News Release

Latter-day Saint Professionals Honor New York City Rabbi

Elder Cook delivers keynote address

Members of the New York Latter-day Saint Professional Association gathered in New York City Tuesday evening, December 18, 2018, to honor Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, executive vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis.

Downloadable video: B-roll / SOTs

“He's done wonderful things,” said Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who was the keynote speaker at the charitable dinner. “He’s right at the heart of the Rabbinical group in New York, and everybody respects him and everybody loves him.”

Rabbi Potasnik received the Visionary Leadership Award from the nonprofit group of Latter-day Saint professionals in the New York City area for his community service.

“I think if you're truly religious, you realize it's not enough to pray for your own people,” said Rabbi Potasnik. “It's not enough to pray for peace for your own community.”

Interfaith leaders in New York also attended the annual event held at the historic Riverside Church in Manhattan to honor the Jewish leader.

“We're honoring someone who does the work, who reaches out to Muslims, to Buddhists, to all other faiths,” said Rev. Brian E. McWeeney of the Archdiocese of New York. “He's very well known in the Christian community as well as his own Jewish community.”

Sahar Alsahlani of the Muslim community said there’s a genuine respect in the faith community for each other’s tradition. “There [are] not too many places in the world where ... everybody is just sort of getting along and nobody thinks twice about it.”

Rabbi Potasnik is also known in New York as a radio host.

“He’s been on the air for 36 years,” said Robert Abrams, former New York attorney general and Jewish leader. “He's just exceedingly warm and genuine. And he's been an asset not just to our community but to all of New York City as a chaplain for the fire department of the city of New York.”

“It's because of a person like that that we all have to show up,” explained Rabbi Lester Bronstein of the New York Board of Rabbis. “Faith groups who come together in my experience … don't talk a lot about their specific ideology. They start to talk about things going on in the community that cause pain, and they're talking about ways they can coordinate their efforts in order to alleviate that pain.”

Elder Cook has formed a unique friendship with the Jewish leaders. “There is a strong friendship between the three of us, between myself and Rabbi Potasnik and Bob Abrams. … It's a melding of people of different faiths and appreciating each other and respecting each other's beliefs.”

The rabbis have visited Salt Lake City, and Elder Cook has traveled to New York City and Jerusalem to spend time with his Jewish friends.

“We want to create a path where we can walk together and deal with issues that impact all of us,” said Rabbi Potasnik. “For example, there's an increase in hatred. Jews and Mormons know what it is to be the victims of prejudice. So we were talking today about maybe doing a summit bringing the faith community together.”

“I want to thank The Church of [Jesus Christ of] Latter-day Saints for pulling so many of us together in one space with our different schedules and our different lifestyles,” added Rev. Joseph Jones of the New York Commission on Human Rights.

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