A Florida synagogue rocked by allegations that a long-time congregant abused boys decades ago in New York is set to reexamine how it deals with members accused of abuse.
Rabbi Efrem Goldberg told congregants of the Boca Raton Synagogue in a July 24 email: “The last few weeks have been extremely challenging as our community has been featured in media reports and blogs, often containing speculation and misinformation.
“I am confident that with an accurate understanding of the facts, timeline and decision making process of our leadership, you will recognize that the Executive Board and I have acted in the best interest of our community and our members.”
Richard Andron, a longtime member of the Boca Raton Synagogue, was named in a high-profile lawsuit filed July 8 in U.S. District Court in White Plains, N.Y. Andron is one of three men accused of abuse by former students of Yeshiva University High School for Boys, in Manhattan.
Dave Raben, a Miami attorney who specializes in criminal defense and who identified himself as representing Andron, declined to comment about the allegations.
Some angry Boca Raton congregants want to know whether Goldberg, his predecessors or board members were aware of the allegations against Andron before they became public.
Goldberg has not responded to several interview requests from the Forward. However, in his email to congregants, he offered to “discuss issues that may be on your mind or to clarify questions that may be troubling you.”
Goldberg added that at a recent meeting of the synagogue’s board of directors, a special committee had been appointed “tasked with evaluating our protocols and procedures regarding issues of safety and security for our members as well as regulations regarding allegations of misconduct and abuse by our members or those seeking to visit our campus.”
Goldberg added that the committee would be “comprised of a cross section of our membership who will consult closely with mental health professionals, legal counsel and experts.”
The lawsuit alleges that Andron was “allowed to roam the halls” of Y.U.’s high school dormitory during the late 1970s and early ’80s even though he had nothing to do with the school. It cites three men — a Y.U. college student and two Y.U. high school students — who say Andron invited them to stay at his apartment, where he attempted to touch or did touch their genitals.
The Forward has identified a further seven men who say they were abused by Andron in New York or New Jersey during the same period.
One day after the lawsuit was filed, the Boca Raton Synagogue released a statement saying that “the accused person had withdrawn his membership at BRS and agreed not to come to the BRS campus, or attend any BRS event in the future, whether on or off campus.”
The statement added: “Be advised that there have been no allegations we are aware of that any improper conduct occurred within the past 30 years, or in our community.”