Washington Post [....] About 2000, divisions at Kesher over the rabbi’s behavior became more severe. Some complaints were fairly mundane — that his style was too brusque and that he wasn’t making pastoral visits. A few people alleged that Freundel was diverting money donated for the synagogue to his effort to build a mikvah. Epstein, a past synagogue president, recalled that the conflict was resolved after the board appointed a committee to decide how to spend the money.
At one point, there were enough people bad-mouthing Freundel that some board members drafted a document calling for an end to criticism of the rabbi. The document uses the term “lashon hara,” meaning slanderous, negative talk, which is considered sinful in Judaism.
“We propose to bind ourselves and invite others to do the same . . . to cease to participate in any Lashon Hara, to stop listening to insinuations and attacks, to disassociate ourselves from them, and finally to respond forcefully in opposition to Lashon Hara” against the rabbi, the document stated.
“The majority of the congregation supported him, and the continued sniping was not consistent with the mores of the congregation,” said Epstein, who drafted the letter. People’s criticisms over the years “had no foresight approximating anything like what has happened.”[...]