In September of 2013, Rabbi Dovid Weinberger announced a one year sabbatical leave from his position as Rabbi of Shaaray Tefila in Lawrence, New York. He attributed it to health problems:
My physicians have strongly advised that I take a one year sabbatical in keeping with the torah mandate of “ushmartem es nafshoseichem” (“you should guard your health”). I am confident that this much-needed break will be beneficial in being able to give me the capacity, with Hashem’s help, to serve the klal (public) for many more years in good health.
The letter is ambiguous about which public he would serve. In fact, his understanding with the board was that he was going to get a paid year of sabbatical and that he would not be coming back to Shaaray Tefila. But they did allow him to face save face and they expected him to relocate.
Some would praise them for ridding the shul of a predator while others, myself included are critical because they were allowing him to relocate and prey on girls and women in other communities.
As word of his misdeeds spread, he began to minimize his misconduct and blame his accusers. This led to a confrontation between him and group of local rabbis on December 18, 2013 where they threatened to expose his misconduct unless he agreed to permanently give up any role as a rabbi or educator. He was confronted with the evidence, including an incriminating recording of very serious sexual misconduct. Rather than face more evidence, he stopped protesting and signed the following statement:
To whom it may concern, I Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, formerly the Rabbi of Cong. Shaarei Tefilla of Lawrence, NY, do hereby acknowledge that I will retire from the Rabbinate effective immediately, and will never again serve in the capacity of Rov or Rabbi of any congregation or community, nor will I ever again be involved as a mechanech [teacher] in any venue of Chinuch [education].
Witnesses to this declaration included: Rabbis Yaakov Bender, Moshe Brown, Aaron Brafman, Eitan Feiner, Binyomin Forst, Naftali Jaeger, and Yechiel Perr.
Some readers will quibble and say he did not admit anything. Let’s get real! Nobody agrees to give up his lifelong career at the height of his success unless he has really been caught and would rather give it up than be exposed.
Even at this late date, Weinberger could have kept his misdeeds from the public but he then attempted to back out of his signed promise and get back into the rabbinate. This forced the hand of local rabbis. They then issued a statement around early February 2014.
Recently, RDW [Rabbi Dovid Weinberger], a rabbi, resigned from his position as a rabbi of a congregation [Shaaray Tefila, Lawrence, NY], educator of young women in our community, and counselor to many who sought his advice. Following that, we learned from professionals of a number of documented cases of his unfortunate and unacceptable behavior. It is the collective judgment of these professionals that this behavior may continue. We therefore feel obligated to inform our community of this concern and advise that there be no interaction with this rabbi in any rabbinic, educational, counseling or private setting.
(click on links below to see copies of documents )