Bintel Blog

Rabbi Organizes Jailhouse Bar Mitzvah

By Devra Ferst

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Themed Bar Mitzvahs are nothing new, but a jailhouse rocks theme? Perhaps, only in New York.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has ordered an investigation into a rather unusual coming of age ceremony, the New York Post reported.

Late last year, Tuvia Stern, an orthodox fraudster who was busted in 1989 for a scam involving $1.7 million and lived on the lam for nearly 20 years in Brazil, held a lavish Bar Mitzvah celebration for his son and 60 guests in the gym of the Manhattan Detention Complex, known as “the Tombs.” The party was complete with privately catered kosher food and a performance by popular orthodox singer Yaakov Shwekey.

The event broke a myriad of prison rules – chiefly those prohibiting knives (even if only for steak) and cell phones on the premises. The city even footed the bill for the officers who worked overtime at the event yet the event went unnoticed outside of the prison community. However, when Stern used the space again, this May, for a small engagement party for his daughter, it came up on the Mayor’s radar.

Several correctional officers were punished for their involvement in the events, losing up to two weeks of vacation time. Rabbi Leib Glanz, the correction chaplain who organized the bar mitzvah, was suspended for two weeks.

“I’ve never seen, in my career, anything as stupid as this,” a Department of Correction insider told the Post about the bar mitzvah, which was permitted over the objections of at least one jail official. “It’s outrageous what transpired,” he said.

The Forward reports that that the Orthodox organization Agudath Israel of America is defending Rabbi Leib Glanz. Read more here.


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