Tuesday, October 14, 2014
An Orthodox rabbi who presides over a prominent Washington congregation has been arrested and charged with voyeurism
Rabbi Barry Freundel is accused of placing a hidden camera in a changing area used by women, as well as some men, to disrobe before they enter a ritual bath called a mikvah. The congregation’s mikvah is in a building next to the synagogue, Kesher Israel. The congregation’s board of directors said that it had notified law enforcement authorities of its concern about Rabbi Freundel’s behavior, and had suspended him without pay. Rabbi Freundel has been the spiritual leader at Kesher Israel since 1989; among the prominent people associated with the congregation have been Treasury Secretary Jack Lew; Joseph I. Lieberman, the former Democratic senator from Connecticut; and Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor at The New Republic. Rabbi Freundel has been an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University and an assistant professor of rabbinical literature and history at the Baltimore Hebrew Institute at Towson University. Rabbi Freundel serves on the executive committee of the Rabbinical Council of America, an association of modern Orthodox rabbis, and for a few years was head of its conversion committee. Conversion to Judaism requires immersion in a ritual bath, and many Orthodox women visit a mikvah regularly for purity rites.