Long Island Board of Rabbis
|Type||Organization of Conservative, Orthodox, Reform, and Reconstructionist rabbis on Long Island, New York|
|Region served||Long Island, New York|
|Membership||300 rabbis (approx.)|
The Long Island Board of Rabbis is an organization of Conservative, Orthodox, Reform, and Reconstructionist rabbis on Long Island, New York. Its headquarters are located in Deer Park, New York.
The Board has issued resolutions and policy statements from time to time on various issues. At times it has done so by itself, and in other instances it has done so jointly with other organizations, including the Long Island Council of Churches, and the Commission on Christian-Jewish Relations of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island. Issues that it has focused on have included anti-Semitic incidents on Long Island, the Holocaust, taxation of houses of worship on Long Island, domestic violence, drug abuse, and anti-Black racism.
In 1981, Nassau County presented awards to Rabbi Louis Stein of the Board and three other Long Island religious leaders (Bishop John R. McGann of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre, Rev. Jack Alford of the Long Island Council of Churches, and Rev. Lawrence McCoom of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island) in recognition of their jointly issuing a policy statement affirming the need to study the Holocaust in schools. In 1987, the Board invited Palestinian speakers to address the Board.
In 1988, some Orthodox Jews in Israel were seeking to change Israel's Law of Return so that only converts who had been converted to Judaism by Orthodox rabbis would be entitled automatically to Israeli citizenship. Rabbi Esor Ben-Sorek wrote a letter, as President of the Board, to Israeli leaders urging them "to use your good offices to prevent any changes in the status quo regarding the definition of `Who is a Jew' or `Who is a Rabbi.'" While he signed the letter as President of the Board, he said the letter only reflected his personal views. The Board reacted by issuing a statement, saying that it had voted:
to disassociate itself from recent statements about Israel by its president, Rabbi Esor [Ben-Sorek] ... While each rabbi harbors his and her own personal feeling regarding the Law of Return, it is the consensus that the Long Island Board of Rabbis supports Israel unequivocally, and calls upon congregants to continue their strong support emotionally, financially, and with visitations to Israel.
In 2001, Charles O'Shea, a Nassau County assessor, began to enforce an 1896 New York State law requiring that special tax assessments be paid on homes bought by synagogues and churches for their rabbis and ministers. At the same time, New York State law provided houses of worship with a tax exemption on property used for religious purposes. Board President Rabbi Ronald Androphy (East Meadow Jewish Center) observed:
There is a long history in this country of a separation of church and state, and the exemption of religious property from taxes. I think it's a dangerous precedent to set, because if the government can assess taxes for one purpose, what is to prevent it from assessing taxes on church and synagogue property in general? My great fear is that down the line governments might assume that the right to tax gives them the right to regulate. That would be an extremely dangerous breakdown of the separation of church and state.
In April 2007, 59-year-old President of the Long Island Board of Rabbis Moses Birnbaum, who had never before been arrested, was arrested and taken to central booking along with 21 other rabbis for taking part in a sit-in opposite the United Nations. They were demanding that Iran be ousted from the UN for saying Israel should be “wiped off the face of the earth”, and repeatedly threatening Israel.
Past Presidents of the Board include Rabbis Simon Resnikoff, Julius Goldberg (Plainview Jewish Center), Tobias Rothenberg (Huntington Jewish Center), Esor Ben-Sorek, Arthur Schwartz, Philip S. Krohn, Paul Kushner (Congregation Shaarei Shalom), Stuart Geller (Temple Emanuel) in Lynbrook), Bruce Ginsburg (Congregation Sons of Israel), Alan F. Lavin (Temple Hillel of North Woodmere), Ronald L. Androphy (East Meadow Jewish Center), and Moshe A. Birnbaum (Plainview Jewish Center).
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