Report: 'Peeping' D.C. Rabbi Suggested Students Bathe in His Mikveh

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The Kesher Israel synagogue in Washington D.C., the National Capital Mikvah is in the back.Credit: Google Street View

Rabbi Barry Freundel, the American rabbi charged with secretly filming women in the shower of his synagogue’s ritual bath, also suggested that students touring his synagogue shower and bathe there, a student newspaper reports.

A mikveh in Elad.Credit: Nir Keidar

According to the The Towerlight, Towson University's student paper, two Jewish students accepted Freundel's offer on a tour of the synagogue in 2013. It is unclear whether they were filmed by the hidden camera, which was disguised as a digital clock radio in the changing and showering area of the ritual bath, or mikveh.

Freundel, who pled not guilty last week to six charges of voyeurism, served as an associate professor at the Towson University's Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies. He was suspended following his arrest on October 14.

Student Nicole Coniglio told the paper that Freundel suggested she and her classmates use the ritual bath at the Kesher Israel synagogue in Washington D.C. as an experience. She added that she didn't feel pressured to do so, according to the report. 

“He basically said that not all Orthodox synagogues have [a mikveh], so it was kind of a rarity,” she told the Towerlight. “He told us he was instrumental in getting it to his synagogue, he was proud of it. He proposed it as a special opportunity, something that you wouldn’t be able to participate in every day.”

The rabbi took students on tour of his synagogue on several occasions, Conniglio told the paper.

According to the Washington Post, the school was aware that Freundel, who has been teaching at Towson since 1989, took students on unauthorized field trips to his synagogue, though the particulars of those trips, including the visit to the mikveh, were unknown to university officials.

The university has started contacting the rabbi's current and former students, and urged those who went on the tours to contact the police, the Washington Post said.

In a statement, the university said that there is no indication any of the activities occurred on campus, but that it is "concerned about the serious nature of this matter, and we are providing support and counseling resources to members of the campus community,” the Towerlight reported.

According to the Washington Post, it is unknown if the students were secretly filmed while showering in the mikveh, but that law enforcement have only just began examining the computers, recording devices and other digital media seized from the Kesher Israel Synagogue and from Freundel's home.

Rabbi Dr. Barry Freundel speaks at the Symposium on The Jewish Vote and the Presidential Election, 2012. Photo screenshot from YouTube.

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