Dear Oheb Family,
You have received many communications from me in the past few months. None of them has been easy to deliver. As you know, in May of this year we shared with you that Temple Oheb Shalom reported to the Central Conference of American Rabbis (“CCAR”) an allegation against Rabbi Fink of an improper sexual incident from years ago with a then minor congregant, and we noted the CCAR’s mandate to consider a broad range of alleged misconduct.
The CCAR, the rabbinic leadership organization of Reform Judaism of which Rabbi Fink is a member, holds its member rabbis to a high standard as set forth in its ethical guidelines. The CCAR describes its Code of Ethics as an “‘ecclesiastical’ system, based on religious principles and our lived experience and shared expectations as rabbis.” Among its goals is “maintaining safe and sacred communities served by rabbis who live up to the highest moral values.” The CCAR is tasked with investigating allegations of violations of its ethical guidelines. https://www.ccarne
Rabbi Fink has been under suspension with pay from Temple Oheb Shalom while the CCAR has undertaken its process. Over the past several months, the CCAR conducted its investigation thoroughly and independently in accord with its procedures. The investigation included:
- Consideration of multiple claims of inappropriate conduct.
- Interviews with over 20 witnesses, some in person and some by telephone, including individuals supportive of Rabbi Fink.
- Review of written submissions, including submissions by Rabbi Fink and by Temple Oheb Shalom.
- Interview with Rabbi Fink in the presence of his legal counsel.
- Review of relevant documents.
Both Rabbi Fink and Temple Oheb Shalom had the opportunity to review the information set forth in the CCAR’s initial investigation findings, and had the opportunity to provide additional comments and corrections as necessary. Both Rabbi Fink and Temple Oheb Shalom were given the right to appear in person before the CCAR’s Ethics Committee (“EC”) (of approximately 14 members). Temple Oheb Shalom did not appear in person. Rabbi Fink did appear.
We learned late in the day Friday that following completion of its investigation and adjudication, the CCAR Ethics Committee voted to suspend Rabbi Fink for multiple violations of Section IB (Personal Responsibility, Social), Section IIA (Rabbinic Relationships, the Congregational Staff), and Section V (Ethics Guidelines Concerning Sexual Boundaries). The CCAR Ethics Code states that unless otherwise directed, “a rabbi under suspension may not . . . engage in the practice of the rabbinate in any institution, including but not limited to congregations affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism.” Specifically, the CCAR informed us that “As a condition of Rabbi Fink’s Suspension, effective immediately, he must absent himself from all activities of Temple Oheb Shalom and any other Reform congregation unless otherwise approved by the EC.”
In light of the CCAR’s findings and suspension of Rabbi Fink from the CCAR, Rabbi Fink’s suspension from Temple Oheb Shalom continues until the Board convenes in the coming days to determine our next steps. We will provide additional information following that Board meeting. Rabbi Fink has the opportunity to appeal the CCAR’s adjudication to the CCAR Board of Appeals. However, the CCAR informs us that its suspension is effective immediately and remains in place during any appeal.
We are deeply saddened by these events. The past months have been extremely painful for so many of us in the Oheb family and have taken a toll on our congregation. We appreciate hearing from so many of you over the past months on the future of our beloved Temple and are continuing our work to solidify the vision of who we want to be as a congregation going forward.
We want you to know how much Temple Oheb Shalom values your commitment to our congregation and community. Our top priority will always be to provide a safe and welcoming spiritual home for you and your families. Thank you for your ongoing patience, trust and support as we move forward together as a congregation.
Mina Wender, President