Israeli rabbi defrocked for sexual misconduct

October 27, 2016 17:28

The rabbi in question, whose name has not been released by the chief rabbinate, was employed as a neighborhood rabbi by the local religious council of the city.

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Haredi man

Haredi man [Illustrative]. (photo credit: REUTERS)

In an unprecedented step, the Chief Rabbinate has, in effect, defrocked an ordained rabbi serving in a municipally paid position for sexual misconduct.

A disciplinary committee of the Chief Rabbinate examined what was described as numerous complaints of sexual harassment against the rabbi, who served in a northern city, and his “[halachically] forbidden sexual relationships,” as well as security-camera footage of the rabbi kissing and hugging a woman who is not his wife.

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The rabbi in question, whose name has not been released by the chief rabbinate, was employed as a neighborhood rabbi by the local religious council of the city.

Although criminal proceedings against the rabbi have been dropped, the Chief Rabbinate’s committee decided that the numerous complaints by several women and video evidence were enough to revoke his rabbinical ordination.

The case of the unnamed rabbi had been under review with the disciplinary committee of the Chief Rabbinate for two years, and his license to perform marriages already had been revoked.

The Jerusalem Post has learned that the long delay in disciplinary proceedings was due to a concern of the Chief Rabbinate about the precedent such action would set and the possibility that demands could be made in the future to defrock other rabbis for similar behavior or other disciplinary misdemeanors.

According to a source in the Chief Rabbinate, once the video reached the disciplinary committee earlier this year, the rabbi was summoned to a hearing to explain his conduct. The committee rejected his explanations and, in addition to revoking his ordination, fired him from his position as neighborhood rabbi.

The source added that, although the police had evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the rabbi had committed the crimes of which he is accused, the threshold for evidence for administrative disciplinary action was lower and the revocation of his ordination, therefore, was justified.

“Such behavior is not commensurate with that required of a rabbi of the Jewish people,” a source in the Chief Rabbinate said.

Deputy-Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan, who initiated the disciplinary proceedings against the rabbi in question during his time as Deputy Religious Services Minister, welcomed the step, calling it “a deep and important change” and saying “rabbis who commit inappropriate acts will not have any immunity.”

According to Channel 2, which broke the story, an attorney for the rabbi said he was considering appealing the decision and possibly suing the Chief Rabbinate for defamation, emphasizing that all of the police investigations had been closed without an indictment.

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