In an unprecedented step, the chief rabbinate has in effect defrocked an ordained rabbi serving in a municipally paid position in a northern city for sexual misconduct.
A disciplinary committee of the chief rabbinate examined what was described as numerous complaints of sexual harassment against the rabbi and his “[halachically] forbidden sexual relationships,” and also took into account security camera footage of the rabbi kissing and hugging a woman not his wife.
The rabbi in question, whose name has not been released by the chief rabbinate, was employed as a neighborhood rabbi by the local religious council of the city.
Although criminal proceedings against the rabbi have been dropped, the chief rabbinate’s committee decided that the numerous complaints against the rabbi by several women as well as the video evidence was enough to revoke his rabbinical ordination.
The case of the rabbi had been under review with the disciplinary committee of the chief rabbinate for several years, and his license to perform marriages had already been revoked.
According to a source in the chief rabbinate, once the video of the rabbi reached the disciplinary committee earlier this year, he was summoned to a hearing to explain his conduct.
The committee rejected the rabbi’s explanations and as well as having his ordination revoked he has been fired from his position as a neighborhood rabbi.
The source added that although the police did have evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the rabbi had committed the crimes he is accused of, the threshold for evidence for administrative disciplinary action was lower and that the revocation of his ordination was therefore justified.
“Such behavior is not commensurate with that required of a rabbi of the Jewish people,” a source in the chief rabbinate said.
Deputy-Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan, who initiated the disciplinary proceedings against the rabbi in question during his time as Deputy Religious Services Ministry, welcomed the step calling it “a deep and important change” and said that “rabbis who commit inappropriate acts will not have any immunity.”
According to Channel 2, which broke the story, an attorney for the rabbi said that he was considering appealing the decision and possibly suing the chief rabbinate for defamation. The attorney also emphasized that all of the police investigations had been closed without an indictment.