January 22, 2021
Rabbi Kenneth Hain banned the 5 Towns Jewish Times from his synagogue after a local Trump supporter who attended the Jan. 6 protests in Washington was featured on the paper's front page. (Screenshot from 5 Towns Jewish Times)
Rabbi Kenneth Hain and other leaders of Congregation Beth Sholom in Lawrence, New York, banned the 5 Towns Jewish Times from their synagogue because the newspaper featured a front-page photo of one of its columnists at the Jan. 6 protests in Washington, D.C.
When the paper arrived Friday on Hain's doorstep, the front page was obscured by a threatening note calling on the rabbi to resign from his pulpit.
"You are aligning your behavior with the radical anti American Democrats who are now in full gear to destroy not only America, but who are poised to target Israel and all Jews," the note read.
The note was not signed, but its author apparently is known to the Hain family, according to the Long Island Herald.
It's the latest sign of the divisions within Orthodox communities over the results of the 2020 presidential election and its aftermath.
The photo that spurred the synagogue ban was of a local dentist and Trump supporter standing in front of the protests on the same day that a mob would descend on the Capitol.
"The photo that appeared on the first page of the 5 Towns Jewish Times this week was an outrageous Chilul Hashem," Beth Sholom leaders wrote to the synagogue's members on Jan. 8, using a term that means a desecration of God's name.
Larry Gordon, the editor of the 5 Towns Jewish Times, apologized for the photo choice, but not before Beth Sholom and one other large local synagogue, the Young Israel of Woodmere, banned the newspaper from their buildings.
Supporters of the paper took out an ad in the newspaper the week after the controversial front page. "We stand proudly with the 5TJT in the face of silencing and censorship," the ad, paid for by "friends of the 5TJT," read.
According to the Long Island Herald, Hain's wife, Nancy, reported the note addressed to her husband to the Jewish Alliance for Dialogue and Engagement, a local group that has focused on promoting the coronavirus vaccine, in a WhatsApp group.
"We will secure the photo and other info sent to the local Rabbi to give [to] police for follow up investigation," she wrote. "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."