Rabbi Expelled for Misconduct

By Anthony Weiss

Published June 26, 2008, issue of July 04, 2008.
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A Buffalo, N.Y., rabbi with a history of alleged sexual misconduct has been kicked out of the international union of Conservative rabbis.

The Rabbinical Assembly expelled Rabbi Arthur Charles Shalman on June 4, four and a half months after he resigned from his position at Temple Shaarey Zedek outside Buffalo, amid allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a female congregant.

In 1999, the R.A.’s ethics committee had admonished Shalman for “improper touching” and “improper suggestions” with female congregants. Despite the rebuke, the synagogue had voted to retain Shalman and the R.A. acceded, on the condition that Shalman seek counseling and that he receive mentoring from another rabbi.

Shalman’s case is reminiscent of several other high-profile sex scandals that involve repeat offenders and have plagued the various Jewish streams in recent years. In 2006, for example, Rabbi Mordechai Gafni, a prominent figure in the Jewish Renewal movement, was forced to leave his position amid allegations of repeated sexual improprieties with female followers over a number of years.

Rabbi Joel Meyers, executive vice president of the R.A., declined to discuss the details of the complaint that led to Shalman’s expulsion, though he did say that the ethics committee’s recommendation for expulsion took into account Shalman’s behavior nine years ago.

Shalman did not return a call requesting comment on the matter.

Meyers said that neither he nor the ethics committee had second thoughts about the way the matter was handled in 1999.

“They have no regrets, unless they’re somehow prophets and one can somehow predict what someone is going to do in 10 years,” Meyers said. “It’s a tragic situation.”






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