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Statement on Rabbi Mordecai Tendler
Statement in the Matter of the Investigation of Rabbi Mordecai Tendler
News Headlines
Apr 12, 2005 -- In regard to The Rabbinical Council of America investigation and expulsion of Rabbi Mordecai Tendler, the RCA determined that it would not issue any public statement beyond the formal findings of the Vaad and the Executive Committee. However, in light of a concerted campaign to mischaracterize, misrepresent, and distort both the process and its outcome, as well as to demean the eminent and distinguished rabbis who were part of the process, the RCA has elected to make the following statement:

1. The year long investigation took that extended time because the Vaad Hakavod made every effort to follow all the relevant halachic, legal, as well as moral, guidelines and laws, both as regards procedure and substance. The investigation benefited from the advice and guidance of recognized and respected experts in halachah, American law, and psychology. The findings were based on the evidence gathered during the course of the investigation, both on the telephone and in person, and both by outside investigators and members of the Vaad itself. Accordingly, we stand by both the procedural fairness of the proceedings and, equally important, the substantive result reached by us.

2. The investigation was not, and never purported to be, in the nature of a Beit Din proceeding. The RCA constitution calls for a panel of peers to review the activities of a rabbi accused of misbehavior. This is called a Beis Din Hakavod, or a Vaad Hakavod, which has always been understood as referring to an administrative process, not a Beit Din proceeding. This was made clear throughout to the accused and his counsel. As mandated by our constitution, it was an administrative proceeding of a religious organization, entitled to determine in a manner it chooses, who is and who is not fit to be a member.

3. The accused was given repeated opportunities prior to the issuance of the decision to respond to the charges as shared with him, as well as to appear in an appropriate hearing and face his accusers. However he, through his legal counsel, as well as through his wife, clearly and unambiguously turned down in writing such invitations to appear before the Vaad Hakavod. He requested instead that we rely on his written submissions, which we did, in addition to statements made by him in an interview by an independent investigator commissioned by the Vaad Hakavod. Only after the decision was communicated to him, did he offer to appear before the Vaad Hakavod.

4. Any claims or statements to the contrary, be they from rabbis in America or Israel, legal counsel, publicists, journalists, family members, or others, are based on either willful denial of fact or on ignorance resulting from one-sided representations.

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