Dovid Weinberger recently moved back into West Lawrence some two years after his abrupt departure from his position as rabbi of Congregation Shaaray Tefila in Lawrence, NY.
He quit in the wake of revelations that he was sexually exploiting women who sought his help for various kinds of counseling including marital counseling.
According to local sources some of the same rabbis who forced him to agree to quit the rabbinate, and publicly denounced him, are now divided about whether to advise their communities publicly.
In December 2013 he promised to stay totally out of the rabbinate when he 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].
He then reneged on the agreement and started talk of forming a new congregation in the area. This prompted many of the important local rabbis to issue the following statement in early 2014:
It is with great sadness that the following announcement is being made to alert our community to a serious concern of which many of members might not be aware.
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.
Weinberg then attempted an end run by getting Rabbi Yisroel Belsky to write a letter questioning the local rabbinical condemnation of Weinberg. In a rare show of rabbinical feistyness, local rabbis blocked scheduled fundraising events for Belsky’s Yeshivah Torah Vodaath. The Five Towns is one of the wealthiest orthodox areas in the country and it is estimated that this decision cost Torah Vodaath about $200,000. Belsky exited the controversy.
At this point I do not know more about Weinberger’s plans in moving back to the area. But in the past it was tied to an attempt to form a new congregation. I assume that is the current fear. I will report as I get more information.