Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Round II: Rabbi A. Charles Shalman Accused Of Having an inappropriately Relationship With A Female Congregant

Rabbi at Amherst's Temple Shaarey Zedek resigns amid complaint
Synagogue member alleges misconduct
By Jay Tokasz
Buffalo News
01/23/08

Rabbi A. Charles Shalman was censured in 1999 after a Rabbinical Assembly investigation concluded that he had violated several principles of rabbinical conduct during his private counseling or teaching sessions with female members of the synagogue."

The rabbi of an Amherst synagogue who was censured in 1999 for ethics violations has resigned amid a new complaint alleging misconduct.

The Rabbinical Assembly, the union that represents 1,400 Conservative rabbis worldwide, is investigating the complaint, filed by a member of the synagogue who accused Rabbi A. Charles Shalman of having an inappropriately close relationship with the member’s wife.

Shalman submitted a letter of resignation last Wednesday, citing personal reasons for leaving Temple Shaarey Zedek, a Conservative synagogue at 621 Getzville Road.

Shalman, who was hired in 1995, told The Buffalo News on Tuesday that the complaint was just “one piece of a much larger picture” of why he resigned.

“I have put a lot of thought into this decision and hope that I can find a less stressful second career, though I know it will never be as gratifying as my service to the congregation has been,” Shalman, 52, said in a brief telephone interview.

He said he was crafting a letter to the congregation that would explain his decision more fully.

C o ngregation President Rusty Zackheim said the Temple Shaarey Zedek community was shocked and saddened by Shalman’s resignation.

The temple board did not ask Shalman to resign.

Zackheim said she was made aware in late December of the complaint, which she described as being much different in nature from those that surfaced in 1999, when Shalman was nearly removed as rabbi of Temple Shaarey Zedek.

A Rabbinical Assembly investigation concluded then that Shalman had violated several principles of rabbinical conduct during his private counseling or teaching sessions with female members of the synagogue.

The assembly’s ethics board found that Shalman had improperly touched, questioned and made suggestive comments to some women. The assembly ordered him to seek therapy and refrain from counseling or teaching women, unless approved in advance by the ethics board.

The congregation voted to retain Shalman, who had four years remaining on a contract that paid more than $100,000 per year.

The 1999 investigation split the congregation into dueling factions, and the rabbi indicated to board members that he did not want to see it torn apart again, Zackheim said.

“The atmosphere was circuslike,” she said. “He did not want to see that happen again.”

Shabbat services were held Friday evening and Saturday morning without Shalman and will continue under the direction of Cantor Mark Spindler and lay leaders, Zackheim said.

The synagogue has applied to receive an interim rabbi.

The programs of Temple Shaarey Zedek also will continue, except for a Talmud class that Shalman taught.

Shalman had acquired a reputation as a compelling public speaker and bright Talmudic scholar. He often participated in dialogue on sensitive topics with people of other faiths and offered his perspective in public discussions about Israel and the Middle East, Christian-Jewish relations and other subjects.

He is a former president of the Buffalo Board of Rabbis and is listed as a faculty member of the Kadimah School of Buffalo.

Temple Shaarey Zedek, the area’s largest Conservative congregation, with about 500 members, is in the midst of merger talks with the area’s oldest Conservative congregation, Temple Beth El in the Town of Tonawanda.

Zackheim and Temple Beth El President Ed Drozen said Shalman’s resignation would not affect those discussions.

“It doesn’t throw a wrench into it,” Drozen said. “It just gives us something else to deal with.”

17 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

See also:

http://www.forward.com/articles/12540/

January 24, 2008 11:22 AM  
Anonymous Carol said...

I reported on Shalman's first round of sexual abuse allegations in 1999 on WGRZ-TV and was called an "anti-semite" by congregants who were angry that I was reporting on the allegations and the Rabbinical Assembly investigation. "The information should not be aired publicly. It will be an embarrassmemt to the Jewish community," they said. All I can say is that it is too bad they supported Shalman with blind faith, refusing to believe the truth. This man's long legacy of sexual abuse (including at least two prior synagogues) should be enough, finally, to end his career as a rabbi. I hope his victims, once portrayed as liars by fellow congregants, finally feel vindicated.

January 24, 2008 12:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carol

It's been nine long years. Yes, the "Women of Valor", as one member of the 1999 Vaad HaKavod referred to them, are the true heroes.

And as long as anyone can just "Google Shalman" -- his reputation will outlive him.

Be well, and have virtual glass of champagne with us wherever you are.

January 25, 2008 12:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carol- maybe you can call Kellman et al., and tell us why WGRZ didn't run the story this time round. I guess CH 2 went spineless after you booked for Washington.

January 25, 2008 9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carol, you had many admirers. Yes, at long last, the truth emerges unquestioned. It's time for genuine and public Tchuva by those misguided - and hurtful - congregants who led a vile campaign in 1999 against the women. Shalman's resignation is only the start of the repair needed. Shalman's misconduct was probably exceeded in hurtfulness by those in the temple leadership who shirked their sacred duty to uncover the truth, do justice and safeguard the congregation.

January 26, 2008 10:34 AM  
Anonymous Carol said...

Thank you for the kind words. They are especially meaningful after the long, arduous struggle against, and painful departure from, my previous employer. It's nice to know that one's work towards moral justice, while initially unrewarding and even many years later, is finally validated. I raise a glass to you, too, and the entire congregation, with sincere wishes for long overdue healing. And if you are ever in the Nation's capital, please look me up.

January 30, 2008 9:15 AM  
OpenID tirzah616 said...

The prologue to the current story is truly as long is this man's "career." I was a congregant at his first synagogue (Emanuel) in Oklahoma City, and experienced the same ruinous behavior in the course of the bacchanal that was his "pastoral counseling" service. When I reported him to persons of responsibility within the synagogue, I was accused of everything from lashon hara to nymphomanical hysteria. Shalman, then, freely admitted to me that he had implemented a preemptive measure against me by sharing his impression of my having a degree of "emotional instability" with certain members of the congregation (i.e., a bevy of female accolytes over which he had svengali-like sway). Result: I was shunned, ridiculed, harrassed, and he continued on and on. This was circa 1990 - 1993. A little analgesia comes from the news of his resignation---and maybe some healing later.

February 03, 2008 7:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is unfortunate that it has taken this long to hopefully rid the rabbinate of this predator. The Rabbinic Assembly has a great deal to answer for. They heard the testimony of several of the women involved and also heard an admission of guilt from Shalman. But yet they chose to do little more than give him a slap on the wrist.

Much of the leadership of Temple Shaarey Zedek, of 9 years ago vigorously worked to oust Shalman but because of the apostolic fervor of his many supporters along with the lack of backbone of the Rabbinic Assembly were unable to do so. As a result several of the officers resigned from the Temple.

Shalman continues to attend services at Temple Shaarey Zedek, the current leadership does not have the courage to do what is right for the congregation and ask him to pray elsewhere. The congregation needs to move on and to help the congregants heal from this episode but his shadow continues to loom over the congregation.

The Rabbinic Assembly has not as yet taken any action against Shalman. I would hope that anyone who has any information about him from any of his prior congregations would contact them so that they are left with no option but to dismiss him from their organization.

February 11, 2008 10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone have the latest news? I've heard that Shalman has taken a pulpit outside of Buffalo? Has the RA met in Buffalo yet?

March 05, 2008 9:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shalman has been expelled from the RA.

I hope this long-awaited justice brings peace to all who were harmed by him, and inspires personal reflection, learning and atonement by his blinded supporters who let themselves be manipulated terribly. And, lastly, I hope his children and wife can trust that good people do not judge them.

Article in Buffalo News ...

http://www.buffalonews.com/cityregion/buffaloerie/story/370088.html

June 14, 2008 9:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just in case the above link dies...

Conservative assembly removes former rabbi of Shaarey Zedek
By Jay Tokasz NEWS STAFF REPORTER
Updated: 06/14/08 7:31 AM

An Amherst rabbi who resigned earlier this year after being accused of misconduct with a congregant has been removed from the Rabbinical Assembly, an international association of Conservative Judaism.

Rabbi A. Charles Shalman was expelled from the assembly and can’t serve as a rabbi at any synagogue affiliated with the Conservative movement.

“His behavior violated our code of conduct for sure. I can’t say more than that,” said Rabbi Joel H. Meyers, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly, which represents 1,400 Conservative rabbis worldwide.

Shalman, rabbi of Temple Shaarey Zedek in Amherst since 1995, was informed of the decision in a letter dated June 5. He did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

The Rabbinical Assembly previously censured Shalman in 1999 after an investigation concluded that he had violated several principles of rabbinical conduct during his private counseling or teaching sessions with female members of the synagogue.

The assembly’s ethics board found that Shalman had improperly touched, questioned and made suggestive comments to some women. The assembly ordered him to seek therapy and refrain from counseling or teaching women, unless approved in advance by the ethics board.

The Temple Shaarey Zedek congregation voted then to retain Shalman, who was widely considered a dynamic public speaker and engaging Talmudic scholar.

But Shalman resigned his post in January following a complaint from a member who alleged that the rabbi maintained an inappropriate relationship with the member’s wife. Shalman cited personal reasons and an interest in finding a less stressful second career.

Another investigation by the Rabbinical Assembly’s ethics committee led to the expulsion.

The assembly’s decision doesn’t revoke Shalman’s ordination.

“What we have done basically is take away the certification of Rabbi Shalman. We cannot take away the title, rabbi,” said Meyers.

Expulsion from the assembly is a rare occurrence, he added.

“The decision cannot be appealed. One year from now, he is permitted to return to the ethics committee and ask for a reassessment and readmission to the Rabbinical Assembly,” Meyers said.

Rusty Zackheim, president of Temple Shaarey Zedek, would not comment on the decision of the Rabbinical Assembly, other than to say that the congregation has “tried to move forward.”

Shaarey Zedek, the area’s largest Conservative synagogue, is merging with Temple Beth El, which celebrated its final service Monday.

The new synagogue will be known as Temple Beth Tzedek and is in the process of hiring an interim rabbi who will serve along with Rabbi Larry Moldo, who has a contract through June 2009.

A new, permanent rabbi will be hired for the merged congregation after that.

jtokasz@buffmnews.com

June 15, 2008 12:36 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

This is very gratifying. I hope it provides closure for all.

June 24, 2008 11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FROM THE BUFFALO NEWS 9/25/12


Updated: 09/25/2012, 01:53 AM
Rabbi who was ousted for inappropriate relationship assists in services

BY: JAY TOKASZ






Rabbi A. Charles Shalman, expelled in 2008 from the worldwide Rabbinical Assembly amid allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a member of his congregation, has resurfaced as a featured participant in High Holy Day services at Hillel of Buffalo.

Shalman assisted last week during Rosh Hashana services at Hillel, the primary Jewish student organization on the University at Buffalo campus, and he is slated to do the same again tonight and Wednesday for Yom Kippur, Judaism's most solemn holiday.

Shalman's return to the pulpit as Torah reader has caused considerable consternation in some circles of the Jewish community, including a letter from a local rabbi to the Hillel board chairman strongly objecting to the move.

"We all know that Rabbi Shalman is a gifted, knowledgeable and charismatic teacher. However, given his refusal to own up or change, it is not appropriate for him to work with the young, vulnerable student population at Hillel," Rabbi Keith M. Karnofsky wrote in a letter obtained by The Buffalo News.

The letter was addressed to Hillel board Chairman Dan Lenard.

Karnofsky also wrote that leading High Holy Day services "imposes an additional requirement that the leader be above reproach" because his "misdeeds can reflect upon the congregation."

Karnofsky, who is currently the president of the Buffalo Board of Rabbis, said in a brief telephone interview that he stood by his letter but that it was his opinion, not a statement on behalf of the rabbi board.

He declined to comment further on Shalman's role in worship at Hillel.

Shalman served as rabbi of Temple Shaarey Zedek in Amherst from 1995 until his resignation in 2008, when he was accused by a member of the synagogue of having an inappropriately close relationship with the member's wife.

It was the second time in his tenure at Temple Shaarey Zedek that Shalman faced allegations of misconduct. In 1999, an investigation by the Rabbinical Assembly's ethics board concluded that Shalman had violated several principles of rabbinical conduct in his private counseling or teaching sessions with female members of the synagogue. The violations including improper touching and suggestive comments.

The congregation voted to retain Shalman, who had to undergo therapy and refrain from any future one-on-one teaching with women.

But following the 2008 allegation, the Rabbinical Assembly expelled Shalman, effectively meaning that synagogues affiliated with the Conservative Judaism movement cannot hire him.

September 25, 2012 8:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hillel is not affiliated with a particular movement, and Lenard on Monday defended the organization's use of Shalman in its High Holy Day services. The Hillel board twice, by a 9-2 vote, approved bringing Shalman aboard this year, said Lenard.

"He was a wonderful altar rabbi, and we needed somebody to read Torah for our liturgies," said Lenard, who described Shalman as a friend.

Lenard pointed out that Shalman was not acting as a rabbi or counseling anybody and that a cantor hired out of Chicago was in charge of leading the services.

"What he brings to the pulpit is a tremendous knowledge of Torah," said Lenard.

Lenard also said Shalman has never been accused of any crimes and deserves as second chance.

"The guy is human," he said. "What we've got here is a guy who made a big mistake, showed a lack of judgment and paid a tremendous price for it."

Some members of Shalman's former congregation want to make him into a pariah, added Lenard.

"This is a time of forgiveness in the Jewish religion," he said. "Put it behind."

Shalman declined to comment for this story when reached Monday.

Some members of the Jewish community objected to Shalman's pulpit duties with Hillel but said they were uncomfortable speaking out publicly on the matter.

One father of a University at Buffalo student expressed concern about Shalman's pulpit sermonizing leading students to seek him out after the services.

"If a student would assume he's a rabbi and would want to go to him for advice - especially a female student - I would hesitate as a parent to have my daughter go talk to him," the man said.

email: jtokasz@buffnews.com

September 25, 2012 8:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

charlie shalman was contracted bu buffalo hillel to lead high holyday services. kind of like putting an alcoholic to work in a liquor store, no? they said he was just reading torah -- a minor role, etc. not so. i was there. he was the rabbi in every way. for more...pls read the buffnews article from 9-25-12. what's troubling is not only did he lead the services, but the hillel chair [dan lenard] clearly lied about his role. in addition, the news article gives the impression that he complied with the rabbinical assembly's sanctions which required him to get therapy and not meet alone with a women....and it is well known that he never complied...for if he had, he'd have been readmitted to the r.a.

September 26, 2012 9:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

update sep. 28, 2012:

charles shalman has just led the buffalo hillel's high holyday services as the rabbi; he did not just assist in a minor role.

he received rave reviews, so no doubt he'll be back frequently....maybe even their next director / rabbi

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

TheBuffaloNews.com
CITY & REGION


Rabbi who was ousted for inappropriate relationship assists in services

Published: 09/25/2012, 06:00 AM Updated: 09/25/2012, 01:53 AM
Rabbi who was ousted for inappropriate relationship assists in services

BY: JAY TOKASZ



Rabbi A. Charles Shalman, expelled in 2008 from the worldwide Rabbinical Assembly amid allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a member of his congregation, has resurfaced as a featured participant in High Holy Day services at Hillel of Buffalo.

Shalman assisted last week during Rosh Hashana services at Hillel, the primary Jewish student organization on the University at Buffalo campus, and he is slated to do the same again tonight and Wednesday for Yom Kippur, Judaism's most solemn holiday.

Shalman's return to the pulpit as Torah reader has caused considerable consternation in some circles of the Jewish community, including a letter from a local rabbi to the Hillel board chairman strongly objecting to the move.

"We all know that Rabbi Shalman is a gifted, knowledgeable and charismatic teacher. However, given his refusal to own up or change, it is not appropriate for him to work with the young, vulnerable student population at Hillel," Rabbi Keith M. Karnofsky wrote in a letter obtained by The Buffalo News.

The letter was addressed to Hillel board Chairman Dan Lenard.

Karnofsky also wrote that leading High Holy Day services "imposes an additional requirement that the leader be above reproach" because his "misdeeds can reflect upon the congregation."

Karnofsky, who is currently the president of the Buffalo Board of Rabbis, said in a brief telephone interview that he stood by his letter but that it was his opinion, not a statement on behalf of the rabbi board.

He declined to comment further on Shalman's role in worship at Hillel.

Shalman served as rabbi of Temple Shaarey Zedek in Amherst from 1995 until his resignation in 2008, when he was accused by a member of the synagogue of having an inappropriately close relationship with the member's wife.

It was the second time in his tenure at Temple Shaarey Zedek that Shalman faced allegations of misconduct. In 1999, an investigation by the Rabbinical Assembly's ethics board concluded that Shalman had violated several principles of rabbinical conduct in his private counseling or teaching sessions with female members of the synagogue. The violations including improper touching and suggestive comments.

continued.......

September 28, 2012 9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

continued from previous.......


The congregation voted to retain Shalman, who had to undergo therapy and refrain from any future one-on-one teaching with women.

But following the 2008 allegation, the Rabbinical Assembly expelled Shalman, effectively meaning that synagogues affiliated with the Conservative Judaism movement cannot hire him.

Hillel is not affiliated with a particular movement, and Lenard on Monday defended the organization's use of Shalman in its High Holy Day services. The Hillel board twice, by a 9-2 vote, approved bringing Shalman aboard this year, said Lenard.

"He was a wonderful altar rabbi, and we needed somebody to read Torah for our liturgies," said Lenard, who described Shalman as a friend.

Lenard pointed out that Shalman was not acting as a rabbi or counseling anybody and that a cantor hired out of Chicago was in charge of leading the services.

"What he brings to the pulpit is a tremendous knowledge of Torah," said Lenard.

Lenard also said Shalman has never been accused of any crimes and deserves as second chance.

"The guy is human," he said. "What we've got here is a guy who made a big mistake, showed a lack of judgment and paid a tremendous price for it."

Some members of Shalman's former congregation want to make him into a pariah, added Lenard.

"This is a time of forgiveness in the Jewish religion," he said. "Put it behind."

Shalman declined to comment for this story when reached Monday.

Some members of the Jewish community objected to Shalman's pulpit duties with Hillel but said they were uncomfortable speaking out publicly on the matter.

One father of a University at Buffalo student expressed concern about Shalman's pulpit sermonizing leading students to seek him out after the services.

"If a student would assume he's a rabbi and would want to go to him for advice - especially a female student - I would hesitate as a parent to have my daughter go talk to him," the man said.

email: jtokasz@buffnews.com

update 9/27/12

1. those who attended yom kippur services at hillel yesterday reported that charles did not just "assist" by reading torah. he led the service in every way a rabbi usually does.
the cantor chanted in hebrew but did not speak a word. charles did everything else, including sermons and commentaries. the hillel chair -- dan lenard -- was there also.

2. the article implies that charles complied with the rabbinical assembly's directives to get treatment and not be alone with a woman in a counseling or teaching situation. per the synagogue officers charles never complied with either of the directives.

there is also an excellent article by malcolm gladwell on sexual abusers in this week's new yorker 9/24/12.

September 28, 2012 9:48 AM  

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