newsIsrael at War

New York radio talk-show host Sid Rosenberg visits Israel for first time

The WABC journalist's outlook on Judaism and Zionism has been impacted "in a big way" since the Oct. 7 Hamas onslaught.

Sid Rosenberg at the JNS studio in Jerusalem, January 2024. Photo by Josh Hasten.
Sid Rosenberg at the JNS studio in Jerusalem, January 2024. Photo by Josh Hasten.

Unapologetic and unfiltered, New York conservative radio talk show host Sid Rosenberg is in Israel this week, touring the country and broadcasting his four-hour top-rated morning show “Sid & Friends in the Morning” live to his 77 WABC audience, from the Jerusalem studios of JNS news.

This is the 56-year-old’s first trip to Israel. He decided to visit the Jewish state after witnessing the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre of his Jewish brethren from afar.

After one of his broadcasts, Rosenberg sat down with JNS to reflect on his Israel experience and said: “If you’re a Jew and you care about Israel and the Jewish people, and your heart is in the right place, this is the time to come. I knew on October 8 I was coming to Israel.”

Rosenberg, who traveled to Israel with his wife and two children, along with the executive producer of his show, Justin Ellick, said that when he told his friends, family and radio audience that he was going to Israel, the response was mixed.

“There were people who were asking, ‘Why go now, it’s so dangerous.’ And on the other hand, so many people were thanking me for coming to Israel and showing support. To reiterate, I knew this was the perfect time to come.”

Rosenberg stressed that he has always been a proud Jew, but not particularly observant. But he said that his outlook on Judaism and Zionism has been impacted “in a big way” since the Oct. 7 onslaught.

“I say all the time if Hamas wanted to try and ruin the spirit of the Jewish people and break us—the exact opposite has happened, you’ve brought the Jew out in me,” he said.

Rosenberg shared, “I’ve always been a proud Jew, but I’ve skipped going to synagogue and over the past few years, even the High Holidays. But two weeks after October 7 my wife joined a temple, I’ve started to go to Friday night Shabbat dinners—at least five times over the past couple of months—and I’ve even sat and learned Torah with a rabbi.

“I am by no means religious, but I am certainly much more aware. I do things now that would detail me as much more observant than four months ago,” he said.

U.S. radio host Sid Rosenberg at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, January 2024. Courtesy.

One of the most emotional moments for Rosenberg, who lost his father, Harvey, several years ago, was a visit to the Western Wall with his son Gabriel. His parents never made the trip to Israel, but his 89-year-old mother, Naomi, is a regular and beloved guest on his show.

Choking up as he spoke, Rosenberg said, “Going to the Wailing Wall [Western Wall] and saying a prayer for my father was difficult but beautiful. And to have my son Gabriel with me to pray for my dad, and to be at a sacred place like that was great, even as it hurts.”

He elaborated, “My dad was my best friend. He was my coach in every little league sport. He was an Orthodox Jew, and we went to synagogue together for all the High Holidays. He even blew the shofar in the later years of his life in his temple in upstate New York. He passed away a few summers ago and it’s been horrible.”

Rosenberg toured Jerusalem and visited reclaimed Jewish property with the Ateret Cohanim organization through former New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind and his wife, Shoshana.

He also spent time getting to know Gush Etzion in Judea, including an evening barbeque for hundreds of IDF soldiers.

“Gush Etzion was amazing. Some don’t recognize that area as part of Israel, but it is the last line of defense for Jerusalem, especially if someone wanted to do what Yasser Arafat wanted—to take over the whole country—so that was a fascinating visit.”

Sid Rosenberg and Rachel Goldberg-Polin, whose son Hersh lost an arm during the Hamas invasion and is being held in the Gaza Strip. Courtesy.

Rosenberg’s itinerary for later in the week included a visit to the south, to see firsthand sites ravaged by Hamas in the Oct. 7 massacre, in order to share the realities of that event and the subsequent war with his audience.

Rosenberg’s trip was coordinated by Israeli entrepreneur Yehuda Honickman, an immigrant from New York, and was sponsored by the One Israel Fund organization. “We are eternally grateful for the One Israel Fund. Every day has been amazing. I waited my whole life to get to Israel, and it has exceeded every expectation. I love it here and I’ll be back soon,” he said.

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