(JTA) – The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) has formed a committee to review its conversion process in the wake of the arrest on voyeurism charges of one of its leading conversion rabbis.
The RCA announced Wednesday the men and women appointed to a committee to review its current Geirus Protocol and Standards conversion process and suggest safeguards against possible abuses.
The RCA committed to forming the committee following the arrest two weeks ago of Rabbi Barry Freundel of Washington’s prominent Kesher Israel congregation. Rabbi Freundel, who was arrested at his Washington home and charged with voyeurism after a witness allegedly saw him installing a clock radio with a hidden camera in the women’s showers of the congregation’s mikvah, not guilty to voyeurism District of Columbia Superior Court.
Rabbi Freundel, who was suspended from his position at the synagogue, also was suspended by the RCA, which extended the ban to his activities with the Beth-Din of America, suspending his functions as one of the leading conversion rabbis in the United States.
“The RCA recognizes the inherent sensitivities and vulnerabilities involved in the conversion process and will do all it can to ensure that such victimization will never be repeated. We believe the formation of this committee, reflecting a cross section of our community, is an important first step in this regard,” RCA President Rabbi Leonard Matanky said in a statement announcing the committee.
The committee is chaired by Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, honorary president of the RCA and rabbi of Ahavath Torah in Englewood, NJ. Two female converts to Judaism are on the committee, as well as a female teacher of family purity laws, a psychotherapist, and several rabbis including some involved in conversions.
The committee has been asked to report its findings and recommendations to the RCA Executive Committee by Jan. 31, 2015.