Rabbinical council suspends Freundel after voyeurism charge

Washington DC Orthodox rabbi faces ‘deeply troubling’ allegations of peeping on ritual bathers in Georgetown synagogue

Rabbi Barry Freundel, former spiritual leader of Kesher Israel (YouTube/Kesher Israel, screen capture)
Rabbi Barry Freundel, former spiritual leader of Kesher Israel (YouTube/Kesher Israel, screen capture)

WASHINGTON — The Rabbinical Council of America suspended Barry Freundel, the Washington D.C. rabbi arrested this week on a voyeurism charge.

The RCA board met in an emergency meeting Wednesday and suspended Freundel, effective immediately, extending the ban to his activities with the Beth-Din of America, meaning that Freundel’s functions as one of the leading conversion rabbis in the United States were also suspended.

In a letter to member rabbis of the Orthodox body, the president, Rabbi Leonard Matanky, said the charges Freundel faces are “deeply troubling” and confirmed what had until now been attributed to anonymous sources — that the alleged peeping took place in the mikvah adjacent to Kesher Israel, Freundel’s Georgetown shul.

Freundel is “facing charges that are deeply troubling,” Matanky said, adding that the alleged peeping is a “terrible, awful violation of privacy and of the sanctity of the mikvah.”

A recipient of the letter read it out over the phone to JTA. Freundel, according to reports, hid a camera in the mikvah, which was open for use to Orthodox Jews throughout Washington.

Washington’s police chief, Cathy Lanier, is meeting Sunday with Orthodox Jews to discuss privacy issues related to whatever recordings police may have uncovered in a search of Freundel’s house.

Matanky praised the Kesher Israel board, which reported Freundel to the authorities, for “acting responsibly” in the matter. He said in the letter that the RCA would “take further action as appropriate.”

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