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Victims

Roy Moore Reminds Me of My Rabbi by Bethany Mandel.

In 2014, on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Rabbi Barry Freundel led the congregation of his Washington synagogue in pursuit of humble repentance before God. Ten days later, he was arrested and charged with dozens of counts of voyeurism. Ultimately, the rabbi was accused of having surreptitiously videotaped more than 150 women on hidden cameras in the bathroom of the mikvah, the ritual bath.

I was one of them.

That bath, adjacent to the synagogue, was where I immersed myself upon completing my conversion to Orthodox Judaism in 2010. It turned out that this clergyman I trusted had set up a camera inside a clock radio that taped me and other women as we undressed. His fall became one of the biggest stories in the Jewish world that year.

In the past few days, in the wake of the accusations that Roy Moore, the ostentatiously religious Republican running for Senate in Alabama, sexually assaulted teenage girls, the case of Barry Freundel is all I can think about.

There is something particularly insidious about being victimized by a man who claims to be righteous. When someone like Barry Freundel violates you, you aren’t just robbed of your dignity and your safety. You are also robbed of your faith and, very often, of your religious community, which can view you as the real betrayer of the faith for speaking out.

At least that’s what happened to me.

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