) of inviting young men to play squash or racquetball often accompanied by sitting in the sauna.[18] There were no allegations of sexual touching or criminal conduct.[19]

On February 25, 2016, Rabbi Rosenblatt announced his plans to step aside from his role as Senior Rabbi of the Riverdale Jewish Center.[20] A representative for the rabbi explained "Rabbi Rosenblatt is eager to leave a positive legacy for his years of service to the Riverdale Jewish Center...He is stepping down because he would like to see the community grow and he thinks in order for that to happen [the synogogue] needs a fresh start."[21][22]


  1. "A New Synagogue Concept: The Teaching Shul- 3 Questions with Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt of Riverdale Jewish Center". YouthCon - Informal & Experiential Jewish Educators Convention. Retrieved 2016-03-30.
  2. Freedman, Samuel G. (2009-05-29). "Two Rabbis Find They're Separated Only by Doctrine". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-03-30.
  3. Staff, JLNJ. "RJC: Rabbi Rosenblatt to Step Down". The Jewish Link of Bronx, Westchester & Connecticut. Retrieved 2016-03-30.
  4. "Beth Tfiloh ~ History". Retrieved 2016-03-30.
  5. "Hail to the chief: Americans eyed in search for Britain's top rabbi". NBC News. Retrieved 2016-03-23.
  6. "As new chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis faces a fractious British Jewry - The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle". Retrieved 2016-03-23.
  7. "The Next Chief Rabbi of Great Britain". Tablet Magazine. Retrieved 2016-03-23.
  8. "Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis is installed as UK chief rabbi - BBC News". BBC News. Retrieved 2016-03-30.
  9. Lebens, Dr Samuel (2014-03-10). "Women and Tefillin: Address It; Don't Suppress It". Haaretz. Retrieved 2016-03-30.
  10. Lebens, Dr Samuel (2014-03-10). "Women and Tefillin: Address It; Don't Suppress It". Haaretz. Retrieved 2016-03-30.
  11. Lebens, Dr Samuel (2014-03-10). "Women and Tefillin: Address It; Don't Suppress It". Haaretz. Retrieved 2016-03-30.
  12. "Reflections on the Tefillin Debate - YouTube". Retrieved 2016-03-30.
  14. "Congressional Record Extensions of Remarks Articles". Retrieved 2016-03-23.
  15. Riverdale Jewish Center (2014-06-10), RJC 60th Anniversary Dinner 2014, retrieved 2016-03-30
  16. "Congressional Record Extensions of Remarks Articles". Retrieved 2016-03-23.
  17. Ohlheiser, Michelle Boorstein, Abby; Larimer, Sarah (2014-11-18). "American victims of synagogue attack include rabbi from 'family of princes'". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2016-03-25.
  19. "DA found no criminal conduct by Rabbi Rosenblatt". The Riverdale Press. Retrieved 2016-03-30.
  20. "Deal Set For Embattled Riverdale Rabbi To Step Down". The Jewish Week | Connecting The World To Jewish News, Culture & Opinion. Retrieved 2016-03-30.
  22. "'Sauna' Rabbi Stepping Down; Or Is He?". The Jewish Week | Connecting The World To Jewish News, Culture & Opinion. Retrieved 2016-03-30.
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