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article imageD.C. rabbi arrested, accused of video recording women in shower

By Greta McClain     Oct 16, 2014 in Crime
Washington - A prominent rabbi in Washington D.C has been arrested, accused of installing a hidden camera in a women’s restroom at the National Capital Mikvah.
On Tuesday, 62-year-old Barry Freundel, a well known Orthodox rabbi at the Kesher Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C., was arrested and charged with six counts of voyeurism. The arrest came after police executed a search warrant at Freundel's home. According to a CBS DC report, police obtained the warrant in order to search for evidence of audio and video recordings from a camera Freundel allegedly hid in a digital clock radio. Neighbors in the area say they observed police removing a computer and other items from the home.
The alleged recordings were made in a women's restroom as women prepared to participate in the Jewish cleansing ritual known as mikveh. According to court documents, Freundel was observed setting up the secret recording device so that it faced the shower area in the Mikvah. The documents also say that at least six women who were partially or completely undressed were recorded.
A Jewish Mikveh
A Jewish Mikveh
Screen Capture
While some in the Jewish community are reserving judgement, others are outraged at the alleged behavior of Freundel. Sharon Weiss-Greenberg, executive director of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, told the Washington City Paper:
"I've never heard of anything like this before. A mikveh is a place where a woman can feel fairly vulnerable. We need to make sure that this is a safe place."
Freundel has been the rabbi at Kesher Israel Congregation for the past 25 years.
In a statement issued by the congregation, the board of directors say they notified authorities as soon as they learned of the alleged inappropriate activity. The statement goes on to say:
"After today’s arrest of Rabbi Dr. Barry Freundel, the board of directors suspended him without pay. As always, Kesher Israel will remain open as a place of learning, prayer, and community, including throughout the remainder of the Sukkot holiday."
The board of directors for the National Capital Mikvah also issued a statement, saying:
"The Mikvah is committed to providing uninterrupted, safe access to its ritual bath for women who need to use the facility for taharat hamishpacha (family purity) reasons. Throughout the investigation, the Mikvah cooperated fully with law enforcement and will continue to do so. The National Capital Mikvah has also been in close communication with Kesher Israel leadership."
Freundel has been suspended without pay from Kesher Israel, as well as his role as the Rav Hamachshir, supervisor of the ritual mikveh. He appeared at an arraignment hearing on Wednesday where he pleaded not guilty and was released without bond. He is scheduled to appear in court again on November 12th. If convicted, Freundel could face up six years in prison.
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