Al Sharpton's Rosh Hashanah appearance sparks outrage

Controversial activist-turned TV host Al Sharpton honored during Manhattan synagogue's Rosh Hashanah services, sparking outcry.

David Rosenberg,

Al Sharpton
Al Sharpton
Reuters

A Manhattan synagogue has come under fire after it invited Reverend Al Sharpton to its Rosh Hashanah services this week.

Sharpton, the founder and president of the National Action Network and TV personality, wrote on his Facebook account that he had been invited to speak at the East Side Synagogue in Manhattan at the invitation of rabbis Perry and Leah Berkowitz, and included a photo of himself preparing to speak during the Rosh Hashanah service Monday.

“Being presented to speak at the Rosh Hashanah Services of the East Side Synagogue by Rabbi Perry Berkowitz and Rabbi Leah Berkowitz.”

Other pictures uploaded by Sharpton’s Facebook account show him handling a shofar.

While there are few details of Sharpton’s visit, including the content of his address, the synagogue’s decision to invite the highly controversial 65-year-old reverend sparked controversy.

A Change.org petition called on the East Side Synagogue to issue a formal apology to the family of Yankel Rosenbaum, an Australian yeshiva student who was murdered by a mob during the Crown Heights Riots in August 1991.

Sharpton, who had organized mass protests outside of a heavily Hasidic neighborhood in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, was heavily criticized for inflaming tensions in the lead up to the riots, saying at the time “If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house.”

Four years later, Sharpton was accused of inciting black radicals to target Freddy’s Fashion Mart, a Jewish-owned clothing store in Harlem. In December 1995, Roland Smith opened fire inside Freddy’s Fashion Mart and set fire to the building, leaving eight dead and four injured.

Earlier this year, Sharpton admitted to saying “cheap things”, alluding to his anti-Jewish rhetoric in the 1980s and 1990s, but stopped short of issuing an apology.

“This is crazy,” said Chabad’s Rabbi Mordechai Lightstone in protest of Sharpton’s attempt to “whitewash” his past.

Sharpton’s “entire speech is a justification for ignoring and forgetting Crown Heights. This is so insulting. So Wrong. Literally the whole thing is ‘people will say you did wrong by bringing me here, but you need to forget that’. Some Jewish suffering is so meaningless.”




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