Sunday, November 9, 2014

Complaints against R Barry Freundel were silenced by the label of lashon harah

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.”[...]


  1. With all due respect, the Washington Post article that the above quotes are from is a silly hit piece. Kesher and BF were quite liberal/modern. The open orthodox/neo conservative movement's regressions that he fought, are to BF's credit!

    While assessing a potential convert, it is within the Beis Din's responsibility to ascertain that it is a sincere conversion - not one for a relationship... Other comments though, were unacceptable.

    Based upon this article, the complaints arising in 2,000 were insignificant and highly normal for a MO congregation.
    * Too brusque
    * He wasn't making pastoral visits.
    *He was raising money to build a mikvah.

    Big deal! The anti slander letter seems to be a perfect response. They had the ability to bring all their complaints to the board of Kesher. As we see from the fact that the board contacted the police, that would have been a logical step to contact the board with serious concerns - and the board would have acted if they felt there was a significant problem. But, nit picking by bored congregants should be inconsequential.

  2. yes! I agree, the board acted properly then, and now as well, irrespective of whether they are MO- or more correctly, shomer torah umitzvos.
    The point that you might be missing is that the Washington Post did not find this laudatory.... this artlcle implies, however faintly, that invoking lashon harah was not the way to go. and of course- it was. and is. Hindsight is 20/20, so of course no one could have known anything in 2000- if in fact there was anything in 2000.

  3. The point that you might be missing is that the Washington Post did not find this laudatory

    That was my point. The W post put out a hit piece here. Invoking lashon harah to quiet down silly complaints and bickering is proper and just.

  4. washington post is not known to be a supporter of jewish causes. yes, invoking lashon harah is correct. more shuls should do that on a regular basis


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