Former youth director at Rodef Shalom charged with possession of child pornography

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A former member of Temple Rodef Shalom’s staff was arrested Sept. 20 by Fairfax County Police, and charged with possession of child pornography and solicitation of a minor.

Adam Tanenbaum was director of youth engagement from June 2018 until he resigned on April 10. Senior Rabbi Amy Schwartzman said the synagogue granted Tanenbaum a medical leave of absence on Jan. 5, after which he was not in contact with any children at the synagogue.

According to an email from the Fairfax County Police Media Relations Bureau, there is no evidence that Tanenbaum had inappropriate physical contact with children at the synagogue.

According to the case details, the alleged sexual offense with a minor happened via computer on Jan. 15. The charges for alleged possession and distribution of child pornography date to Feb. 18.

Rodef Shalom is cooperating with Fairfax County Police, according to an email the synagogue sent to its members on Sept. 21.

“These charges are very distressing to all of us,” the email read.

Before Rodef Shalom hired Tanenbaum, he underwent state and federal background checks and the synagogue contacted his references, none of which raised any concerns, said the synagogue’s statement.

Tanenbaum worked with the temple’s senior youth group from September to December 2018. He attended a regional sleepover with chaperones present, according to the email.

Prior to the police approaching Rodef Shalom, its staff was unaware of any alleged inappropriate conduct, the statement said.

“As you can imagine from any community facing this, this is a tragedy on many, many levels,” Schwartzman said. “Our first and foremost responsibility is to our children and our members. The work we do from here on out is about supporting them.”

The temple has arranged resources to help families discuss these allegations if they choose to, such as providing therapists for both adults and children, Schwartzman said, and resources congregants can research online.

“Living in this time of great anxiety and so much trauma happening around us, we realize there could be many dimensions to this that don’t relate directly to this case,” Schwartzman said.

She said the temple realizes this incident could also trigger responses based on similar experiences congregants may have had, and wants to be supportive of its members.

“It is with great pain that we have shared this news with you,” the temple wrote to its members. “We are sorry and saddened to diminish the joy of our community with this information, especially as we approach the High Holy Days.”

Fairfax police are investigating the charges, according to Fairfax Police, and Tanenbaum’s preliminary hearing is set for Nov. 4 in Fairfax County District Court.

[email protected]

Twitter: @jacqbh58

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