Who Killed Kesher’s Rabbi?
Nearly 40 years after the brazen murder of Rabbi Philip Rabinowitz, the cold case continues to haunt the prominent D.C. congregation where he served as rabbi.
Read the Story
An in-depth look back at the crime and its aftermath reveals new details about the police investigation and the decades-long ripple effects of the killing of a beloved figure. ‘It’s part of the ethos of the place,’ says a longtime congregant.
In an undated photo, Rabinowitz speaks at a synagogue function.
Rabinowitz, top right, poses for a photo with the other rabbis on the Vaad HaRabanim of Greater Washington, the Rabbinical Counsel of Orthodox rabbis in the nation’s capital who provide spiritual guidance, kashrut supervision and a religious court.
A collection of synagogue pamphlets from the 1950s, early in Rabinowitz’s tenure at Kesher Israel, shows him grappling with Communism in Europe and “reactionism” at home in the U.S.
A 1954 flier advertising the synagogue’s High Holiday service offerings is framed in Kesher Israel’s social hall.
A copy of Rabinowitz’s 1939 naturalization certificate shows that the Poland-born rabbi changed his name from Fiszel Rabinowicz when he arrived in the United States as a teenager.
Rabinowitz’s tombstone in Eretz Hachaim Cemetery in Beit Shemesh, Israel. Rather than leaving flowers at a gravesite, Jews leave stones — like the many shown in the photo.
Rabinowitz’s home on 25th Street NW was not a particularly desirable location when he was killed there in 1984. Today, it is flanked by a Trader Joe’s grocery store and a high-end sushi restaurant.
Kesher Israel Congregation has stood at the corner of 28th and N Streets NW in Georgetown for nearly 100 years.
A large memorial plaque honoring Rabinowitz hangs in the synagogue’s sanctuary next to the bimah.
Nearly 40 years after Rabinowitz’s death, Kesher Israel’s sanctuary remains unchanged.
“There is an unfinished business there. The scales of justice have not been served. It’s not fair.”
Hear the Interviews
Jewish Insider interviewed nearly three dozen people in the course of reporting this story. Listen to some of them share their stories, and their recollections of Rabbi Rabinowitz and his killing, in these extended clips.
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