A lawyer for the synagogue where Rabbi Mordecai Tendler works has written to the Rabbinical Council of America demanding proof of the wrongdoing for which the rabbinic group expelled the spiritual leader. Last month the RCA expelled Rabbi Tendler, a member of a respected rabbinic family, for unspecified “conduct inappropriate for a rabbi” and not cooperating with its 15-month investigation into charges that he engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior with several congregants who had come to him for counseling.
Attorney Daniel Schwartz in an e-mail letter to Rabbi Basil Herring, the RCA’s executive vice president, requested more information about how Rabbi Tendler was uncooperative and said the charge of inappropriate conduct “is vague.” Schwartz is a member of Rabbi Tendler’s Rockland County synagogue, Kehillat New Hempstead, and practices matrimonial law in Manhattan.
“Simply put, what conduct on Rabbi Tendler’s part did the RCA find to be inappropriate for an Orthodox rabbi?” Schwartz asks in the letter.
The letter also says that Rabbi Herring and “other prominent ‘insiders’ have suggested that the RCA possesses DNA evidence that would prove Rabbi Tendler had sexual relations with at least one of the women who has accused him of pursuing her.
The congregation, through Schwartz’s letter, demands that the RCA identify and describe the evidence, state where it is located and who has reviewed it, how it was obtained and who analyzed it. It also asks for “the actual samples so my client can have a laboratory of its own choosing analyze it.” And the congregation asks for an explanation why the purported evidence was not included in the report conducted for the RCA by a private investigation firm, Praesidium.
“Though the synagogue now stands with the rabbi, that doesn’t mean the synagogue wouldn’t like a vetting of all the material,” Schwartz said in an interview. “The board just doesn’t understand what took place.”
Schwartz said he has not received a response to his letter from the RCA.
Rabbi Herring said he had no comment on the letter.