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The sanctuary of Kesher Israel, in Washington, D.C.

If the charges brought against a Washington, D.C. rabbi are true, the stain against him and the shadow cast by the accused wrongdoing will be long and hard to remove.

The rabbi of the Modern Orthodox Kesher Israel, also known as the “N” Street shul, has been charged with installing an electronic camera in the mikveh building and using or intending to use the camera to see the women as they prepare to immerse themselves monthly in the ritual bath as is commanded in the Torah. The mikveh is also used on certain occasions by men.

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Rabbi Dr. Barry Freundel was suspended without pay by Kesher Israel’s board of directors after he was arrested and charged with voyeurism, allegedly using cameras to spy on women in the mikveh.

A police report obtained by the Washington, D.C. Fox affiliate alleges that Freundel was installing a camera hidden in a clock radio above a shower at the mikveh. The rabbi allegedly told the person who caught him that he was fixing the shower’s ventilation system.

The Washingtonian reported that police carried computers and other objects out of the rabbi’s home, which is a few blocks from the synagogue.

If there is anything positive to make of such a story, it is that upon learning of the reported inappropriate conduct, the congregation alerted the authorities, rather than try to sweep the ugliness under the rug. Too often certain religious communities turn inward at such a time and deal with the situation by removing the alleged transgressor from its midst, which simply exports the potential evil to another community.

The board of directors of Kesher Israel released the following statement on Tuesday, Oct. 14:

This is a painful moment for Kesher Israel Congregation and the entire Jewish community.  At this challenging time, we draw strength from our faith, our tradition, and our fellow congregants.

Upon receiving information regarding potentially inappropriate activity, the Board of Directors quickly alerted the appropriate officials.     Throughout the investigation, we cooperated fully with law enforcement and will continue to do so.

After today’s arrest of Rabbi Dr. Barry Freundel, the Board of Directors suspended him without pay.  As always, Kesher Israel will remain open as a place of learning, prayer, and community, including throughout the remainder of the Sukkot holiday.

This is a very difficult time for all of us.  We respectfully request that our community be granted privacy.  Any further questions should be directed to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Freundel, 62, has been the rabbi at Kesher Israel for 25 years. He is also the vice president of the Rabbinical Council of Greater Washington and is a member of the executive committee of the Rabbinical Council of America.

Freundel is scheduled to appear in court in Washington today, Wednesday, Oct. 15.

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62 COMMENTS

  1. This rabbi is a predator.they show up in all of society and all religions. He has a mental illness and needs treatment. He should not be in the pulpit at this time.i feel sorry for the congregation to go through this.it could have been young children and they would have been damaged for life

  2. This Jewish Press could've saved and protected the image of an old rabbi from public condemnation and insult had they not it published openly. Discretion and tactfulness are really essential in media reporting.

  3. at least he was looking at women and not sucking little boys wee wees like the Catholic priests. just looking at those guys creep me out. sorry for the Rabbi I feel for him. he should have gotten a porn collection. I’m Jewish and I look at porn- lots of it…and so does other orthodox Jews I know; but the camera in the bathroom was too much. if the Rabbi did it he screwed up there. I have done lots of worse things than that. well sort of worse… that’s pretty screwed up Rabbi, he can’t ever explain that one away. he can’t even say ” so what the guy was a piece of anyway; he had it coming” he can’t even say ” I never killed a man that didn’t deserve it” this Rabbi could not clean this one up. he could not be on any prison yard as me.

  4. Yeah…in the mikveh area…where people are naked. Think before you speak bud. And they were pulling things out of his house meaning that they have evidence of him having a direct link to the security video vis-a-vis his computer.

  5. Rabbi Freundel is a scholar and has served his congregation for 25 years. I hope he is receiving appropriate legal help and that all his colleagues have not abandoned him and his family. He has been convicted in the media and his reputation is ruined. I would hope judgment be reserved until all the facts are in . RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

  6. This modern Orthodox rabbi(sic)was a rabbi(sic)for Ex Sen. Joe Liberman, who(LIeberman) generated a letter to then President Clinton, not TO EVER release Jewish American Jonathan Pollard! Many modern Orthodox(sic)synagogues make on Shabbos/Yom Tov a Blessing(sic)for the most anti-Semitic president Michelle Obama, since Jimmy Carter.! Its time the Modern Orthodox come to roost! Shame on Modern Orthodox!!!

  7. [Surak] I never heard this before. Do you have any evidence? I'm no fan of Joe Lieberman, but this would be very bad indeed. I'd like to read the evidence and judge for myself. If you can show me evidence, I will share it b'li neder.

  8. Barry, Bernard are they Jewish names?? Rosnberg you had a big scandal years ago! You have the Chutzpah to come to the dfense of someone who is not only a pervert but is transgressing against ESHES ISH multi times! Both of you modern Orthodox are the weakest link in the Ortho chain. How does youe wife, live with a ROSHOW!

  9. How is it Bernard that your RAV of YU at his Levayah NOT ONE ROSH HAYESHIVA came to his funeral? Is it because to many YU REITS grads went sour??? Bernard what about your YU GAY CLUB? How about your YU affiliate OU having a sex predator heading NCSY??? Shame on you for soiling the JP website!!!

  10. Dear Rabbi Friedman. Condemning Modern Orthodoxy for what one or two have done is as bad as when someone condemns Charidim as a group for what what one or two have done or when Judaism as a whole is condemned because of a Madoff or a Lebovits.

  11. It is suggested you do research. My paper on Liberman lists multi transgressions of Liberman. First, use search engines for the New York Times in the years of Liberman's Senatorship! I have written extensively about liberman and others. Forawrd uour email and after Yom Tovim I'll email you some of my writings on Liberman!! Read all my comments of today!!! On Watch my shows its in my comments as Day times etc.

  12. I guess privately using his computer for all the porn he could ever consume in ten lifetimes isn't comparable to this? Really? How evil do you have to be to injure yourself, Jewish leadership, your family, community, Judaism, & God because you can't control a desire to do this? Really? WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Evil Inclination is some hell of a creation.

  13. Success has many fathers, failure is an orphan. If he is guilty he will be punished. I still hope that his friends and colleagues will reach out to him his family. I am not a personal friend and have not seen him for almost 40years. I am not defending him, merely asking that judgment wait until all the facts are in. RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

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