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Tuesday, August 09, 2016

‘Sauna Rabbi’ Jonathan Rosenblatt providing counseling at NY health center 

Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt speaking at the Riverdale Jewish Center in New York on Feb. 26, 2014. (Screenshot: YouTube)

Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt, the New York spiritual leader who resigned from his pulpit after criticism for having sauna chats with boys in his congregation, now works as a counselor at a New York health center.

Rosenblatt provides spiritual and psychological counseling at the Scarsdale Integrative Medicine center in Westchester, New York, according to his page on the health center's website. The Forward reported on Rosenblatt's new position on Monday.

"Recently retired from more than three decades in the community rabbinate," Rosenblatt "combines the ancient wisdom of the Jewish tradition with the sophistication of a broad Western liberal arts and social science education," according to the website, which does not mention why he left the rabbinate.

Rosenblatt playing racquetball and visiting the showers and sauna with boys and young men from the Riverdale Jewish Center garnered headlines after an expose in The New York Times in May 2015. The article reported that some congregants and former congregants of the modern Orthodox synagogue discussed the trips to the sauna, during which the rabbi "engaged the boys in searching conversations about their lives, problems and faith."

No one cited in the story accused Rosenblatt of sexual touching, but several expressed their discomfort with the practice and described the behavior as deeply inappropriate for a rabbi and mentor. At various times, Rosenblatt was told by rabbinic bodies or his congregation's board to limit such activity.

After vowing to remain in his position in the wake of fallout from the article, Rosenblatt announced his resignation as the congregation's senior rabbi in February.

"Rabbi Rosenblatt has deep experience across a broad spectrum of challenges: coping with serious illness and bereavement, stressful family relationships, parenting challenges, life transitions, loss of a sense of meaning and direction, workplace conflicts," according to the health center's biography. "Many rabbis from around the world call him to consult on their thorniest counseling situations," it also said.

Rosenblatt, a Baltimore native, studied in Israel at Yeshivat Har Etzion and was ordained by the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University in 1982.


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