The following chaverim were in attendance or on the conference call: Alan Abramson, Kenneth Auman, Shalom Baum, Gedalyah Berger, Jack Bieler, Binyamin Blau, Kenneth Brodkin, Judah Dardik, Mark Dratch, Ira Ebbin, Zvi Engel, Joel Finkelstein, Dov Fischer, Arie Folger, Efrem Goldberg, Shmuel Goldin, Avrohom Gordimer, Yonah Gross, Kenneth Hain, Shlomo Hochberg, Jerold Isenberg, Wesley Kalmar, Benjamin Kelsen, Barry Kornblau, Daniel Korobkin, Doniel Kramer, Elly Krimsky, Aaron Liebtag, Akiva Males, Leonard Matanky, Jonathan Morgenstern, Yechiel Morris, Elazar Muskin, Ari Perl, Chaim Poupko, Steven Pruzansky, Andrew Rosenblatt, Benjamin Samuels, Yoel Schonfeld, Gideon Shloush, Nisson Shulman, Shmuel Silber, Adam Starr, Chaim Strauchler, Elie Weinstock, Shlomo Weissmann, Howard Wolk, David Wolkenfeld, and Michoel Zylberman
Minutes for November 3, 2014 meeting of the RCA Executive Committee
At a special meeting of the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America, held by conference call, on Monday, Nov. 3, 2014, President Leonard Matanky in the chair, and Reuven Tradburks acting on behalf of the secretary, the following items were discussed:
- Lenny Matanky updated the Executive on the actions of the officers and leadership following the arrest of Barry Freundel. Our responsibility lies in the GPS. Women ombudsmen are being appointed to the batei din, a national ombudsmen is also being appointed. The review committee of the GPS has been appointed; its mandate does not involve halachic issues but to create a safe environment for conversion.
- Shmuel Goldin reviewed the complaints made to the RCA concerning Barry Freundels relationship with converts, in particular using them as clerical staff and to make contributions. These complaints were addressed by the RCA President and Vice President as well as by the leadership of the BDA. Representatives of the RCA (Kenneth Auman) and the BDA (Allen Fagin) interviewed the complainants and addressed the concerns directly with Barry Freundel. They felt his explanations were reasonable and accepted his assurance that he would no longer use the converts for this clerical work. There was additionally a claim that Barry Freundel traveled on Amtrak in a sleeper car with a convert. However, the one making this claim was not willing to be identified or to address this directly.
- A member of the Vaad of Washington (which received the original complaint) spoke with Barry Freundel about the allegation and received a reasonable explanation. Without a way to properly pursue the matter in a way that assured due process, no further action was taken.
- Alan Fagin and Kenneth Auman reported on the details of their investigation of Barry Freundel. While answers were given to the issues, however, the committee felt very poor judgment was exercised by Barry Freundel. Barry Freundel reported afterward that he discussed the clerical issues with the shul president.
- Many questions were directed to the presenters, including oversight issues, decision-making lessons learned, and concerns about missing issues in this case. A motion to authorize the retention of legal counsel should there be a need passed unanimously.