District police removed a black Sony Dream Machine radio clock and camera as evidence on Sunday from Kesher Israel in Georgetown—-the modern orthodox synagogue whose rabbi was arrested Tuesday on voyeurism charges.
Police arrested Rabbi Barry Freundel at his nearby Georgetown home Tuesday and he is expected to appear in D.C. Superior Court this afternoon.
According to the police incident report, a 35-year-old woman reported seeing Freundel plug in the electronic device in the showers in the mikveh—-a bath used in orthodox Jewish rituals. Freundel said, according to the report, that he was using the device for ventilation in the shower area. Women often use mikvehs for spiritual cleansing and purity after child birth and menstruation. mikvehs are also used by men and people converting to Judaism. During this spiritual cleansing, all clothing must be removed.
If the allegations are true, it could mean the rabbi was spying on people in his congregation while they were partaking in a religious ritual.
Freundel has worked at the synagogue since 1989, and is a highly regarded rabbi in the region.
Kesher Israel released a statement last night, saying that the rabbi has been suspended without pay. Here is the statement in full:
This is a painful moment for Kesher Israel Congregation and the entire Jewish community. At this challenging time, we draw strength from our faith, our tradition, and our fellow congregants.
Upon receiving information regarding potentially inappropriate activity, the Board of Directors quickly alerted the appropriate officials.
Throughout the investigation, we cooperated fully with law enforcement and will continue to do so.
After today’s arrest of Rabbi Dr. Barry Freundel, the Board of Directors suspended him without pay. As always, Kesher Israel will remain open as a place of learning, prayer, and community, including throughout the remainder of the Sukkot holiday.
This is a very difficult time for all of us. We respectfully request that our community be granted privacy. Any further questions should be directed to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Read the incident report:
Photo by Darrow Montgomery.