Yehudah Fine

Written by Yehudah Fine

NEWS:Movie Rights Purchased for Hazelden's Bestseller:Times Square Rabbi

September 12, 1999

Movie Rights Purchased for Hazelden’s Bestseller, Times Square Rabbi

Yehudah Fine’s Message of Hope and Transformation for Youth Continues to Change Perceptions and Lives

CENTER CITY, MINN-The Hazelden Foundation recently sold the movie rights for its 1997 bestseller Times Square Rabbi: Finding the Hope in Lost Kids’ Lives, Yehudah Fine’s first hand account of his work from 1985 to 1994 with children caught in the harsh street subculture of Times Square. The rights were purchased by accomplished actress and producer Pamela Hayden, who is probably best known for her voice work on the popular TV show, The Simpsons.

“We’re deeply gratified that both Fine’s work and the social issues that he addresses are getting this kind of attention,” stated Clay Garner, Executive Vice President of Hazelden Information and Educational Services. “The stories in Times Square Rabbi are more than just illustrations of that particular subculture. They demonstrate how transformation can happen, no matter how grim the backdrop might be. They are dramatic examples of the power of spiritual intervention.”

Indeed, the story of Yehudah Fine’s own journey into Times Square. and the people he meets and works with during his mission, is a highly dramatic one. A dedicated rabbi, Fine had already devoted himself to helping people with their problems when a simple phone call from a concerned family changed his life: Their child had run away. Would the rabbi walk the streets and help them in their attempt to find their loved one?

Nothing prepared him for his first trip to the streets around Times Square. As Fine recounts: “People were dying and disappearing … I sat and talked with kids under tunnels of garbage.”

With the impetus of these horrific circumstances, he found a calling, and soon was dubbed the “Times Square Rabbi.” The book chronicles Fine’s work from 1985 to 1994 on the streets with homeless and runaway teens. Working with Covenant House’s Times Square based programs, Fine began his work by riding the van and making peanut-butter sandwiches for the hoards of street kids scratching out a pathetic existence day by day, any way they could.

But Rabbi Fine did more than make sandwiches and talk. Feeling personally challenged by the problems of teen “throwaways”, the drug dealing, forced prostitution, AIDS, and suicide among this group, he integrated his understanding of Jewish tradition, family therapies, and alcohol and drug addiction recovery therapies in a new approach to personal change. It worked, and Fine saw kids begin to recover and get up and out. And since then he has taken his approach to national educators and family experts, where it has been used with great success in a variety of urban and suburban settings.

According to Garner, Hazelden sees this as a great opportunity. “The book Times Square Rabbi changed people’s perceptions of what they could accomplish if they got involved with their communities and their children. We want that prevention and education opportunity front and center in people’s lives. A movie could continue to carry the message that Yehudah Fine gave us in the book.”


Yehudah Fine has spent most of his life working with kids and families as a rabbi, educator, and therapist, and as a nationally noted speaker on alternative education, recovery, Jewish education, and parenting. He continues to serve on the guidance staff at Yeshiva University in NYC. Fine is a sought after guest on talk radio and television and hosts a popular live conference monthly at AOL’s Addiction and Recovery Forum.


Hazelden, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1999, pioneered the model of care for alcoholism, drug addiction and related diseases that is now the most widely used in the world, and has been a leader in the recovery-related publishing field since Twenty-Four Hours A Day, the best-selling daily meditation book of all time, was published in 1954. Today, Hazelden is an international provider of products and services to aid in the prevention and recovery of alcoholism, drug addiction, and related diseases. Its web site at provides informational articles, research findings, program information, and, featuring over 3,000 books, videos, and free services such as web casts, author events, hosted chats, virtual cards and medallions, and daily inspirational messages on Hope, Health, and Abundant Living.

CONTACT: Karin Nord, Hazelden Foundation, 651-213-4642 or

Times Square Rabbi is available at or at other major retail booksellers around the country. For more information about Yehudah Fine and other Hazelden authors, visit and click on Author Talk.

© 2020 Yehuda Fine