A college student who was in the process of converting to Judaism under the auspices of alleged voyeur Rabbi Barry Freundel and who took two "practice dunks" in the mikvah because Freundel told her to do it, writes about the pain the revelations of Freundel's secret videotaping of naked women in the mikvah (ritual bath) has caused her.
Above: Rabbi Barry Freundel
A college student, Stephanie Doucette, who was in the process of converting to Judaism under the auspices of alleged voyeur Rabbi Barry Freundel and who took two "practice dunks" in the mikvah because Freundel told her to do it, writes in the Jewish Week about the pain the revelations of Freundel's secret videotaping of naked women in the mikvah (ritual bath) has caused her:
…After a week my anger gave way to a full depression. I began to find myself obsessing over this, going over every detail of the past year and a half. The only part of my conversion process that I cannot go back to in my mind are those immersions. I remember bits and pieces, but I don’t know if I can ever allow myself to fully remember. How can I when I know someone may have videotaped and watched me? I have begun to find myself crying at random times throughout the day, whether it be sitting in a Starbucks or picking out dinner at the grocery store. I don’t know how to dress anymore. Even undressing in the privacy of my own bedroom is difficult right now. I can only wonder what other potential victims might be going through right now.
I know there are people who would wonder why someone like myself started a conversion process with Rabbi Freundel, or why I stayed so long. These are questions that are going to personally plague me for the rest of my life. All I know is that I justified it by telling myself that this conversion process would be the best for my future children. If I didn’t do this, then they may have to go through this process themselves one day. That was a thought I couldn’t bear, so I kept going.
Now I am choosing to speak out, not only for my children someday, but for future generations. There are many who will not like to hear what I have to say. That has become painfully obvious over the past week. But if potential victims like myself don’t speak out then tragedies like this will only continue happen. Sexual abuse is a problem that occurs in every religious group, but it only continues when those communities fail to speak out. As I now struggle with blaming myself for what has happened, I can only look forward. Forward to a life where I continue to speak out. A life where I help others who have experienced abuse in their religious communities. But for now, like other countless potential victims, I have to wait, wait for days upon days until we receive a phone call telling us whether or not videotaped footage of us was found.…
Doucette also talks about being sexually harassed by Kesher Israel members – Freundel's response to her complaint about that was that the same thing would happen to her in any community, because she is young and pretty – and Freundel's own frequent remarks about her beauty.
Read it all here.