Prominent rabbi wins in court, but debate will go on

For several years, much of the Orthodox Jewish community in New York and beyond has been riveted by accusations against Rabbi Mordecai Tendler, a prominent rabbi from Monsey who comes from a very prominent line of rabbis.

In 2005, the Rabbinical Council of America, which represents Orthodox rabbis, expelled Tendler because of accusations of womanizing. It was a shocking stand from an organization that does not generally make waves.

Tendler’s congregation, Kehillat New Hempstead, also let him go.

tendler_mordecai2.jpegTendler denied that he did anything wrong. But the charges against him have been hashed out — passionately — on Orthodox websites and blogs by both supporters and critics of the rabbi. At one point, Tendler asked a California court to force Google to identity four anonymous blog writers.

One woman who accused Tendler of using his authority to seduce her into a 3-year affair filed a civil lawsuit against her former spiritual leader. But New York’s top appeals court dismissed her case yesterday, ruling that the woman could not make a legal claim based on seduction (whether she was seduced or not).

The majority ruled that “no cause of action can be maintained for an extended voluntary affair between consenting adults.”

Tendler’s lawyers are saying that he is vindicated. Clearly, not everyone will see it that way. The court said that Tender’s accuser could not sue him on “seduction” grounds. The court did not say that an affair did not happen.

Disagreement over what really happened will go on.