Updated Feb. 4
Rabbi Barry Freundel has informed Kesher Israel Congregation in Georgetown that he has no intention of moving out of his synagogue-owned rabbinical residence, despite being required to leave under the terms of his contract, according to synagogue officials.
That’s why Kesher Israel last week applied to formally open a case against Freundel with the Beit Din of America in New York.
Freundel was arrested Oct. 14, and charged with six counts of misdemeanor voyeurism in connection to his alleged videotaping of women as they prepared to use the National Capital Mikvah.
According to an email from synagogue President Elanit Jakabovics that was sent to Kesher Israel’s members last week, “Kesher’s position is clear: Rabbi Freundel’s contract with Kesher has been terminated, for cause, and he must vacate the residence and return all shul property immediately.”
The synagogue also is asking for monetary compensation “for his illegal occupancy of the house since Jan. 1 and compensation to cover the costs of this unnecessary arbitration,” according to the congregation-wide email.
Under Freundel’s contract, he should have moved out 30 days after his date of termination, which took place Nov. 24.
Near the end of the year, synagogue officials tried to learn when Freundel would be moving out and informal conversations were initiated. During those conversations, Freundel, through his attorney, requested back pay and his pension.
Synagogue officials were told Freundel would leave by March 1 if he received back pay from the time he was arrested until his actual firing. Synagogue officials refused but said Freundel could remain until March 1 if he “released all claims” against the synagogue, Jakabovics said. Despite several discussions, an agreement was not reached.
Freundel’s attorney, Jeffrey Harris, a managing partner in the District law firm Rubin, Winston, Harris & Cooke LLP, said the synagogue’s charges were “very misleading.” Freundel previously had said he was taking the matter to the Beit Din, but that he wouldn’t be doing so until the criminal case had been played out.
During discussions with Kesher Israel, “they said that March would be okay” to remain in his residence, Harris said. At that time, Freundel agreed he would not receive any back pay but he still wanted his $100,000 retirement money from his pension, Harris said. The synagogue refused to agree, Harris said. “We said we are sorry. We are not giving up his pension.”
Kesher Israel does not plan to give him the money nor does it believe the two matters are linked. The discussion now is focused on getting Freundel out of the house and enabling the synagogue to move in.
“We feel that money is not owed to him,” Jakabovics said, adding that the synagogue doesn’t provide a pension, but rather has been giving Freundel an annual sum, which differs from year to year, that he, in turn, invests himself.
Harris said he was not informed that Kesher Israel had opened a case with the Beit Din, which should have happened if a case against Freundel was started.
What incredible arrogance.
What Hutzpah? Freundel (undeserving of any title or honor) has disgraced himself, the synagogue, the Mikvah, and the Jewish people with his betrayal of all Jewish values and trust bestowed up him. I cannot imagine how any Jewish court or any court for that matter would not only rule against him but should impose the maximum punitive fines as well. I personally would like to see him physically evicted, all of his monies taken to pay damages to everyone he wronged, for his total excommunication, and ultimately for the court to take every penny he has to pay his victims.