Monday, March 07, 2005

Reform Synagogue Temple Sinai, Washington, MD - demonstrates its qualities: heartless, ignorant and completely negligent - where is the leadership?


At 8:55 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

When I read this article a few minutes ago, I became very upset.

1) Are there no standards for the people that are brought into Reform synagogues to work around children? In California, we have child molester Rabbi Mordechai Gafni. Here the synagogue hired someone illegally in the country. What possible background check could they have done?

2) The treatment of the victim and her family is utterly reprehensible. It should be the heartless Rabbis and the board that resign and leave the synagogue, NOT the victim and her family.

3) I call on the Union of Reform Judaism to investigate this horrid institution that bears their stamp of approval and make sure this never happens again at any of their institutions.

4) The leadership of this synagogue should be forced to do real tshuva which includes a public apology and sensitivity training.

I call on my readers to express their disgust.
Union for Reform Judaism
633 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10017-6778 Tel: 212.650.4000
Name Phone Fax E-mail
1)Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie
President 212.650.4150 212.650.4159
2)Rabbi Lennard R. Thal
Senior Vice-President 212.650.4157 212.650.4159
3)Rabbi Daniel Freelander
Vice-President 212.650.4085 212.650.4159
4)Edward P. Caine C.A.O. 212.650.4154 212.650.4169
5)Robert Heller
Chairman of the Board 212.650.4156 212.650.4169
6)Jean Bowdish 212.650.4150 212.650.4159
7)Judith Chudy 212.650.4267 212.650.4159
8)Paula Desrochers-Yakout 212.650.4156 212.650.4159
9)Pat Jones 212.650.4083 212.650.4169
10)Jane Herman 212.650.4044 212.650.4159

Courtesy of the Awareness Center Yahoogroups:

Worker sentenced for sexual abuse at Temple Sinai
by Debra Rubin - Editor
Washington Jewish Week
February 24, 2005

A former maintenance worker at a District synagogue has been
sentenced for sexual abuse, while a local family remains devastated
by the incident.

Associate Judge John H. Bayly Jr. of the District of Columbia
Superior Court last week sentenced Elvin Guerra to 40 months in prison with no possibility of parole after a plea bargain agreement
reached in December.

His imprisonment will be followed by three years of supervised
release, and he also must register as a sex offender for 10 years.

Guerra, 23, was sentenced on two counts: second-degree sexual abuse
and enticing a child to commit a sexual act.

In his plea, he admitted to sexual intercourse and sexual contact after enticing the girl into a rest room at the Reform synagogue "for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts and sexual contact with her."

Defense attorney Maria Mendoza had no comment.

The incident took place in January 2004 at Temple Sinai, while the synagogue was holding a Winterfest carnival.

Temple Sinai placed Guerra on administrative leave immediately after the charges were made, dismissing him after his arrest, according to Gary Simms, executive director.

The girl whom Guerra assaulted was 13 at time. Her family has since resigned from Temple Sinai.

As is the policy of most news organizations when reporting on a
sexual assault, WJW is withholding the child's name and that of her family.

"We felt we were isolated and alone," her mother said. "No one came to give us a hug, to sit with [her daughter] and rub her back."

The teen's two younger sisters were afraid to go back to the

"They needed their rabbi [to tell them] that God didn't cause this to happen in God's house, that it could happen anywhere," said the
mother, alleging that Temple Sinai's clergy provided the family with no solace or counseling.

"The kids and I lived there. It was a second home, and all of a
sudden to be cut off, to feel totally isolated, no warmth, nothing," she said.

The mother said that the teen, who has learning disabilities and was enrolled in special education classes at a local public school, was unable to face a classroom following the assault.

Her mother home-schooled her for the remainder of the 2003-2004
school year, and last fall the teenager enrolled in a private school.

The family also is disturbed that Guerra, who is from Guatemala, is
in this country illegally, and wonders whether synagogue officials had done a background check on him.

Neither of the synagogue's rabbis, Fred Reiner nor Mindy Portnoy, responded to inquiries last week. Instead, Simms spoke on behalf of the synagogue's clergy and lay leaders.

"Out of respect for the privacy of the parties involved and what we consider to be the extraordinary sensitivity of the matter, Temple Sinai does not intend to make any additional comments at this time," Simms said.

"There may come a time when public comment may be appropriate," he added.

Asked if the rabbis would respond to the family's charges of feeling
abandoned, Simms cited clergy confidentiality.

He also would not comment on past or present hiring procedures.

Asked if the synagogue could be liable in a civil suit, a Rockville lawyer said "the synagogue has definite exposure, but the case would be fact dependent."

However, David Felsen said, if Temple Sinai officials "knowingly
hired an undocumented alien, they face potential sanctions by the
federal government."

He also noted that Guerra would be subject to deportation upon his

Simms would not comment on Guerra's immigration status.

At 9:35 AM, Blogger MoChassid said...


Sorry, I accidentally deleted your email. I can confirm that the person you mentioned has not given his wife a get since August 2001. I understand that he also does not pay child support.

At 10:08 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

Thanks, I plan to post on this after Shabbos and will likely keep the post at or near the top for a while.

Utterly disgusting that there are people who deal with this deadbeat and honor him in any way.

It must change.

At 11:42 AM, Blogger MoChassid said...

I couldn't agree more. I am hearing a groundswell of commotion among many people in my neighborhood as a result of the article in the paper extolling his virtues. 15 people wrote to the editor. he published one letter and edited out all references to names. pathetic.

At 9:42 PM, Blogger Reb Yudel said...

JWW: Drop me an email. I occasionally stumble across stories that might be of interest to you, but you don't seem to have a mail drop.

you can reach me at larry at yudel dot com


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