Hartman Institute hires ex-camp director sued for mishandling assault allegation

Jewish nonprofit says Ethan Linden serving as educational operations director months after he left Ramah Berkshires, where lawsuit claimed he ‘acted with deliberate indifference’

Rabbi Ethan Linden, former director of Camp Ramah in the Berkshires, is taking a new position at the Shalom Hartman Institute. (Screen capture/Shalom Hartman Institute via Jackie Hajdenberg/JTA)
Rabbi Ethan Linden, former director of Camp Ramah in the Berkshires, is taking a new position at the Shalom Hartman Institute. (Screen capture/Shalom Hartman Institute via Jackie Hajdenberg/JTA)

JTA — Six months after a lawsuit claimed that he mishandled an allegation of sexual assault between campers at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires, the camp’s former director, Rabbi Ethan Linden, has a new job.

Linden began a role as director of educational operations and design for the Shalom Hartman Institute on Monday, the Jewish education nonprofit confirmed. The job involves supporting Hartman’s educational programs throughout the year in a “vital internal coordination and consultative role,” according to a Hartman spokesperson.

The Shalom Hartman Institute runs more than a thousand programs over the course of the year, ranging from one-off lectures to convenings of thought leaders to a gap year program in Israel. It also operates two high schools, one in the United States and one in Israel.

The spokesperson declined to say whether Linden would have any contact with the teens involved in Hartman’s programs but said in a statement, “We maintain rigorous processes for screening and evaluating prospective employees for competence and character in our commitment to the excellence of our work.”

The new job caps a tumultuous period for Linden, who was one of three parties named in a lawsuit filed in early May by a former camper at Ramah in the Berkshires, where he had been director since 2016. The camp and Linden told the court in August that they had reached a settlement with the former camper, which was finalized last month.

The lawsuit alleged that Linden and others overseeing the camp had “acted with deliberate indifference” in the summer of 2018 after the camper alleged that she had been sexually assaulted by a male camper. The lawsuit alleged that Linden did not inform the camper’s family of the assault, and instead pressured her not to tell her parents and involved the police only after her parents learned about the alleged assault.

The suit also claimed that Camp Ramah and National Ramah Commission, the organization that oversees all of the Ramah camps, was aware of the alleged assault and how it was handled by at least January 2019, and that they allowed Linden to remain in charge. Both groups said in a statement in May that the camp had previously cooperated with law enforcement.

Linden was placed on leave one week after the lawsuit was filed, and National Ramah Commission Director Amy Skopp Cooper led Camp Ramah in the Berkshires last summer. On Nov. 1, Susie Charendoff took over as its interim director.

The camp informed families on Oct. 16 that Linden had resigned from his position, saying, “We wish him all the best and know that we will miss his many talents, his energy and spirit, his warmth, and his passion for Jewish camping.”

Linden had previously worked as a rabbi at Shir Chadash Conservative Congregation in Metairie, Louisiana, near New Orleans, and at three other Ramah camps.

A lawyer for Ethan Linden did not return a request for comment by publication time.

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