Modern Orthodox Rabbi Barry Freundel, 62, of the Kesher Israel Congregation in Georgetown, was picked up by D.C. police on Tuesday morning and charged with voyeurism, the Washington Post reported.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and former senator Joe Lieberman among Kesher Israel’s many influential members.
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Rabbi Freundel remained in police custody Tuesday and is expected to appear in D.C. Superior Court on Wednesday.
And in the familiar spirit of guilty until proven innocent, his synagogue’s board of directors, where he had been the beloved leader since 1989, suspended him without pay.
Impoverishing the perverted.
The arrest came during a search of the rabbi’s home on O Street NW, not far from the synagogue, which is in the 2800 block of N Street NW. that he has led since 1989.
According to police, the case involves hidden cameras in the synagogue bathroom and the mikvah ritual bath.
In 2005, Rabbi Freundel led the effort to build a mikvah, near the Kesher synagogue. The Kesher website says Freundel also heads the conversion committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and is vice president of the region’s Vaad, which oversees kosher dietary laws at Jewish institutions.
Dipping in the mikvah is one of the requirements of a Jewish conversion.
Reactions on Social Media have been mixed.
Rabbi Joshua Yuter suggested the police information is light on details so far, including anything about the specific charges. Nevertheless, he feared that “it does look serious/ominous such that even the arrest is a Big Deal.”
Shaya Potter wrote: “Voyuerism in DC law includes unlawful recording. i.e. wiretapping. So for instance a nanny cam that records audio would fall under this law.”
Yerachmiel Lopin suggested that if the rabbi actually placed a camera in mikvah, “every ortho woman who used the mikvah will be furious. He would have better odds of politically surviving a child molesting charge.”
Nedra Weinreich wrote: “I am going to assume and hope that this is just a misunderstanding somehow. I knew Rabbi Freundel briefly when we lived in DC and have always thought very highly of him.”
Well, she’s braver than the rabbi’s own board…
Gary Pickholz wrote: “Rabbis are no more moral leaders than accountants, lawyers or doctors. There is no greater good associated with the pulpit. A point forgotten and ignored by most who confuse the world we aspire to achieve with the one we actually live in.”
And, naturally, there were those who joked the rabbi planted the camera only to make sure the undressing ladies avoided chatzitzah–any substance, even as small as a hair, that would separate their skin from the cleansing water.