"I told [Rabbi Joel Roth] that I could corroborate everything I said but he ignored me. When I pointed out that I had read in the New York Times that day that a CEO had lost his job for a similar sexual impropriety, he said, "This won't make the New York Times.”
Rabbi Joel Roth is a former dean of the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Conservative Movement's flagship institution, He was forced to resign that position 20 years ago, allegedly after sexually harassing a male student at the Conservative Movement's West Coast seminary in Los Angeles. Roth had held the title of dean of JTS once before that but lost it – allegedly for similar bad behavior.
Nonetheless, Roth was allowed to remain on staff at JTS as a full professor – a position he still holds.
Roth was also a senior member ot the Conservative Movement's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards – a position he held even after the alleged harassment took place.
Joel Roth's son Akiva pleaded guilty in 1997 to charges related to the sexual abuse of pre-teen boys he was teaching in preparation for their bar mitzvahs. Even so, Akiva Roth went on to teach at JTS while he was still serving his probation-only sentence, and he was hired to teach at Yeshiva University this school year (YU fired Akiva Roth after his history of child sex abuse was exposed) – even though YU's high school students were allowed to take Akiva Roth's classes, even though Roth was located nearby YU's affiliated high school's dorms, and even though YU is in the middle of a massive child sex abuse lawsuit based on its previous mishandling of child sex abuse allegations.
Why Joel Roth still teaches at JTS, and why his was allowed to hold any position of responsibility within the Conservative Movement, is still unclear. But the following story highlights the danger of having a person like Roth on staff and in positions of power.
A reader writes:
I used to teach at a Jewish Day School and about eight years ago I was very disturbed about the sexual relationship a rabbi at the school was having with someone he was supervising. The head of the school had offered him her protection from the board in exchange for his acting as her "spy.” It was an awful situation - for example, he would report confidential conversations to her.
I decided to report this unethical behavior. Since he was a member of the Rabbinical Assembly, I was given by my rabbi at the time the name and number of the contact person on the Rabbinical Assembly's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards. This was [Rabbi] Joel Roth. He dismissed everything I said as a "He said, she said" situation.
I told him that I could corroborate everything I said but he ignored me. When I pointed out that I had read in the New York Times that day that a CEO had lost his job for a similar sexual impropriety, he said, "This won't make the New York Times.”
At the time I was unaware of how compromised Roth was. How the Rabbinical Assembly could put him in that position of authority is beyond me.(Actually, I do understand it - that and other Chillul HaShems I saw have transferred me into someone who is very bitter about institutionalized Judaism).…