Second lawsuit filed against Kesher Israel


A second class action civil suit was filed Dec. 18 against Kesher Israel Congregation of Georgetown, The National Capital Mikvah and the Rabbinical Council of America in connection with Rabbi Barry Freundel’s arrest for voyeurism.

A woman, listed only as Jane Doe 2, studied Judaism under Freundel and took a practice dunk in the mikvah, a ritual bath, following his suggestion, has filed suit, claiming that she suffered “severe mental distress and emotional damages that may be permanent, which have necessitated medical expenses and may require medical expenses in the future.”

More than four years ago, Jane Doe 2 attended a Passover seder, during which she became interested in the Judaism, said her attorney Ira Sherman of Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel P.C. of Washington D.C. The woman then began preparing for her conversion. Although she did not live in the area, the woman “continued to communicate with, and periodically visit the D.C. area beit din, a Jewish court, and Freundel in particular,” according to the lawsuit.

In October of 2013 “at the direct encouragement of Freundel,” the woman took a practice dunk at the National Capital Mikvah, the lawsuit states. She also used the mikvah in February of this year, at which time she became a Jew.

After learning of Freundel’s arrest, the woman “was devastated and humiliated by these revelations, which shook her new religious faith and twisted her sublime experience of conversion. She felt as if she had been effectively raped by her spiritual guide,” it states in the lawsuit.

While Jane Doe 2 is the only woman listed in the suit, Sherman said his law firm has other clients that he anticipates will be added to the class action suit in the near future.

Although Freundel is not a defendant in this lawsuit, “We very well might sue the rabbi,” Sherman said, adding, “I think he need to see where the criminal allegations lead.”

The first class action civil suit, also against Kesher Israel Congregation, the National Capital Mikvah and the RCA, was filed Dec. 2.

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