First posted on 2/27/2014. I was the first and primary source of this story on the Internet and it garnered over 30k views.
Rabbi Dovid Weinberger was fired by his shul in the Lawrence, NY, Shaaray Tefila, before Rosh Hashanah. They claimed he was on medical leave** but announced a search for a new rabbi shortly afterward.
Weinberger went off to Israel searching for another job but came back about a month ago. He should have been able to find a job because he is married to a granddaughter of the late “Gadol” Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg. That he failed to find a job, suggests both a bad reputation and marital estrangement. If the Scheinberg family wanted to help him, he would have found a job. In those circles, allegations of molesting are no obstacle to rabbinic employment.
His return provoked consternation in the 5 Towns which thought they could make him someone else’s problem. For weeks, the 5 Towns has been aflood with rumors of rabbinic misconduct with women he counseled. He was a sholom bayis (marital) counselor. He was the founding rabbinic authority (posek) for the Shalom Task Force, a program for battered women. The rumors involve grave sexual misconduct, tape recordings, potential lawsuits against him and his former shul, and even criminal complaints. The allegations involve oral sex and phone sex.
The word is out that the Vaad of the 5 Towns and Far Rockaway has declared he should not be used as a rabbi. While most rabbis made the announcements verbally during sermons, the Yeshiva of Far Rockaway also put it in writing and posted it on their bulletin board. Supposedly, it went up shortly before the Sabbath and was supposed to be removed immediately after the Sabbath to eliminate the possibility of it being copied and publicized on the Internet. But this sort of managed dissemination is hard to pull off in an era of smart phones with cameras:
THE FOLLOWING TEXT IS BEING ANNOUNCED SIMULTANEOUSLY THROUGHOUT THE COMMUNITY…
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.
I am told this action was taken because Weinberger had enlisted some old supporters and was planning to form a new synagogue. This flyer and announcement was designed to preempt this possibility. Though they did not name him, the initials were a giveaway within that community. This sort of announcement is very unusual.
It is also noteworthy that they felt a need to report, “It is the collective judgment of these professionals that this behavior may continue.” In effect they are saying that even by the lax rabbinical standard that we always allow for teshuvah and therapy, this guy is so bad that there is no hope of even relying on therapy, etc, to rehabilitate him.
I hear he has given up on ever finding another job in the 5 Towns and has now set his sights on Monsey. There is also talk of him suing and top flight lawyers are being lined up on both sides. In spite of the usual skittishness, it seems the rabbis of the community are totally willing to step up to the plate and fight Weinberger to the end.
BTW, ArtScroll published many of his books including The Traveler’s Halachic Handbook. Given his own recent travels, I expect his next book to take its title from the biblical phrase about Cain, Nah V’Nod (wander to and fro).
**TEXT OF HIS “MEDICAL LEAVE” NOTICE (sent out about a week before Rosh Hashana):
Dear Shaaray Member,
As we’ve all witnessed, the job of a Rabbi has evolved over time and has expanded beyond the basic sheilus asked of the Rabbinate in years past.
As we all know, besides the workload of being a Rov and teaching, Rabbi Weinberger has been involved in helping people within and outside our community deal with many major issues that have affected them. All this has taken a huge toll on the Rov. A few months ago he suffered from some health issues that required a medical procedure which once again cropped up over the past few days. Under advice from professionals, it has been suggested that he take time off from his exhaustive position in order to recuperate fully. The Rov approached the executive board and requested, and we approved, a Medical leave, effective immediately in order to facilitate his road back to full health.
As a personal request from the Rov PLEASE REFRAIN FROM CONTACTING HIM AT THE PRESENT TIME.
I’m sure everyone joins me in wishing the Rov a refuah shelaimah.
Wishing all a kesiva v’chasima tova,
David Malek, [President]