On January 31, 2022, Rosh Chodesh Adar Aleph, the Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim hosted Richmond County District Attorney Michael E. McMahon at its monthly seudah and conference. The conference was held in observance of the sixth yahrzeit of Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum, ZT’l, who faithfully served the RAA/Igud as its longstanding Menahel/Director. District Attorney McMahon addressed the rabbinical gathering, discussing “Public Safety Strategies for a Stronger New York City.”
This important event was hosted at the Agudath Israel of Borough Park West, also known as the 9th Avenue Agudah, where our illustrious and esteemed member Rabbi Shmuel Wohlberg serves as rabbi. Rabbi Wohlberg’s father-in-law, the revered Rabbi Dr. Bernard Weinberger, ZT’L, was a giant in the Orthodox rabbinate who served for decades as the longtime rabbi of the Young Israel of Brooklyn. Rabbi Weinberger, ZT’L, was from the early members who helped found the Rabbinical Alliance of America and held the distinction and honor of being one of its early presidents.
Rabbi Chaim Israel, president of the Agudath Israel of Borough Park West shared, fond memories of Rabbi Tannenbaum, ZT’L, who helped found the 9th Avenue Agudah and served as one of its presidents. “What made Rabbi Tannenbaum, ZT’L, unique and special was his ability not to give up and his sharp intellect and loving heart that always found solutions. As a community and as a synagogue, we were able to navigate through the challenges we faced and avert or minimize the complexity of community issues thanks to the patience, tolerance, understanding, vision and love of Rabbi Tannenbaum, ZT’L. We genuinely miss him; he was a rabbi and leader who had the patience and demeanor of an angel, whose sagely advice helped save the day many a time. We truly miss him and Klal Yisroel truly misses him. We in Borough Park were especially fortunate to have this righteous man live among us. The void he left by leaving this world has not and cannot be filled. May his memory be a blessing to his family and all of Israel.”
Rabbi Tannenbaum served as the rabbi of Congregation B’nai Israel of Linden Heights, known as Borough Park’s 9th Avenue Shul. Rabbi Tannenbaum was active with the Borough Park Bikur Cholim, assisting patients, physicians and Maimonides hospital staff with the objective of obtaining the best hospital stay and care for members of the local community. “We at the RAA/Igud do not know where Rabbi Tannenbaum found the time and energy, but he balanced his professional career at the RAA/Igud, masterfully led B’nai Israel and, with patience and love, cared for the sick at Maimonides. Since he lived near the hospital, if you could not find Rabbi Tannenbaum at his study or home you were sure to find him at Maimonides helping someone. That was the type of rabbi he was, committed to the welfare of every person he was able to help,” stated Rabbi Yaakov Klass, Presidium Chairman of RAA/Igud and close friend of Rabbi Tannenbaum.
Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president of the RAA/Igud, opened the yahrzeit observance by thanking Maimonides Medical Center President & CEO Kenneth Gibbs for sponsoring the dinner. Rabbi Mirocznik emphasized how appreciative the RAA/Igud is for “the exceptional medical care and service that Maimonides provides the community. From the miracle of childbirth through the last breath of a person, Maimonides is there for the community. That commitment starts from the top, President Gibbs and Executive Vice-President for Patient Relations and Special Assistant to the President of Maimonides Center Douglas Jablon, who are committed to excellence and constantly strive to raise that bar even higher. There is no need to wonder why Maimonides Medical Center is a world-class hospital.”
Mirocznik further commented, “the Rabbinical Alliance of America deeply values Maimonides Medical Center and we look forward to our continued relationship with the important agenda of keeping the community healthy and well. We appreciate all that Maimonides does and cannot compliment enough the herculean efforts demonstrated by Maimonides Medical Center during the time of pandemic. The hospital plays a major role in our ability to transition to a healthier normal and these efforts are deeply appreciated and applauded by the Rabbinical Alliance of America. When we close our eyes, we shudder to think of the frightening reality of what could have happened, Heaven forbid, if not for Maimonides Medical Center’s medical leadership during the nightmarish, dark days of Covid. We pray that the Almighty continue to shine His glory on Maimonides Medical Center so that the hospital shall continue in its sacred mission as a house of healing and a beacon of hope and inspiration for years to come.”
The keynote speaker was Richmond County District Attorney Michael E. McMahon who discussed, “Public Safety Strategies for a Stronger New York City.” Prior to District Attorney McMahon’s remarks, Scott Maurer, CEO and executive vice-president of the Staten Island Council of Jewish Organizations (COJO-SI) and co-chairman of the Richmond County District Attorney’s Hate Crime Task Force, introduced District Attorney McMahon and described District Attorney McMahon, “as a visionary who truly cares about criminal justice and fairness.” Maurer continued that “in 2018, in the aftermath of the October shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, District Attorney McMahon sprung into action and formed together with COJO-SI a Hate Crime Task Force. The objective is to fight the alarming rise in antisemitism and serious spike in hate crimes. To his great credit, the District Attorney has made a powerful impact and it is an honor for me to call him our community’s friend who truly cares about justice and fairness to all.”
District Attorney McMahon said, “It is important that we always keep in mind that for criminal justice to work there must be a sense of balance. We are missing that balance now, for too many people you either have to be anti-police and anti-law enforcement or pro-police to the strict letter of the law with no element of understanding. Both approaches are losing the vision of the balance of a sense of fairness. Our job is to find the balance that is the key to ensuring public safety and fair justice for all.”
District Attorney McMahon emphasized the importance of enforcing laws to keep people safe but also implementing outreach programs to prevent crimes before they happen. He spoke about the corrosive effect of lawlessness and the need to prosecute hate crimes to the fullest extent under the law.
Upon completing his presentation, District Attorney McMahon presented to Rabbi Chaim Zev Tannenbaum and Rabbi Yitzchok Dov Tannenbaum a certificate for their illustrious father Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum, ZT’L, posthumously recognizing his great and outstanding work on behalf of the Rabbinical Alliance of America.
Also participating in the memorial for Rabbi Tannenbaum, ZT’L, was Rabbi Yehuda (Leonard) Blank, director of Programing Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs RAA/Igud, and former Housing Police Chaplain, who gave a heartfelt invocation and remarks; Rabbi Moish Schmerler, administrative director RAA/Igud; Rabbi Moshe Mandel, Rabbi, Khal Bais Mordechai of Flatbush and close friend of Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum, ZT’L, who presented a special Dvar Halacha in his memory; Rabbi Dovid Katz, Menahel/Director, RAA/Igud; and Rabbi Chaim Zev Tannenbaum and Rabbi Yitzchok Dov Tannenbaum, the sons of Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum, ZT’L.