A lengthy, threatening note slipped into a package of Five Towns Jewish Times newspapers that were left on the doorstep of Rabbi Kenneth Hain’s Lawrence home last Friday attacked him after Hain, a prominent spiritual leader, took a stand against a news photo that the outlet recently published on its front page.
The photo showed a Five Towns dentist, Dr. Gila Jedwab, appearing to celebrate in front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 after a mob stormed the building, overrunning police barricades.
The note writer called the rabbi anti-American, claimed that Hain protects people “who have spewed hatred towards all Jews, including yourself,” and called for his resignation as spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Sholom.
The Lawrence congregation, the first Orthodox synagogue in Nassau County, was one of two synagogues in the Five Towns that sent letters to the Five Towns Jewish Times asking that the weekly Orthodox Jewish newspaper not be delivered to their shuls.
Hain, Rabbi Avi Miller, synagogue President Barry Gurvitvch and Board Chairman Alan Heller signed a letter complaining that the paper’s front-page photo of Jedwab striking a pose on Capitol Hill was “irresponsible and reflects a disregard of our community’s values.” Jedwab claimed the photo was taken before the riot began, but Trump supporters can be seen on the inauguration bleachers behind her.
Hain declined to comment.
Young Israel of Woodmere, the largest Orthodox Jewish congregation on the South Shore, also sent a letter to the Five Towns Jewish Times requesting that the paper not be delivered, for the same reason. “We strongly object to your posting of Gila Jedwab with her arms extended in a welcoming fashion during the despicable event in front of the nation’s capital together with all its negative ramifications,” read Young Israel’s letter, which was signed by its board president, Stuart Wagner.
No one representing Young Israel responded to a call and email requesting comment.
The threatening note that Hain received also mentioned Five Towns Jewish Times Publisher Larry Gordon’s apology for publishing the photo and called Congregation Beth Sholom’s letter an attempt to ruin Gordon’s paper and livelihood.
Although there was opposition in his newsroom to publishing the photo of Jedwab, Gordon told the Herald, “It was made on deadline and it was breaking news. We had no idea of any type of violence, and we have had a steady diet of protests. In print, which is primitive communication these days, overnight you could report ‘Dewey defeats Truman’ and it becomes a collector’s item. In hindsight and clearly knowing how sensitive it was, I wouldn’t run it.”
The “Dewey Defeats Truman” headline appeared on the front page of the Chicago Daily Tribune on Nov. 3, 1948, the day after incumbent President Harry S. Truman actually won the election.
Jedwab’s pro-Trump columns in the Five Towns Jewish Times ignited a flurry of angry letters from some of its readers. Gordon said she was a guest columnist who wrote 10 or so columns. “She doesn’t work for us,” he said. “That’s over for now. She said everything.”
Rebbetzin Nancy Hain, Hain’s wife, reported the threatening note to the Jewish Alliance for Dialogue and Engagement, a group that communicates with 130 members on Whatsapp. “We will secure the photo and other info sent to the local Rabbi to give [to] police for follow up investigation,” Nancy Hain posted. “Will let you know when/if there is more. Thanks for the support & good wishes. This is being taken very seriously by the Shul, its security & us.” JADE group members later posted, “The Hain family knows who delivered the package on Friday and it is being addressed internally.”
Amy Mosery, who helped create JADE, said the group condemns the threats made against Hain and was founded with the idea that political and social discourse should be civil. On Saturday a JADE member posted: “The Hain family would like to thank everyone who has reached out to them to show their support. There has been a tremendous outpouring from the community and the family is trying to make their way through all of them.”