Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Update Case of Tobias Gabriel - Rabbi, synagogue sued over seduction scandal

Rabbi Tobias Gabriel
From Vicki Polin at The Awareness Center, Inc.
Looking for more survivors of Rabbi Tobias Gabriel:

Through out the life of Tobias Gabriel he moved around from country to country (Bolivia, Israel, Mexico, USA, Canada). It is believed that he left survivors of professional sexual misconduct along the way. As of today there have been several women who have come forward accusing Rabbi Gabriel of clergy sexual abuse/professional sexual misconduct.

If you or someone you know has been sexually manipulated by Rabbi Gabriel please contact The Awareness Center immediately: 443-857-5560.
Rabbi, synagogue sued over seduction scandal
By Sandro Contenta
Toronto Star
August 29, 2007

Woman who claims cleric pressured her into a sexual relationship wants $1.3M in compensation

A woman claiming she was coerced into a sexual relationship by a rabbi is suing the rabbi and a prominent Toronto synagogue for $1.3 million.

Richmond Hill resident (NAME REMOVED), is suing Rabbi Tobias Gabriel and the Beth Tzedec Synagogue for breach of fiduciary duty and the pain and suffering she claims the relationship caused her and her marriage.

The lawsuit highlights an issue that has pushed some religious institutions into writing codes of conduct that govern relationships between clergy and members of their congregations.

(NAME REMOVED) position is the rabbi abused the trust of a deeply religious woman, according to her lawyer Simona Jellinek.

Gabriel responded to a Toronto Star request for an interview by calling the allegations "groundless" and refusing further comment. His lawyer, Alf Kwinter, stressed none of the allegations have been proven in court. "He's going to vigorously defend this lawsuit," he added.

Kwinter described Gabriel's 13 years of service at the synagogue as "outstanding" and "exemplary." Beth Tzedec's website describes Gabriel as happily married.

The incident rocked the congregation Monday when a letter was sent to the synagogue's 6,000 members, three days after the Toronto Star made repeated requests to Beth Tzedec authorities for comment.

"Unfortunately, there is little doubt that the impropriety occurred," wrote Shep Gangbar, president of the Beth Tzedec Congregation, who called the situation "distressing."

While the synagogue "strongly affirms that such actions are improper and wrong," it is not legally liable for the actions of Gabriel, the letter states. "Beth Tzedec has never condoned or tolerated such behaviour and will never do so."

Beth Tzedec is prepared to provide financial compensation to (NAME REMOVED), the synagogue's lawyer, Michael Royce, said yesterday.

Gabriel, who was hired as a cantor by Beth Tzedec, has accepted an agreement with the synagogue that will see him resign at the end of the year, Kwinter said. He will be paid until then, he added.
Gabriel, who is not the synagogue's chief rabbi, has been suspended and will no longer work at Beth Tzedec, Royce said.

This week, representatives of the New York-based Rabbinical Association, of which GabrielGabriel taught in the synagogue.

Beth Tzedec, in the affluent Forest Hill neighbourhood, practises the Conservative stream of Judaism. One of the country's largest synagogues, it was recently the site of Ed Mirvish's funeral.

In July 2006, (NAME REMOVED) was the only female in Gabriel's class for student cantors at the Bathurst St. synagogue when Gabriel became "friendly and flirtatious," according to a statement of claim filed by (NAME REMOVED) and her husband (NAME REMOVED) at Ontario's Superior Court last month.

Gabriel kissed (NAME REMOVED) in his office at the end of the course after she gave him "a small token of appreciation," the statement alleges. She "fled" the office "confused and shaken," the statement adds.

Gabriel then called her repeatedly while she vacationed in Israel, the statement alleges. It claims he "pressured" her into seeing him when she returned.

When they met, "Rabbi Gabriel began to kiss (NAME REMOVED) and told her that he will take responsibility and that it would not be wrong to be intimate with him," the statement claims. He told (NAME REMOVED) "it is acceptable that she love two men," it alleges. The claim also alleges the relationship progressed to sexual intercourse.

"Did he use violence and rape her? No, he did not," Jellinek said. (NAME REMOVED)'s husband, who learned of the relationship last September, is claiming $100,000 for the damage it caused to his marriage.

The claim alleges the synagogue knew that Gabriel "had previously engaged in sexual relations with another married woman who was attending the Beth Tzedec Synagogue while she was grieving the loss of one of her parents."

The statement of claim says (NAME REMOVED) relied on Gabriel as "an authority figure to give advice to her, to guide her and to protect her from harm."

"Gabriel knew or ought to have known that (NAME REMOVED) would follow his instructions without resistance," it says. "Gabriel knew or ought to have known that he had (NAME REMOVED)'s absolute trust in all regards and that she would obey Gabriel's instructions and follow his advice in all matters."
(NAME REMOVED) refused to comment when contacted by the Star. Her husband, (NAME REMOVED) said: "There's been incredible grief and publicity would only cause more."

The experience continues to cause (NAME REMOVED) "physical and mental stress," including "inability to trust others ... suicidal behaviour ... sexual dysfunction ... (and) marital discord and breakdown," the statement of claim says. It calls the alleged incident a "sexual assault."

The synagogue does not have a written policy governing conduct between employees and members of the congregation. But the New York-based Rabbinical Association strictly forbids sexual relationships, Royce said.

Kwinter accused Beth Tzedec of convicting Gabriel although none of the allegations have been proven.

"We're not talking about young children. ... Nothing here is alleged to be illegal," Kwinter said. "The allegations are being made against adults."

Rabbi Michal Shekel, executive director of the Toronto Board of Rabbis, would not comment on the case but noted that adultery contravenes one of the Ten Commandments.

More modern concerns about the power a cleric may have over a member of the congregation, particularly one seeking counselling, has resulted in different branches of Judaism – Reform, Conservative and Orthodox – writing codes of conduct, Shekel said.

In the United States, windows are being added to rabbis' offices when old synagogues are redesigned. It allows for privacy while ensuring that others can witness the meeting, Shekel added.

In a teacher-student relationship, concerns are similar to those in universities, where a teacher has power over whether a student makes the grade, Shekel said.

In the Anglican church, it used to be common for a young cleric to fall in love with, or marry, a parishioner, said Archdeacon Peter Fenty, executive assistant to the Anglican Bishop of Toronto.
But recent reforms, including a "Sexual Misconduct Policy" for staff and volunteers adopted by the General Synod in 2005, resulted in the Toronto diocese banning romantic relationships between a cleric and a parishioner, Fenty said.

When that happens, the parishioner is asked to seek another parish. It avoids embroiling the parish into conflict that may arise if the relationship breaks down, and preserves the integrity of the pastoral relationship, Fenty added.

"When are you the person's priest and when are you the person's lover? It is in the interest of the cleric, the parishioner and the church community that there be clarity," Fenty said.

Rabbi Reuven Tradburks, president of the Toronto-based Council of Orthodox Rabbis, said his Judaic movement prohibits any man or woman being alone together in a room unless they're married or closely related.

Single rabbis are permitted to date and marry members of their congregations but sex is the reserve of married couples, Tradburks added.

People who go to rabbis for wisdom and guidance have a right to expect high ethical and moral standards from representatives of the Torah, Tradburks said.

"People will say, `Well, if a rabbi can behave that way, who needs the whole religion; it must not be worth much if he can act like that,'" he said.

"I'm a person like anyone else and I have my failings, but that's an expectation people have a right to make: a rabbi should do things differently," he added.

was a member when the incidents are said to have occurred, will come to the synagogue to investigate the claims. The group runs the cantor classes

History of Tobias Gabriel - (Cantor / Hazzen)
  • (Born) La Paz, Bolivia
  • (1949) Lima, Peru
  • (1955 - 1959) Telzer Yeshiva (High School) - Cleveland, OH
  • Yeshiva University (Cantorial School) - New York, NY
  • (1966 - 1968) MBA in International Marketing - City University of New York - New York, NY
  • Mexico
  • President, Zionist Federation of Peru - Peru
  • Cantor, Religious Affairs Director and Bar Mitzvah Instructor - Peru
  • Bakery Business, Israel
  • (1990) Toronto, Canada
  • (1968 - 2006) Former Member - Cantor Assembly (CA)
  • (1990 - 1992) Former Cantor, Shaar Shalom - Thornhill, Canada
  • (1994 - Present) Cantor, Beth Tzedec - Toronto, Canada
  • (2002 - 2006) Jewish Theological Seminary (Rabbinical School) - New York, NY
  • (2006) Spiritual Director, Camp Ramah - Utterson, Ontario, Canada
  • (2006 - 2007) Former Member - Rabbinical Assembly (RA)
  • (2006 - Present) Rabbi, Beth Tzedec - Toronto, Canada


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like Mordecai Tendler, Hershy Worch and Mordechai Gafni. . .

August 29, 2007 12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if this lowlife was hitting on the young counselors at Camp Ramah. It's more likely that a pool of potential victims is what drew him there - not the compensation which is not very substantial.

August 29, 2007 12:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's Alan King...Really it looks just like Alan King.

August 29, 2007 5:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who's Alan King??

August 29, 2007 9:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do a Wikipedia search for "Alan King". He was a Borscht Belt comedian who died in 2004 at the age of 76.
Tobias is a dead ringer for Alan King.

August 29, 2007 10:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, you're right. Here's a link to King's picture:

August 29, 2007 10:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a young woman who has grown up attending Beth Tzedec synagogue I am shocked at the allegations, but even more disgusted by the terrible comments left here. Rabbi Gabriel may have faults, however he was always very respectful, appropriate and extremely kind to me and my siblings. Perhaps he did committ impropriety, however the allegations are with an adult. The conjecture and accusations here are absolutely baseless.

August 29, 2007 10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Anonymous who posted at August 29, 2007 10:35 PM

I know this must be so difficult for you. Someone you trusted and felt was a friend manipulated grown women into having sexual relations with them. Unfortunately when someone is a rabbi they take on a very special role, one which is very similar to being a therapist.

Members of your synagogue often share their inner most feelings with the rabbis there. Can you imagine what it would be like to loose someone very close to you and then have someone else give you a lot of special attention? You're hurting and in a great deal of emotional pain, and then someone is there to comfort you.

What happens when that same special someone is a rabbi, cantor, teacher, doctor, etc... and they start hugging you as a way to comfort you. What happens when that hug turns into a kiss?

Remember you are in an emotional whirlwind. You are grieving and feeling horrible and someone kisses you?

Like gets very complicated at times, yet the bottom line is that rabbis, especially rabbis who are married should NEVER come on to one of his or her congregants.

Tobias Gabriel is very much like Mordecai Tendler and a hole slew of other creeps who gain pleasure from harming others.

August 29, 2007 11:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is extremely upsetting here is the fact that the leadership of the Beth Tzedec synagogue were aware of Rabbi Gabriel's affair with the other un-named woman who he manipulated into a sexual affair while she was grieving the death of her father.
They covered for him, and they continued to do so after being made aware of him doing the exact same thing to a female student of his.
Until the leadership of the synagogue is changed the stain will remain.

February 26, 2008 12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was confirmed recently that Tobias Gabriel was also expelled from the Cantor's Assembly, and that he would not ever be able to re-apply for membership to that organization.
He was expelled from the Assembly of Conservative Rabbis several months ago.
The head rabbi of the Beth Tzedec knew for years that Gabriel was having sexual relations with various women.
There were rumors that he practised his "trade" at Camp Ramah when he was there as a rabbi.
I hope he didn't touch any of the children.
Why did the Beth Tzedec cover for this low life for so long?

March 25, 2008 9:06 AM  

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