Investigators in Freundel Case Seeking Photos

101714_mikvah_smThe Metropolitan Police Department is asking anyone who used the National Capital Mikvah in Georgetown to submit his or her photo to the department as part of the ongoing investigation into Rabbi Barry Freundel, who was charged Tuesday with voyeurism.

Freundel is accused of making secret video recordings of at least six women in the bathroom and shower area of the National Capital Mikvah as they dressed and undressed during their visit to the mikvah.

At least one D.C. woman who has used the mikvah decided to submit her photograph. Rabbi Freundel “is someone I trusted,” said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous. “He is the leader of the Jewish community. When you say his name, everyone knows it.”

The woman, who converted to Judaism through the Conservative Movement, had approached Freundel about receiving an Orthodox conversion. During that conversation, he told her he would take her to the mikvah for a practice dunk, even though she didn’t have the $25 fee with her.

Freundel did come into the shower room and talk to her there. She did not undress in his presence, the woman said.

“At this point, in hindsight, I feel like I was coerced into doing something that was beneficial to him, not me,” she said. “I am totally in dismay. I had so much respect for him,” she said.

Those who believe they were may have been a victim in this case should email Det. George DeSilva at george.desilva@dc.gov with a picture of their face and contact information, using “mikvah case” as the subject line.

Suzanne Pollack is a reporter at Washington Jewish Week, the Jewish Times’ sister publication.

Freundel, facing six voyeurism charges, ordered to stay away from synagogue, converts

Rabbi Barry Freundel, mobbed by reporters as he is leaving D.C. Superior Court after his arraignment on six voyeurism charges on Oct. 15. (Photo by Dmitriy Shapiro)

Rabbi Barry Freundel, mobbed by reporters as he is leaving D.C. Superior Court after his arraignment on six voyeurism charges on Oct. 15. (Photo by Dmitriy Shapiro)

Shuffling into Superior Court Magistrate Judge William Nooter’s courtroom late Wednesday in ankle chains and handcuffs, a black kippah atop his head and a grave, pensive expression on his face, Rabbi Barry Freundel entered a plea of not guilty to six charges of voyeurism.

The rabbi’s wife, Sharon, and a young woman who appeared to be the rabbi’s daughter, sat emotionless in the gallery as they had the entire day waiting for the preliminary arraignment.

In contrast to their apparent stoicism, Emma Shulevitz, 27, of Rockville, one of the alleged victims in the case was outspoken in her reaction to being allegedly recorded undressing before a practice run of her mikvah ceremony required as part of her conversion to Judaism.

“I feel violated,” she said. “The ceremony is supposed to be between a woman and God and not between a woman and her rabbi.”

Freundel, who had served as head rabbi at the Modern Orthodox Kesher Israel synagogue in Georgetown and is currently suspended without pay, is accused of making secret video recordings of women in the bathroom and shower area of the National Capital Mikvah, which is separated from the main synagogue by a courtyard. Although a separate legal entity for tax and legal purposes, the mikvah is affiliated with the synagogue.

According to a report by investigators with the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) obtained by Washington Jewish Week, police were notified of the surreptitious recording device by an individual associated with the mikvah on Oct. 12, who also reported witnessing Freundel plugging in and operating the recording device secreted in a Dream Machine digital clock radio while she was setting up the mikvah’s showers. Freundel said that he was using it “for ventilation of the shower area.”

Police obtained a search warrant for the recording device on the very next day and reviewed numerous sets of recordings stored on the camera’s memory card.

The first three recordings on the camera’s memory card, timestamped June 2, capture three women separately “partially undressing” or changing clothes in view of the camera. The second occasion, timestamped Sept. 13, the camera recorded the face and voice of Freundel appearing to adjust the camera’s display time and “positioning it on the counter to face the shower stall area.” Six more recordings on the same day included four women “undressed or changing clothes” before entering the shower and drying off after.

A third set of videos dated Oct. 6, shows the rabbi again positioning the camera, followed by a video of when the camera was discovered. Because the camera was discovered on Oct. 12, at least on this day, the camera’s timestamp was behind by six days.

According to the criminal complaint obtained by WJW, none of the women depicted on the videos had knowledge of the recordings or gave consent for them. Also, according to the complaint, an operating manual for the recording device was found in the rabbi’s bedroom and was seized as evidence. A preliminary examination of a computer seized from Freundel’s residence at the time of his arrest contained files downloaded from the camera’s memory card.

Freundel’s attorney, Jeffrey Harris, a partner with the D.C. law firm of Rubin, Winston, Diercks, Harris & Cooke LLP, entered the rabbi’s not guilty plea on his client’s behalf, requested pre-trial discovery and further asked that Freundel be released on his own recognizance (without a monetary bond) pending trial.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sharon Marcus-Kurn argued that Freundel is a flight risk, asked the court to order Freundel not to leave the country and to outfit Freundel with an ankle-strapped GPS tracking device. The prosecutor further asked the judge to order that Freundel stay away from women whose conversions he supervised and any others associated with the mikvah, Kesher Israel or the mikvah building.

Harris responded by saying that although the defense accepts the “stay away” orders and the travel restriction, he did not view the electronic monitoring as necessary, as he believes the rabbi will appear at future court dates.

“With all due respect, your honor,” said Harris, “I’ve seen this court hear worse offenders and flight risks today than Freundel” without ordering electronic monitoring. “I believe the defendant will obey court orders and I do not believe” the taxpayer expense is necessary.

The back and forth continued as the prosecution describe why it believes the rabbi is a flight risk.

As someone who was responsible for conversions and upholding [Jewish] laws, “the defendant has proven that he has no respect for those laws” by recording women on multiple occasions over a period of time, said Marcus-Kurn. “[The defendant] has violated laws up into heaven and down — and that’s according to the defendant’s laws.”

Marcus-Kurn also added that although so far none of the evidence indicates violence or felonies, the investigation is still in its early stages.

“The GPS monitor is only asked for by the government because of the visibility [of the case] and not the charges,” responded Harris. “Why that makes him a flight risk, I don’t know.”

The magistrate sided with the defense on the monitoring issue in light of Freundel’s lack of a prior criminal record. Yet, he ordered Freundel to report in person to pretrial services (probation) every week before the trial begins. He also granted the government’s request to hold on to Freundel’s passport.

Freundel left the courthouse with his wife and the young woman in a chauffeured SUV, declining to answer questions from a mob of reporters, so numerous that they broke the escalator leading out of the courthouse.

Freundel is scheduled to reappear in D.C. Superior Court at 9:30 a.m. on Nov. 12 for a status hearing.

Read the latest update.

Dmitriy Shapiro is political reporter at Washington Jewish Week, the Jewish Times’ sister publication.

A Bookworm’s Delight

Author and songwriter Barry Lou Polisar records his self-written songs. He is one of the nine authors presenting at the Jewish Literary Festival. (Provided)

Author and songwriter Barry Lou Polisar records his self-written songs. He is one of the nine authors presenting at the Jewish Literary Festival. (Provided)

The Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore is inviting readers young and old to come face-to-face with their favorite authors at its Oct. 26 Jewish Literary Festival and Local Author Fair at The Gordon Center for Performing Arts in Owings Mills.

The one-day event starts at 1 p.m. and showcases three-to-five-minute TED-style talks with selected writers.

“This is the first time we have ever done this type of program,” said Melissa Berman, the JCC’s assistant director of arts and culture. “We are hoping to attract art lovers throughout the Jewish Baltimore community.”

Featuring authors Zackary Sholem Berger, Sydney Krome, Wendy Cohen, Carl Jacobs, Ed Kleiman, Barry Louis Polisar, Susan Schneider, Judy Pestonk and Judy Pachino, the event also includes a viewing of  the film “Rock the Casbah” and opportunities to meet and purchase guest authors’ books.

“This is a 21st-century approach to encourage reading books,” said JCC film festival coordinator Danielle Feinstein, who helped plan the book fair. “There is something so special about reading novels from cover to cover. When you first open a book, you have no idea what adventure is in store. I hope the book fair can inspire more people to read.”

Polisar will discuss his new book, “Retelling Genesis.” Originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., he spent most of his life in Maryland. His latest claim to fame is “All I Want is You,” a song he wrote and performed to open the Academy Award-winning film “Juno.”

“I am a man of many hats,” said Polisar. “I began recording in 1975 and published my first book in 1985. Many people have heard my songs or read my stories without even realizing it. My newest creation takes a step away from children’s books and songs, as I delve into my Jewish roots.”

Raised as a secular Jew, Polisar claims that his bar mitzvah was “the first and last time his family entered a synagogue growing up.” After joining Shaare Tefila Congregation in Montgomery County, he became more invested in religion.

“When my wife and I had kids, we enrolled them in the local synagogue nursery school and then the Hebrew school,” said Polisar. “When they were required to attend services, I promised them that I would never drop them off at the door and leave but would always attend as well. During the Torah service each week, I read things as an adult that I had never read before — and discovered layers of subtlety and nuance in stories I thought I knew.”

Joining Rabbi Jonah Layman’s Torah class 14 years ago, Polisar used his new Jewish learning as inspirations for books. After penning “Telling the Story: A Passover Haggadah Explained” — an alternative look at the Passover story — Polisar wrote “Retelling Genesis” as a means to retell the stories from the Book of Genesis through the secondary characters’ points of view.

“‘Retelling Genesis’ puts the background characters in the limelight,” said Polisar. “I feel like I had been waiting for a project like this.”As a primarily secular writer, Polisar feels his Jewish roots spill into his mainstream pieces.

“Other than the Haggadah I adapted and wrote, most of my books are for children and are considered secular. However, if you look at my secular books from a Jewish point of view, you’d see many Jewish values and ideas — respect for animals and the earth; listening to alternative viewpoints; looking at things from two different perspectives — all very Talmudic and Jewish,” he said.

He said he was looking forward to sharing his work with other “Jewish bookworms.”

“My TED talk will mainly discuss the book and how I was inspired to write it,” said Polisar. “We are meant to wrestle with these stories, and I hope what I have written will inspire others to go back and read the original narratives, question and engage.”

For more information, go to jcc.org/Gordon-center/Gordon-center.

 

afreedman@jewishtimes.com

Painting the Holocaust

101714_goucher2Two panels, 125 drawings and endless stories to tell. Using small pen and ink, pencil and watercolor paint, acclaimed artist and illustrator Nancy Patz carefully brought artifacts of the Holocaust to life. They are on display through Dec. 4 at the Goucher College Library.

“The Artifacts Drawings” showcases artifacts from Holocaust museums in Washington, D.C., Jerusalem, Houston, New York City and the Jewish Museum of Maryland in Baltimore.

“Six million people died in the Holocaust. That is a huge number to digest,” said Patz. “Through my art, I wanted to show individual stories. Each person who died in the Holocaust was an individual. As the survivors of the Holocaust slowly die out, we need to turn our attention to the artifacts to help remember each story.”

Along with the art, there is a case display of Holocaust artifacts from the Lowy family. For the exhibition, Goucher Theatre Department chair Michael Curry and Baltimore artist Peter Bruun devised a 14-minute video to accompany the drawings. Narrated by Goucher students and faculty, the video shares the stories behind the artifacts and features music composed by Goucher students.

“We wanted to capture it on film. The video pans across the drawings and talks about the importance of the artifacts and the stories,” said Patz. A native Baltimorean, Patz attended Goucher College before finishing her undergraduate degree at Stanford University. Devoting her career to illustrating children’s books, Patz won the Association of Jewish Libraries’ Sydney Taylor Award for “Who Was the Woman Who Wore the Hat?” Inspired by an artifact she saw at the Jewish

Historical Museum in Amsterdam, she wrote and illustrated the introductory book to ease people into Holocaust studies. That book helped pave the way to her newest collection.

“I was moved by the hat,” said Patz. “I found all these questions running through my head. Who was the woman? What was her life like? I translated the ideas in my head to a comprehensive book. [It] helped inspire and really pioneer this exhibit.”

A fan of the book, editor Karen Shaw asked Patz to illustrate her 2014 issue of “PRISM: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Holocaust Educators.” After her artwork was published in the Yeshiva University journal, Patz and Shaw wanted to cast the net even further.

“After PRISM was published and the drawings received such high praise, we wished that they could serve a wider educational purpose — reach more people, especially students, who, we thought, would benefit from the study of artifacts as a way to learn about the Holocaust,” said Patz.“The Artifacts Drawings” was born.

“Karen said, ‘Education.’ I said, ‘Goucher!’” said Patz. “I’d attended Goucher long ago, and my books, sketches, etc. are in the Special Collections Library there. I know from experience that Goucher is a thriving, stimulating place, and I immediately called Nancy Magnuson, director of the library, who involved Lynne Lyon, president of the Friends of the Library, and the rest of the library team. The rest, as they say, is history.”

Highlights of the exhibit include a wedding dress worn by brides in a displaced persons camp, a teddy bear named Refugee and a prayer book bought with bread. One of her favorite portraits was of a Torah that was taken during Kristallnacht. “I remember seeing the Torah at the Lloyd Street Synagogue in

Baltimore,” said Patz. “I remember holding it and touching it. I was shaking. This Torah is still used regularly. This is what I mean by these artifacts have stories.

History student Justine Ruhlin participated in the exhibit as a graduating senior at Goucher College.

“As the student coordinator of this exhibit, I’m thrilled that I could cap my experience at Goucher with this project,” said Ruhlin. “This project provides a new way to commemorate the stories of the Holocaust.”

The exhibit will also be on display from March 11 to April 30 at the Anne Frank Center USA in New York.

“This project was painful to draw. I drew them like they were portraits. I could feel a responsibility in retelling the stories,” said Patz. “It is so wild that it will travel after Baltimore. I want as many people to see this project as possible.”

 

afreedman@jewishtimes.com

‘Glue That Holds Us Together’

101714_shabbosPut down your cell phones and grab a prayer book, because the Shabbos Project is coming to Baltimore. From sundown to nightfall on Oct. 24-25, the project is encouraging locals to join Jews around the world and keep Shabbat for one weekend.

Starting in South Africa in October 2013, the Shabbos Project introduced many Jews to Shabbat observance for the first time, say organizers. Going global this year, more than 212 cities — including Baltimore — in 33 countries will participate in the 25-hour event. Festivities will begin with a women’s Challah Bake at the Owings Mills JCC on Oct. 23 at 6:30 p.m. and conclude with a Jewish Unity Havdallah service and concert at the Park Heights JCC on Oct. 25 at 8:30 p.m.

“Shabbat is a common denominator for all Jews. It is the glue that holds us all together,” said Rabbi Nitzan Bergman, executive director of the Etz Chaim Center for Jewish Living and Learning, which is coordinating the Shabbos Project in Baltimore. “We are tailoring our events to be more specific to Baltimore and hope to reach as many people as possible.”

Geared toward people who do not always observe Shabbat, the project hopes to inspire people to keep Shabbat more frequently. Max Abelson, a former master’s student at the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University, is coming down from Philadelphia to participate in the event. Raised as a secular Jew, he became more involved in Judaism after meeting Berman during his time in Baltimore.

“I do not keep Shabbat regularly, and I cannot wait to come down for this weekend,” said  Abelson. “This is such an important initiative. The Baltimore Jewish community really elevated my involvement in Judaism, and I cannot wait to take part in the weekend’s events.”

Playing trumpet in the Saturday night concert, Abelson will take the stage with Diaspora Yeshiva Band member Avraham Rosenblum in the debut of the Brisket Brothers.

“I am known as the ‘Rockin’ Rabbi,’ and I can’t wait to perform in the Shabbos Project,” said Rosenblum. “When I heard about the Shabbos Project, I felt inspired. I volunteered my services because I feel like just being in each other’s presence during Shabbat is important.”

Helping run the Challah Bake, Jen Gaither hopes to encourage women to come out for that event.

“The Challah Bake is a time for Jewish women to bake challah together on the Thursday evening leading up to the Shabbos Project,” said Gaither. “Baking challah is a powerful and easy way for Jewish women to connect with their culture and religion and for mothers to show their daughters that Judaism is important and relevant to them. Just as they shape the challah, women can help shape the world they want for their daughters.”

Gaither believes people should take a break from their daily lives and enjoy the beauty of Shabbat.

“When the boundaries between work and home have faded and technology is a constant distraction, families need a time to unplug and connect,” she said. “And we all need to be reminded that there is something bigger than our egos. Committing to one Shabbat is a very doable way to do this. Individuality is important but not more important than community and relationships, so let’s all observe one Shabbat together to bring back that balance in our lives.”

Rabbi Moshe Hauer of Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion Congregation is looking forward to the event and cannot wait to see how it impacts the Baltimore community.

“It is a magnificent project, and I encourage all to participate,” he said. “Whether you celebrate Shabbat regularly or not, Shabbat is a beautiful weekly unifier and is meant to be observed by everyone.”

For more information, visit website.

 

afreedman@jewishtimes.com

The Final Divorce?

Nabil Abuznaid, the Palestinian Authority's ambassador to the Netherlands, is less than than enthused at the P.A.’s plan to expose Israel to war crimes charges. It’s a “one way move, no way back,” he said. (Courtesy James Madison University)

Nabil Abuznaid, the Palestinian Authority’s ambassador to the Netherlands, is less than than enthused at the P.A.’s plan to expose Israel to war crimes charges. It’s a “one way move, no way back,” he said. (Courtesy James Madison University)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Loading a newly released video of a beheading in Syria on his smartphone, Nabil Abuznaid, the Palestinians’ ambassador here, shakes his head in disbelief.

“Look at those animals,” he said, referring to the fighters from the ISIS jihadist group who carried out the decapitation. “Do you think Israelis are immune from this craziness? Me, I’m even more scared of this fundamentalism.”

To Abuznaid, who has represented the Palestinian Authority in the Netherlands for the past five years, such barbarity is a sign that the Israelis and Palestinians should resolve their differences peacefully and stand united against the shared threat of extremism.

But on Abuznaid’s desk, under a life-size portrait of the late PLO leader Yasser Arafat, are documents connected to a move that could undo 24 years of efforts to find common ground: The Palestinian Authority’s plan to expose Israel to war crimes charges at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Abuznaid said he is advancing the motion with little enthusiasm. But if P.A. Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki is to be believed, within the year the Palestinian Authority will accede to the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC in 1998, which would give the U.N. tribunal jurisdiction to probe war crimes investigations against Israel.

Both the Palestinians and Israelis consider the move a game-changer, a step after which a negotiated two-state solution may be all but impossible.

“This is not the Palestinian preferred choice because going to the ICC is the final divorce: one-way move, no way back,” said Abuznaid, 60, a former lecturer in international relations from Hebron who spent a few months in an Israeli jail in the 1980s for his membership in the PLO. “I don’t think Palestinians and Israelis are ready for a final divorce.”

If the Palestinians move ahead with their plans, it is Abuznaid who will be the P.A.’s point person on the matter. Abuznaid said his family is from Haifa, where they lived before Israel’s establishment in 1948, when they left along with hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled or were driven out of Israeli-controlled areas during the War of Independence.

As a young man, Abuznaid believed in the Palestine Liberation Organi-zation’s strand of radicalism. He was a self-described revolutionary who thought Israel had to be destroyed. But over time his politics have softened, and today even his Israeli detractors consider him a pragmatist.

“Let the person who is living in my family’s house in Haifa enjoy the beach there, and I will enjoy my life in Hebron and we can be friends,” he said. “There is no choice but todivide the land.”

Equipped with good English and a political science degree from James Madison University in Virginia, Abuznaid climbed the PLO ranks to become a personal adviser to Arafat, serving under him during the Oslo negotiations. Abuznaid later returned to the United States to serve as deputy head of the Palestinian Authority’s mission in Washington, D.C., among other positions. His wife, Lubna, and their two children are living in the United States.

“Abroad I’m a diplomat who receives the red carpet. But when I return home, I need to wait in my car for a boy the age of my son who’s treating me like I’m barely human,” he said of the soldiers who check his papers when he crosses the Allenby Bridge between Jordan and the West Bank.

Unlike his position on checkpoints — a longstanding Palestinian gripe — Abuznaid’s reluctant attitude to the ICC move seems out of sync
with Ramallah’s public defiance. Yet, despite the rhetoric, it’s not clear how eagerly the Palestinians are to play the ICC card.

In July, the Palestinian Authority’s justice minister and the general prosecutor in Gaza sent an official request for an ICC investigation of alleged war crimes committed by Israel this summer during its campaign against Hamas in Gaza. The following month, during Maliki’s visit to The Hague, he told reporters that
accession is “only a matter of time and will occur this year.”

But a letter from ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, leaked last month, states that Maliki was asked to confirm the request contained in the July letter and declined to do so.

“A decision was taken to go ahead with the ICC move, yes,” Abuznaid said. “But it’s not final until the papers are submitted. So it’s still something that can be avoided. Because if we realize the ICC option, what then? How would we go forward with the peace process? The day we sign, things will be different between us and the Israelis.”

It’s impossible to know if Abuznaid’s qualms may merely be part of a strategy that keeps the ICC option as a bargaining chip in the Palestinians’ diplomatic chess match with Israel or if he is expressing a genuine aversion to what could be a grand but ineffective gesture.

Haim Divon, Abuznaid’s counterpart at the Israeli Embassy in The Hague, believes it’s the latter.

“As a pragmatist, Mr. Abuznaid knows an ICC bid would lead nowhere and only poison the atmosphere,” Divon said.

Abuznaid and Divon know each other well from appearing together in so many forums that Divon once jokingly referred to the configuration as “The Haim and Nabil Show.” They have their disagreements, including over Abuznaid’s drawing of parallels between the Holocaust and the Palestinian exodus of 1948, but the relationship has remained cordial.

Asked about his relationship with Divon, Abuznaid said, “If it were only up to him and me, I think we would sign a peace agreement pretty soon.”

Prominent Rabbi, Towson Professor Arrested

Rabbi Barry Freundel has been suspended without pay. (File photo)

Rabbi Barry Freundel has been suspended without pay. (File photo)

Rabbi Barry Freundel of Kesher Israel Congregation in Georgetown was arrested Tuesday morning at his home in the 3000 block of O Street N.W. by Washington D.C. Metro Police. Freundel, 62, was charged with voyeurism, according to Officer Hugh Carew, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Department.

Freundel, who was suspended without pay from the position he has held since 1989, was to have appeared in Superior Court of the District of Columbia on Wednesday. He was also suspended from Towson University, where he was a faculty member in the department of philosophy and religious studies.

A member of Kesher Israel with intimate knowledge of the case against Freundel confirmed that the investigation centers around a camera or cameras placed in the National Capital Mikvah, a Jewish ritual bath located in a synagogue-owned building adjoining the congregation. The mikvah and the synagogue are separate legal entities, according to tax documents.

According to the D.C. criminal code, the crime of voyeurism exists when a person unlawfully maintains a peephole, mirror or any electronic device for the purpose of secretly or surreptitiously observing an individual who is: using a bathroom, totally or partially undressed or changing, or engaged in sexual activity, without the consent of that individual and in an area where a person would expect privacy.

Voyeurism is graded as a misdemeanor under most circumstances, but the charge can be upgraded to a felony if the defendant distributes the spied-upon material.

As a misdemeanor, the maximum penalty for voyeurism is imprisonment of no more than one year or a $2,500 fine or both. Graded as a felony, the charge carries a maximum penalty of not more than five years in prison and a fine of up to $12,500.

While Freundel has been charged with voyeurism, his mere arrest is not conclusive of his guilt.

To be lawful, an arrest must be supported by probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. The government’s burden of proof to convict Freundel at trial, as with any criminal defendant, is proof beyond a reasonable doubt, a much higher standard.

“This is a painful moment for Kesher Israel Congregation and the entire Jewish community,” the synagogue’s board of directors said in a statement shortly after news of the charges broke. “At this challenging time, we draw strength from our faith, our tradition, and our fellow congregants.”

The statement acknowledged that the board was aware of allegations against Freundel prior to his arrest.

“Upon receiving information regarding potentially inappropriate activity, the board of directors quickly alerted the appropriate officials,” said the statement, which went on to emphasize that the synagogue reamins open “as a place of learning, prayer and community.” “Throughout the investigation, we cooperated fully with law enforcement and will continue to do so.”

The synagogue has retained the Gibson Dunn law firm, the same firm hired by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in the fallout over closures on the George Washington Bridge that were said to be politically motivated. As of press time, it was not known who represents Freundel.

Tuesday morning, uniformed police and plainclothes officers were seen leading away in handcuffs a man whom neighbors said was Freundel, according to Washingtonian magazine. Police were later seen removing computers and other items, according to that report.

Rabbi Herzl Kranz of the Silver Spring Jewish Center said he was saddened to hear the news.

“It’s a tragedy. It’s a tragedy for all Jews as well,” the rabbi said. He quickly added all the facts must be known before judging his fellow Orthodox rabbi.

Freundel received his ordination from Yeshiva University. He has served as an adjunct instructor at the University of Maryland, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and a consultant to an ethics review board at the National Institutes of Health. He heads the conversion committee at the Rabbinical Council of America and is author of “Contemporary Orthodox Judaism’s Response to Modernity” and “Why We Pray What We Pray.”

In a Sept. 18 article in Washington Jewish Week about the state of Orthodox Judaism, Freundel is quoted about the leading reasons for divorce. “The lack of sexual morality that pervades this society is all over the place, and the Orthodox community, no matter how traditional, is not immune from this, and it creates terrible problems,” said Freundel. “Pornography and its accessibility is wrecking marriages.

“It’s two keystrokes away,” he continued. “You get on the computer, you hit the button twice and you’re there. I have not counseled a couple in any level of relationship in the last five years where pornography hasn’t been an issue.”

Read our update on this story here.

spollak@washingtonjewishweek.com
dshapiro@washingtonjewishweek.com

Heating Up

-The Republican candidate for District 10 delegate filed a motion last week to have one of the three Democratic candidates, Hasan “Jay” Jalisi, removed from the Nov. 4 general election ballot over residency concerns.

The move follows months of speculation over Jalisi’s address. His candidacy filings report an address on Reisterstown Road in Owings Mills, but in campaign contributions to other candidates, tax records and phone book listings, he has been tied to an address on Greenspring Avenue in Lutherville-Timonium, which would make him a resident of District 11. Other official documentation, such elections and court records, list his address as a suite at Greenspring Station, but the postal service confirmed that the listing is a P.O. box, not a physical address.

William Newton filed an official complaint with the state Board of Elections and a writ with Anne Arundel County Circuit Court on Oct. 7 alleging that Jalisi is not a resident of District 10 and requesting that he be removed from the ballot. The petition also claims Jalisi is in violation of state election law by serving on the Democratic Central Committee for District 10 without residing in the district.

Maryland law refers to domicile in issues of residency. The 1998 court case Blount v. Boston established that, in Maryland, “domicile” does not necessarily need to be the place the person in question actually lives. Rather, it refers to a place the person has a settled connection, where they conduct their affairs. As such, it is difficult to prove a candidate’s domicile when, as in the case of Jalisi, the candidate is in the real estate business and owns several properties.

“It, in large measure, has to do with one’s objective intention to make [any one place] their permanent home,” Larry Gibson, a University of Maryland professor who teaches an election law course, told the JT in June. Essentially, Jalisi’s domicile is wherever he feels most connected.

The Board of Elections reported having heard talk about Jalisi’s residency, but Donna Duncan, assistant deputy administrator for election policy, said the deadline to challenge any candidate’s residency with the board passed in March 2014. The content and arrangement of the ballot was finalized in September.

State Sen. Delores Kelley, who has represented the District 10 area in the General Assembly since 1991, has also heard the complaints about Jalisi.

“It’s disheartening,” she said. “Anybody in the state should be concerned.”

Kelley and the only incumbent delegate in District 10, Del. Adrienne Jones, both backed different candidates in the June primary. Jalisi, who had no endorsements from any legislators in June, collected more votes than all three of the official-backed candidates in the primary election, falling short of only Jones when all votes were tallied.

Jalisi has maintained that his residence is the Reisterstown Road address, out of which he also runs his campaign office.

Jalisi and Newton are in a five-person race for three District 10 delegate seats. In addition to the incumbent Jones, a Democrat, other candidates include Democrat Benjamin Brooks and write-in Democrat Michael Tyrone Brown Sr. The Board of Elections’ Duncan said any action from this point on is in the hands of the Anne Arundel Court. As of press time, the court had not responded.

 

hnorris@jewishtimes.com

Protective Order

A handful of Secret Service agents surround President Barack Obama after disembarking from Air Force One. In contrast, at a recent luncheon in New York, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was accompanied by nearly 30 security personnel. (Pete Souza/White House)

A handful of Secret Service agents surround President Barack Obama after disembarking from Air Force One. In contrast, at a recent luncheon in New York, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was accompanied by nearly 30 security personnel. (Pete Souza/White House)

What’s the cure for the recent ills of the United States Secret Service? American officials might consider taking some advice from their Israeli counterparts at the Shin Bet security agency.

White House security breaches have sent the Secret Service scrambling to restructure itself in order to prevent similar or more serious mistakes in the future. But former Israeli security and intelligence officials note that the Shin Bet, which also protects top dignitaries, has virtually the same tactics, rules of engagement and training procedures as its American equivalent — without experiencing the same hiccups, at least in recent years. In 1995, the Shin Bet did experience its own crisis following the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

“I don’t think [Israel’s protection of dignitaries] is different from what the Americans do,” said former Israeli Mossad agent Gad Shimron, who was never part of the Shin Bet’s VIP security service but is familiar with its operations. “It’s the same training, more or less. It’s like the training of an elite soldier, whether he is in the Israeli army or the American army. Maybe there are little differences, but the basic training is the same, the aim of the service is the same.”

Another former senior Israeli security official said that working on culture, rather than changing tactics or overhauling organizational structure, can help the Secret Service fix its problems.

“Every organization is built out of people, procedures and culture,” said the official, who asked to remain anonymous. “So if this is true, take out the written procedures, take out the people one by one as private individuals, and try to figure out whether there is something left.”

Shimron said that even if agencies such as the Secret Service are guarding dignitaries 24/7, all it takes is “two seconds of carelessness” for a disaster like an assassination.

“Or in this case, I’m sure that the White House normally is very well-guarded, but somehow, for reasons I can’t really tell you because I don’t know all the details, someone managed to jump over the fence and run into the White House,” he said.

Questions were raised about the effectiveness of the Secret Service after Omar Gonzalez, carrying a knife, on Sept. 19 jumped the White House fence, ran inside the front door and passed the presidential living quarters into the East Room, where he was stopped by an off-duty agent.

More embarrassment for the agency came when leaks to the media uncovered that President Barack Obama, while visiting the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, rode in an elevator with an armed security guard who possessed a criminal record and proceeded to take pictures of the president.

The last straw came with the revelation that the Secret Service delayed confessing that shots fired at the White House in 2011 hit their target. Initial reports on the incident had said that all of the shots missed the building.

After a heated House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Sept. 29 in which lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expressed their lost confidence in the leadership of Julia Pierson, the Secret Service’s director, Pierson resigned. Her post was quickly given to former U.S. special agent Joseph Clancy, who came out of retirement to act as interim director.

Pierson, who assumed the position in March 2013, had succeeded Mark Sullivan, who resigned after it was reported that 11 agents engaged with prostitutes while they were on a trip with the president to a summit in Colombia.

The former Israeli security official commended Pierson’s resignation, saying that when a director of such an agency steps down, it sends the message to citizens that the concept of responsibility is still important.

In Israel, the Shin Bet has a dual role: part VIP security agency and part anti-terrorism organization. With a large portion of its members coming from other Israeli intelligence agencies, the anti-terrorism branch offers protective service agents on the ground with clear alerts on threats.

The Shin Bet’s meticulousness was recently demonstrated in a visit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who came to the U.S. to attend the U.N. General Assembly. Reporting on a dinner between Netanyahu and Jewish philanthropist Sheldon Adelson at a New York City restaurant, a New York Post reporter mused about the 30 security personnel tagging along — closing off the block and making the restaurant’s patrons go through a metal detector.

Yet, the Shin Bet is also no stranger to security failures, in particular the 1995 assassination of Rabin by an Israeli extremist.

“That was the equivalent of the JFK assassination in America, in terms of the shock waves domestically and worldwide — and the humiliation that the bodyguards experienced,” said Dan Raviv, a CBS News correspondent who co-authored the book “Spies Against Armageddon,” which offers a history of Israeli security and espionage. “Shin Bet veterans told me that they did not imagine that an Israeli Jew would murder his own country’s prime minister. They had, in effect, been on the lookout only for threats that Arab attackers might pose.”

Shimron said that Israeli intelligence became aware of a possible internal threat to Rabin after he signed the Oslo Peace Accords. That turned out not to be enough to prevent the assassination. After the murder, the Shin Bet went through its own upheaval, which included the resignation of its director and a change in tactics.

The Shin Bet shifted its focus when protecting dignitaries toward surrounding them with agents, preferably those who were taller and bigger than the individual they are trying to protect, so that a gunshot was more likely to hit an agent wearing a bulletproof vest than the dignitary.

The number of agents protecting the prime minister was also significantly increased after the Rabin assassination. Now, whenever the Israeli prime minister goes anywhere, “the whole regiment of security people are busy making sure that there will be as little contact and as little exposure as possible,” Shimron said.

In situations involving large groups of people, the Shin Bet now utilizes casually dressed agents among the crowd who look for potential threats — often using women for the job.

“Something interesting that we found was that women have a much better capability to detect strange behavior in a potential threat than men,” said the former Israeli security official. “They probably don’t have the physical power [as male agents], but when it comes to detecting suspicious behavior that might lead to a potential threat, they are much better than men.”

The official also pointed out that there are structural differences between the Shin Bet and the Secret Service that might contribute to varying degrees of effectiveness. In Israel, Shin Bet agents are usually much younger than their American counterparts and usually serve between five and seven years. In the Secret Service, the older average age means more seasoned agents, but they may lose some of their sensitivity and alertness.

Raviv said that lapses like the recent White House intrusion are less likely to occur with the Shin Bet.

“Would anything so ridiculous as what happened at the White House occur at an Israeli government building — or, specifically, at the home of the prime minister in Jerusalem? It’s not at all likely,” he said. “Israeli facilities have fences that are far more serious, including sensors that high-tech Israeli industries developed. And, frankly, Israeli guards — [who are] part of Shin Bet — would be
far more likely to open fire on an intruder.”

dshapiro@washingtonjewishweek.com

RCS Offers Course on Love

Women looking to explore love and marriage from a Jewish perspective will have a new resource beginning this December.

 
The Rosh Chodesh Society, the Chabad-Lubavitch movement’s Rohr Jewish Learning Institute women’s division, will kick off SoulMates, a seven-session course that begins Dec. 14 and runs through April 2015. Pulling from different Jewish sources, the course will offer participants the chance to examine the intricacies of love through a Jewish lens.

 
“Anyone who attends this course will leave every session not only inspired, but with tangible, concrete tools to enhance their relationship,” said RCS director Shaindy Jacobson in a release. “Whether they are currently married, considering someday tying the knot or simply seeking to better understand the spiritual root of love and marriage, SoulMates will forever change how they think about marriage in all its beauty and complexity.” The course, which will run once a month in more than 200 locations around the world, is open to women at all stages of life and all levels of Jewish knowledge.

 
“Today, the timeless teachings of our 3,000-year-old tradition on love and marriage are more relevant than ever,” said Rochel Kaplan, RCS’s Baltimore facilitator and director of the Aleph Learning Institute at the Lubavitch Center of Pikesville. “This course will challenge us to think deeply about ourselves and our relationships and give us practical tools to enhance them. It will allow us to see marriage in a whole new light and experience it with new meaning.”

 
Kaplan will teach the course on Sunday evenings at 6701 Old Pimlico Road from 8 p.m. to 9:15 p.m.