Press Release: Statement in Response to Aftermath of Recent Allegations against R' Barry Freundel

October 24, 2014

New York, NY 

The recent events that have taken place have affected all of us.  We stand with the victims of rabbinic abuse and applaud Kesher Israel for taking swift action to address concerns of further abuse.  Now is not a time to point fingers, it is a time for proactive movement towards a united and safe community.    
We  hope that the RCA, IRF and laypeople, including men and women, across the Orthodox spectrum will use this opportunity to sit together at the same table in order to examine how our religious institutions have been operating and how to fix the parts of the system that are broken.  We need to ensure that the principles so clearly outlined in sefer Devarim (the book of Deuteronomy) for protecting the vulnerable in our society are built into the basic elements of our infrastructure, whether in conjunction with conversion, mikvah, agunah, or other issues of rabbinic oversight on the national and local level, and that the systems put in place do not allow for the abuse of either men or women. We believe that further transparency, clearer policies including confidential outlets for the reporting of abuse would be important steps in this process. Shemita (Sabbatical year) is a time set aside to correct the imbalances of power that have built up over the previous six years.  JOFA hopes that we can use this shemita year as a catalyst to address those imbalances that have grown in our own community.