Katrina Victims Not Welcome

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s radio show was pulled from KUTR (Utah) after the pop-star rabbi suggested that dispossed families who lost their homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina should relocate to Utah.

Rabbi Shmuley had been scheduled to be in Utah this week for programming meetings with Bonneville executives and, while on the air, quickly organized and invited his listeners to an event at the Salt Lake City Marriot where refugee families from Camp Williams could meet his mostly white, Mormon and Christian listeners, who could welcome the evacuees into their communities and help them find homes.
Rabbi Shmuley asked listeners to attend the event, and to call in and invite the evacuees to their own homes, and volunteer their time to show the families Utah neighborhoods so that the evacuees could make a decision for themselves as to whether they would like to permanently relocate to Utah. The response was overwhelmingly positive and the phones rang off the hook.
[…] What followed next is reprehensible and shameful. Although Rabbi Shmuley’s show was, by far, the most listened to and the most successful on KUTR, with a cult following, Rod Arquette, Bonneville’s vice president for programming, sent Rabbi Shmuley a message ordering him not to come to Utah, and on Saturday night, after Rabbi Shmuley’s Sabbath concluded, told him by phone that the radio show too was being permanently cancelled. He offered, as an explanation, Rabbi Shmuley’s having organized the event for the refugee families on Wednesday without the station’s prior approval. Rabbi Shmuley was dumbstruck. How, in this time of national tragedy, could a station cancel its most popular show simply because the host tried to use the airwaves to help poor black families, who had lost everything in Hurricane Katrina, to find a permanent home in Utah? Is that not what all Americans should be doing at this time? And how could a Church-owned broadcaster like Bonneville take this decision on the day before September 11th?

Full story.
In related news, the JTA reports,

A synagogue in Louisiana is shutting down its shelter for victims of Hurricane Katrina and has put its rabbi on administrative leave, JTA has learned.
Rabbi Barry Weinstein was asked to take paid leave from Congregation B’nai Israel in Baton Rouge for an unspecified period. He had led the effort to house dozens of evacuees who fled their Gulf Coast homes in the wake of Katrina.
Synagogue officials say the decision about the rabbi was related to a private matter, not directly to the shelter issue. They said the synagogue would continue to house medical personnel helping with rescue efforts. But some of the rabbi’s supporters charged that a few influential members of the community who are opposed to using the synagogue as a shelter had pressured the temple’s officers to act.
The supporters expressed outrage that the shelter was closing down and that the rabbi has been barred from the synagogue.


6 thoughts on “Katrina Victims Not Welcome

  1. I grew up in Temple B’nai Israel in Baton Rouge. Rabbi Weinstein has been with us for almost 25 years now. He is truly one of the most open and giving people I have ever met. He opened this shelter to a group of grateful people in need. Furthermore, Rabbi networked with his rabbinical colleagues and was helping find homes for these refugees across the country . The Temple Board did not agree with the shelter Rabbi had created. The Temple Board is powerful, wealthy and controlling. They saw this as an opportunity to get rid of Rabbi Weinstein. To speak quite plainly, they did not want to open our doors to the refugees. There is even a recent documented account from a witness who saw one of the board members physically pick up a refugee and force him out of the Temple. Our congregants at B’nai Israel are outraged and disgusted. The point of my feedback to this article is to support Rabbi Weinstein, and to let people know the true character of the Temple Board. As far as I am concerned, we need to keep Rabbi Weinstein and fire every boardmember for their selfish bigoted behavior.

  2. Thanks for your response Jobber.
    Unfortunately, this story has now hit the front page of the Baton Rouge Advocate – http://www.theadvocate.com –I am just disturbed at how the B.R. press is so willing to cover up for the Temple Board’s inappropriate racist behavior.

  3. holly, jobber was responding to the first portion of the story, not the second. but could you please give us a link to the story in the b.r. advocate?

  4. i would just like to note that there are reasons for the rabbi;s leave that the public does not know
    it was in no way a racist issue
    it was not to get rid of the rabbi
    we all love him and want him back
    this action was for his own good and his own HEALTH
    i cant say anymore, thank you

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