WASHINGTON (JTA) – Rabbi David Kaye, who was convicted in 2006 for trying to sexually solicit a minor, was told he could no longer worship in a synagogue in suburban Washington. The board of Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda, Md., notified congregants of the decision just before the High Holidays, the Washington Jewish Week reported Wednesday.
In a Sept. 12 note to its membership, the board wrote in part that it spent a “backbreaking amount of time” researching and discussing the legal and ethical dilemmas presented, including the “safety of our children, responsibility, teshuvah (repentance) and the compelling needs of the community at large,” according to the Washington Jewish Week.
Kaye, a former vice president of programming at Panim: The Institute for Jewish Leaders and Values, based in Rockville, Md., was caught in a sting on “To Catch a Predator,” a reality series featuring investigations by the televison newsmagazine “Dateline NBC.”
Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb, the spiritual leader at Adat Shalom, spoke at length about the board’s deliberations and decision, which he said was not unanimous, during a Rosh Hashanah sermon, according to the newspaper.
“The process was painful, but it was something to be proud of. We were guided by balancing safety with the respect for individuals,” he told the Washington Jewish Week.
Some congregants supporting the decision said that since Adat Shalom’s religious school meets on Shabbat, they were uncomfortable with Kaye’s presence during services, the newspaper reported.
In 2006, Alexandria U.S. District Court Judge James Cacheris convicted Kaye on one count of coercion and enticement, and one count of travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct. Kaye eventually was sentenced to 78 months in prison and 10 years of supervised release.
Last January, he was released from a transitional house in Baltimore. Now 61, Kaye said he is divorced, living in suburban Washington and still wants to pray in a congregation.
“I’ve done teshuvah,” he told the newspaper. “And I feel that God has forgiven me.”
Kaye had been attending Shabbat services at Adat Shalom since February. He believes that because “Dateline NBC” rebroadcasts “To Catch a Predator” periodically that someone in the congregation may have recognized him, which triggered the congregational debate over his presence.