Photo courtesy of Temple Emanu-El

Temple Emanu-El has fired a rabbi, who was accused of sexual misconduct during his time as a rabbi at a synagogue in New York, the Dallas Morning News reported.

Sheldon Zimmerman was accused of having sexual contact with a minor while he was at Central Synagogue in Manhattan from 1972-1985, the synagogue wrote in an April 27 letter to its congregants. Central Synagogue also said in the letter it had hired the Morgan Lewis law firm to investigate and interview past and present senior staff.

At the time Central Synagogue published the letter, three women had spoken with Morgan Lewis about allegations of sexually predatory behavior by Zimmerman during the 1970s and 1980s.

“After a thorough and independent investigation, which included an interview with Rabbi Zimmerman, our legal team found the women and their respective stories to be credible,” Central Synagogue wrote in the letter.

Zimmerman was Central Synagogue’s senior rabbi from 1972-1985 before he became the senior rabbi at Temple Emanu-El, a position he kept until 1996.

Temple Emanu-El informed its congregation of the news in an April 28 letter.

“While we have no indication of misconduct during Rabbi Zimmerman’s tenure as Temple’s Senior Rabbi, or during his return later in 2017 as ongoing Scholar in Residence, we are responsible for acting on the information now available to us,” the synagogue said. “Accordingly, upon receiving this new information, Temple Emanu-El terminated Rabbi Zimmerman’s employment.”

Zimmerman resigned as president of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2000 after an investigation into inappropriate “personal relationships.” And Temple Emanu-El said in the letter, if more information about the allegations detailed in Central Synagogue’s letter had been known, the temple would not have employed Zimmerman.

Temple Emanu-El hired Arcadi Jackson LLP to investigate the synagogue’s past and current practices, gather facts and report findings to a special committee put together by the congregation’s president.

“With this process and every day, we are pledged to the vital and unfinished work of making Temple Emanu-El a place of sacred encounter,” Temple Emanu-El wrote in the letter.


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