New York Board of Rabbis

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The New York Board of Rabbis is an organization of Orthodox, Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist rabbis in New York State and the surrounding portions of Connecticut and New Jersey.

The roots of the New York Board of Rabbis date to 1881 with the establishment of the New York Board of Jewish Ministers by Rabbis Gustav Gottheil, Adolph Huebsch, Henry S. Jacobs, Kaufmann Kohler, Frederick de Sola Mendes and Abraham Pereira Mendes, who came from differing branches of Judaism, hoping to work together to foster Jewish education and advance Judaism. The New York Board of Rabbis was formally adopted as the organization's name in 1946.[1]

Protests were lodged against the 1948 film Oliver Twist noting that Alec Guinness's portrayal of Fagin was considered anti-Semitic. Guinness wore heavy make-up, including a large prosthetic nose, to make him look like the character as he appeared in George Cruikshank's illustrations in the first edition of the novel. As a result of objections by the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith and the New York Board of Rabbis, the film was not released in the United States until 1951 with seven minutes of profile shots and other parts of Guinness's performance removed from the film.[2]

Rabbi Wentworth Arthur Matthew (1892–1973), founder of the Commandment Keepers a sect of Black Jews, applied for membership in the New York Board of rabbis, but was denied.[3]

In 2005, the Board of Rabbis and the New York Catholic League issued a joint statement condemning the pop-culture Chrismukkah, calling it a "multicultural mess" that is "insulting" to both Jews and Christians.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A Bit of History, New York Board of Rabbis. Accessed December 10, 2008.
  2. ^ Gross, Michael Joseph. "New 'Oliver Twist' rejects old stereotype", International Herald Tribune, August 24, 2005. Accessed December 10, 2008.
  3. ^ Sundquist, Eric J. "Strangers in the Land", via Google Books, p. 116. Harvard University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-674-01942-3. Accessed December 10, 2008.
  4. ^ McCarthy, Michael (December 16, 2004). "Have a merry little Chrismukkah". USA TODAY. Retrieved December 28, 2006. 

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