Kesher Israel, the prominent Washington, D.C. synagogue that counts Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and former Senator Joe Lieberman among its high-profile congregants, has fired its longtime spiritual leader, Rabbi Barry Freundel, who was arrested in October and charged with six counts of misdemeanor voyeurism. The disturbing charges included installing cameras to spy on women who used the synagogue’s adjacent mikvah and showers.
Freundel, who pled not-guilty, had been suspended without pay since his arrest. The synagogue announced the termination of Freundel’s contract in a statement published on their website, which also stipulates the disgraced rabbi must vacate his synagogue-provided residence by Jan. 1, 2015.
The decision by the Board of Directors was made under extraordinarily difficult and unfortunate circumstances. The alleged acts leading to this step were a gross violation of law, privacy, halakha, and trust. They breached the high moral and ethical standards we set for ourselves and for our leadership. Our collective heart breaks for the consequences, both seen and unseen, of these alleged acts to all the potential victims and our entire community.
The statement calls Freundel’s termination “an important moment for our community.”
Freundel’s next court date is Jan. 16.