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RABBINICAL COUNCIL OF AMERICA ISSUES STATEMENT REGARDING FREUNDEL MATTER

All Conversions Remain Halachically Valid

Announces Other Steps to Ensure Integrity of Future Conversions


New York, October 20, 2014 – The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) today said that since the arrest last week of Rabbi Barry Freundel of Washington, DC, it has been working assiduously to address the many challenges that its members and their communities now face.

Rabbi Leonard Matanky, President, and Rabbi Mark Dratch, Executive Vice President, said, “First and foremost, our hearts continue to go out to the individuals who were converted to Judaism by Rabbi Freundel whose trust was violated and who have worried about their personal status. We pray for the welfare of all victims, including the many women who used the Kesher Israel mikvah for taharat hamishpacha (family purity) purposes, and for the continued strength and healing of the Kesher Israel community, which is a vibrant center of our sacred Torah and that is suffering greatly at this time. We also feel for the Freundel family and offer them our support during this difficult personal time.”

Today the RCA is able to announce that the Beth Din of America – under the leadership of Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz – has concluded as a matter of Jewish law that conversions performed by Rabbi Freundel prior to his arrest on October 14, 2014 remain halachically valid and prior converts remain Jewish in all respects. This ruling follows a review of the charges contained in the court documents that have been released to date (including the criminal complaint, search and arrest warrants, and accompanying affidavits) and applicable Jewish law with respect to the status of prior conversions.


  • In an emergency meeting on Wednesday, October 15, 2014, the day before Shmini Atzeret, the RCA Executive Committee voted unanimously to suspend Rabbi Freundel from all positions of leadership in the RCA, from RCA membership and, together with the Beth Din of America, from all activities related to conversion.
  • On Sunday, October 19, 2014, the RCA, together with the Beth Din of America, announced, “Based upon a review of the charges contained in the court documents that have been released to date (including the criminal complaint, search and arrest warrants, and accompanying affidavits) and applicable Jewish law with respect to the status of prior conversions, the Beth Din of America has concluded as a matter of Jewish law that conversions performed by Rabbi Freundel prior to October 14, 2014 remain halachically valid, and prior converts are to be considered Jewish in all respects.”
  • The RCA and the Beth Din of America have agreed that every Beit Din assembled under their Geirus Protocol and Standards (GPS) will appoint a woman (or group of women) to serve as ombudsman to receive any concerns of female candidates to conversion. The name of this person will be provided to all conversion candidates at the beginning of the conversion process. Prospective converts will be assured that their standing in the conversion process will not be compromised by communicating with the ombudsman, and that any such communications will remain confidential to the extent possible.
    The RCA will appoint a commission composed of rabbis, lay leaders and
    mental health professionals (including men and women) to review the current GPS conversion process and suggest safeguards against possible abuses. This commission will report its findings to the RCA Executive Committee by January 31, 2015.
  • RCA leadership is in close contact with Kesher Israel leadership and expects to continue a dialogue regarding this matter.
  • Rabbi Mark Dratch, MSW, Executive Vice President of the RCA, is available to speak confidentially with any concerned party. Rabbi Dratch can be reached at mdratch@rabbis.org or 212-807-9000.
  • In July 2004, the RCA established the Vaad Hatzedek policy and procedures regarding allegations of impropriety against an RCA member (http://www.rabbis.org/news/article.cfm?id=100551). The RCA will post information about these procedures, with an easy link to communicating with the proper persons, on the home page of its website.



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RCA's Vaad HaTzedek
Policy and Procedures Regarding Allegations of Impropriety Against an RCA Member

To view the RCA's procedures for receiving and responding to allegations of impropriety against a member, click here.
To discuss confidentially concerns you may have, contact Rabbi Mark Dratch, Executive Vice President, at mdratch@rabbis.org or 212-807-9000.

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