In a first, Conservative movement publishes list of expelled rabbis to website

The list of eight rabbis (plus one who is suspended until June 2022) was made public this week as part of a new reckoning with sexual misconduct and ethical accountability.

Photo by Mabel Amber/Pixabay/Creative Commons

(RNS) — The Conservative movement has for the first time posted to its website a list of rabbis who have been expelled or suspended for violating various ethical standards or codes of conduct, including sexual misconduct.

The list of eight rabbis (plus one who is suspended until June 2022) was made public Tuesday (Oct. 19) as part of a new societal reckoning with sexual misconduct and ethical accountability. The list was posted to the website of the Rabbinical Assembly, the association of Conservative rabbis.

“An important part of preserving the safety of anyone who comes into a religious institution is trust in the integrity of their clergy,” said Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal, chief executive of the Rabbinical Assembly and CEO of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the movement’s congregational arm. “When we have rabbis who fail to meet our ethical standards and have been expelled or suspended, it’s important to be transparent about that.”

The public posting, Blumenthal said, was part of a new set of “best practices” and follows that of Reform and Reconstructing Judaism, two other Jewish denominations that have also published names of rabbis expelled or suspended.

The accountability effort includes an announcement made in August that the Conservative movement was initiating an investigation into reports of sexual abuse of teenage boys at programs run by its affiliated organization, United Synagogue Youth. The movement has hired a third party, Sarah Worley of Boston, to investigate the allegations and has set up a hotline for people to report misconduct.

The Conservative movement has more than 500 affiliated congregations in the United States and is the country’s second-largest Jewish denomination. Its Rabbinical Assembly has about 1,700 member rabbis worldwide.

The list of expelled rabbis was divided into two categories, those expelled for ethical violations, including sexual misconduct or financial malfeasance, and those who were expelled for violating internal “standards of religious practice.”

RELATED: As Reform Jews investigate themselves, a reckoning over sexual abuse grows

Of the eight expelled since 2004, four were expelled for sexual misconduct, and one was suspended for “verbal sexual misconduct.” Three were expelled for violating religious practice standards. The list did not say what those were. The list included one Israeli rabbi, Dov Haiyun, who was expelled for violations of “financial and commercial matters.”

In the past, the organization would publish the names of expelled or suspended rabbis in newsletters that were mailed out to members, said Rabbi Daniel Pressman, chair of the ethics committee for the Rabbinical Assembly. This is the first year the Rabbinical Assembly has made the list publicly available to anyone on its website.

“As we become more knowledgeable about the impact of misconduct, it seems the information should not just be internal,” Pressman said. “There needs to be transparency so people trust our process.”

A rabbi who is suspended must be in therapy and is overseen by a spiritual counselor, Pressman said.

“The Rabbinic Assembly takes rabbinic misconduct very seriously, because it reflects badly on all rabbis,” he said, “and also because it harms people’s relationship with Judaism.”

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