By: Joseph Cammarata
On Tuesday October 14th, Rabbi Barry Freundel of the Kesher Israel Congregation synagogue in Georgetown was arrested by DC police and charged with voyeurism. According to officials, Freundel was taken into custody following a search of his home, five blocks from the synagogue on N Street, NW. Freundel is considered one of the area's leading rabbis, and has led the Kesher Israel Congregation for over 25 years. DC police have yet to provide full details regarding Freundel's arrest, but state that it involves the use of a hidden camera in private areas of the synagogue.
The Kesher Israel Congregation is a modern Orthodox synagogue that practices within a progressive branch of Orthodox Judaism. Followers of the denomination emphasize Jewish law and traditional values, while accommodating more modern and progressive viewpoints. The synagogue is known for acceptance of women in leadership, but still has a mechitza, a traditional partition that separates men and women in the synagogue.
Freundel, who has led Kesher Israel since 1989, was instrumental in the construction of a mikvah near the synagogue in 2005. A mikvah is a ritual bath central to the Orthodox Jewish faith. It is used as part the of the conversion process to Judaism and by women after menstruation or childbirth. According to the latest reports, a witness stated that Freundel had concealed a hidden camera and recorder inside of a clock radio, which was placed in the mikvah. The camera was then used to tape women as they participated in the ritual cleansing process. Kesher Israel's board of directors contacted DC police after being alerted by the witness. Freundel is expected to make an initial appearance for his charge in DC Superior Court today. The Kesher Israel Congregation has announced that he has been suspended without pay.
As individuals we enjoy a right to private moments and emotional security. Rabbi Freundel's actions, if true, trampled upon these rights. Rabbi Freundel held a position of trust. He was a spiritual leader, a counselor and a mentor. He should be held to the highest standard of conduct. If Rabbi Freundel violated the privacy rights of his synagogue members, then he should be held accountable for this violation, and his victims should be appropriately compensated.
Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. has handled several similar cases involving invasion of privacy, including a recent case involving a military service officer who secretly videotaped his roommate at home, in the bathroom and shower, bedroom, barracks and in other areas. Our legal team is currently investigating cases of Kesher Israel members who may have been victimized by Freundel's invasion of privacy.
For more information about your rights, contact our firm for a free case evaluation.