Perv Peeper Freundel Set Up Dunks for His Viewing

Barry Freundel 1Steven I Weiss continues his excellent coverage of Rabbi (sic) Barry Freundel’s mikvah voyeurism with another article in the Daily Beast, “Women Describe How Top D.C. Rabbi Allegedly Spied on Them in the Nude.” According to Weiss, Freundel would convince conversion candidates to take practice dunks prior to the immersion which would be part of the formal beit din process. In other cases he would convince converts to do another dunk. He would be vague about how and why they needed to do it again and without a full beit din this time. He also offered his students at Towson University the experience of going to the mikvah. In each of these cases he was able to go in beforehand to set up his cameras.

Weiss says these practices started in 2008. It is distressing to realize that while these extra conversion dunks seemed strange, no one was confident enough to raise the issue to point that he was questioned about this sooner. Freundel exploited the insecurity and lower status of converts. I hope this will lead many more people to realize that rabbis are accountable, like the rest of us, and will lead to more questioning and scrutiny of their behavior.

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29 thoughts on “Perv Peeper Freundel Set Up Dunks for His Viewing

  1. Women, whether converts, students at Towson University,, or any one, all women ( the net he cast was very wide), must learn to trust their instincts, their gut feel. If it feels wrong, it probably is. Not one had a trusted Rabbi to ask if this was “kosher”? He was their “trusted Rabbi”. Egregious, disgusting, hopefully criminal???
    One convert, or convert-to-be noticed him setting up the equipment???? (per the initial account I read). Curious if she had been suspicious and had decided to track his comings and goings at the mikvah???? Do we know the circumstances of this woman catching him red-handed?
    This perv evidently would not have been content with “just” watching porn online. He had to invade the privacy, of his trusting students. While this pales in comparison to child sexual molestation, it is a hideous crime, and further reinforces suspicions about Rabbis, and negative views of orthodoxy, by Jews and non-Jews alike.. A veritable Chillul Hashem.

    And this was the POWER Rabbi, of the “power shul” where Jacob Lew and other high level politicians prayed. Coincidental?

  2. If I’m reading the Steven I. Weiss article correctly, two of the converts (who were converted prior to 2008) recall seeing a fan in the mikvah areas consistent with the fan recording device manual found in Rabbi Barry Freundel’s home.

    So Rabbi Freundel appears to have been recording in the mikvah for at least 7-8 years.

  3. The Rabbis who looked into the earlier allegations and dismissed them do not belong in positions of leadership and review.

    • It’s unclear which allegations you refer to, but it wasn’t only a matter of dismissing allegations. It was reported that the RCA learned in 2012 that Freundel had asked prospective converts to do clerical work for him and to make contributions, and Freundel was a co-signer on one prospective convert’s checking account.

      Although far less serious than the current charges, these acts, which I assume Freundel admitted and in any event the RCA accepted as true, were blatant abuses of power and moral violations. A rabbi in charge of conversions who extorts money or labor from prospective converts could just as easily be bribed. He should have been removed, or been compelled to resign as conversion supervisor, for these offenses alone. The RCA nevertheless permitted Freundel to keep his position when he promised not to do such things again. (The report made no mention of restitution.)

      We’ve seen that response before. (So have Catholics.) Freundel was not only a popular, high-profile pulpit rabbi, but a professor and “defender of the faith” in books and articles. Rabbis, like priests, show great compassion and mercy toward their fellows, at least for sins committed against those outside the brotherhood. For them, a sin is just a sin, not evidence of a character trait that left unchecked and uncorrected will inevitably produce further sins. Their concern is the sin and the sinner, not the consequences to those sinned against. It’s perpetrator-centered justice.

      Of course you are right, the leaders of the RCA should go, but those at the top can’t be dismissed, and as rabbis chosen by rabbis they are unlikely to be called to account for being too merciful to a rabbi.

      • It is even worse than you portray it. Freundel told converts that if they did not give him “contributions” he wouldn’t be able to ensure that their conversions weren’t “invalidated.”

        That is straight up extortion of a vulnerable population. That this was reported to the RCA and the RCA didn’t remove him from his post immediately is a shanda of the first order.

      • I would hate to say that. I said unreliability. the RCA had information in 2012- and denied it, and did not tell his congregation. Not sure that is the same as the agudah and hasidic rebbes…… who also may have done the wrong there. but here, freundel was the head of giyur for the RCA- he destroyed the entire organization. the entire process of giyur for all geirim in the US will not be questionedl kolko and weberman scums were individuals. freundel was an institution

      • http://www.timesofisrael.com/freundel-scandal-highlights-converts-vulnerability
        Evidently, the young Sephardic Rabbi Joshua Maroof sent Freundel candidates, to be sure that their conversion would be considered “kosher”. But during the early years, per this Times of Israel article, he was receiving a lot of negative disturbing feedback about Freundel. Another enabler?, or, to be kinder, he perhaps did not feel in a position to be a whistleblower against the powerful Rabbi (sic) Freundel, nor probably did not have any real proof…just lots of negative feedback, shmuot, efshar.
        .. Nevertheless, I would still put him on the “see no evil, hear no evil” list. Question is, after hearing so much lashon harah (truth) did he continue to send potential converts to Barry?? That would make him far more culpable as an enabler than if he had ceased referring due to disturbing feedback.

  4. Another sick rabbi but luckily not representative of all the good rabbis doing work in communities.

    After Rabbi Leib Tropper was caught on a recording abusing his position of helping prospective female converts, there should have been a tripwire and reporting process put in place to protect these women (and men?) from abuse, be that financial, sexual, emotional, and logistical.

    Maybe this incident will spur a robust reporting process to be put into place for converts, who are most vulnerable to being abused in some manner given their reliance on the rabbi(s) converting them,

    Its about time,

  5. i knew this clown in Norwalk Ct, before he moved to Washington, and i found him as welcoming as a hornet’s nest—I went to his house to learn with him, and all he wanted to do was watch MASH-the next time he pretended not to be home, even though I saw him inside–I guess he wanted to watch MASH alone-I was always amazed that he could achieve such a high position in such an important city–but, Washington is full of scoundrels, so I guess he fit right in! What an absolute tragedy for the women who were violated, and for the Jewish people as a whole–I hope that whatever prison he sits in, they don’t have frikkin MASH–this clown would just sit there and enjoy it!!

    • Probably “MASH” was an AKA for his mikveh recordings…and he probably had ony solitary activities simultaneously scheduled. OOPS, ERRATA: only.

  6. This is just more evidence that all converts and Baalei Teshuva must be educated to protect themselves from predators disguising themselves in rabbinical garb. I’m referring to all types of predation, including sexual and financial. They are so very vulnerable, because they so badly want to buy into this “perfect society” with “perfect leaders”. Lo haya v’lo yehiye- no society is perfect and no group of leaders will ever be perfect.

    • Absolutely, the recent case of the rabbi who was barred from some New Jersey shuls and who had been a chaplain in the USAF, also was involved in conversions.

    • I agree. Converts and BTs should be given “buddies” among the FFB population whom they can ask about things that make them feel uncomfortable or strange.

      • Good idea! Where can I apply for the job of buddy? I’d spend all my time trying to convince the potential BT or convert not to do it. But if they really feel they must, I’d tell them to be prepared to be treated like a second class citizen, and to never give away their money or engage in anything that feels wrong on a sexual level. I’d tell them that the one nice thing about the Jewish religion is the ability to study it in detail, and that technically none of us would ever even need a rabbi if we had the time and ability to study on our own. The rabbis are only halachik specialists, and they have no special connection to G-d. Everyone must develop their own connection to G-d, sans rabbis.

  7. The Rabbinical cover-up squad in action:

    http://washingtonjewishweek.com/17052/women-need-to-speak-up-about-mikvah/

    After we volunteered to speak to the media, our video and story appeared on television and in print. This brought us more fame than ever before. But, according to our local Orthodox rabbi, speaking to the media was not the right thing to do.

    Because we publicly spoke out against Rabbi Freundel, and supported the allegations against him, we have been made to feel unwelcome in our Orthodox synagogue. The rabbi specifically told us not to speak about the allegations against Freundel, which he considered to be lashon hara. On Simchat Torah, the synagogue’s founder came over to me and silenced a discussion I was having with my husband, Jeffrey, and the rabbi of a retirement home about the violation.

    An October 20 statement by the Vaad Hakashrus of Greater Washington illustrates the hostility we feel directed at us. The statement essentially sides with the accused by invalidating testimony made by only one witness. However, my testimony was in addition to six other witnesses documented anonymously by the court. Despite the Vaad’s claim to reach out to potential victims, we have not heard one word of support or assistance from our affiliated synagogue’s rabbi who worked closely with Rabbi Freundel on halakhic matters.

  8. Here is a link to the entire class action & individual complaint in the civil action against Kesher, National and Georgetown:

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