What Stops Jewish Communities from Holding Their Rabbis to Account?

By Yael Shahar
June 12, 2015

What would you do if rumors of sexual impropriety were circulating about someone in your community?

Whom would you approach and where would you get advice? It all depends. If the rumors concerned someone in your child’s school, you might go to the principal. If they concerned someone in your congregation you would likely talk to the rabbi; after all, the rabbi is expected to know everyone and to be above personal squabbles. He would be able to sniff out the source of the rumor discreetly, and if the matter were found to be serious, he would know whom to contact.

But what if the rumors were about the rabbi himself? Further, what if the rabbi in question is beloved by many, and in any case you’re not sure that any serious transgressions have occurred?

In a culture as reverent of tradition as ours, the veneration of rabbis is understandable. But this is not without risk: it removes the checks and balances that might keep inappropriate behavior from escalating to actual transgression.








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