Shaare Shamayim Rabbi Fired Over Ethical Violation

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Rabbi Daniel Wolpe

Congregations of Shaare Shamayim Rabbi Daniel Wolpe was terminated last week for an ethical violation, Executive Director Jacques Lurie said Nov. 6.

Lurie said the synagogue’s staff learned of the violation three weeks ago, then conducted its due diligence. The synagogue’s executive board terminated Wolpe, then informed the congregation board.

“Our board was deeply saddened but took swift and appropriate action,” Lurie said.

Lurie declined to elaborate on the specifics.

A letter about Wolpe’s dismissal was mailed to congregation members on Nov. 3, Lurie said. Wolpe had worked at Shaare Shamayim for about eight years.

“We are all dismayed by Rabbi Wolpe’s actions, and we know that many of our members will be equally disappointed to learn of his inappropriate contact. While it may be hard to reconcile his egregious actions with those of a man who also did much good in our congregation community, the facts are undeniable,” the letter from congregation President Fran Gabriel reads.

“Rabbi Wolpe’s recent actions represent a consistent pattern of disregard for the high standards that our Congregation expects and deserves from its clergy, and puts our good reputation at risk. Thus, his immediate termination was warranted,” the letter continues.

Wolpe could not be immediately reached for comment.

Wolpe previously worked at Temple Israel in Albany, N.Y., but resigned after 18 months on the job, according to a 2009 article in the Times Union. A synagogue official said the resignation was an internal personnel matter.

Wolpe grew up in Philadelphia and previously led congregations in Michigan and Florida. His father, Gerald, was also a rabbi and headed Har Zion Temple for many years. He died in 2013.

Lurie said the synagogue’s board will meet to discuss future plans, but noted that Shaare Shamayim has a “deep bench” of clergy.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. In response to your report of Nov. 6 entitled “Shaare Shamayim Rabbi Fired Over Ethical Violation,” I am compelled to question the ethical behavior of Shaare Shamayim and of the Jewish Exponent? Is this the scoop that makes the press, in staining the reputation of a rabbi by implication – without presenting facts?

    Respected journalists and media outlets should be held accountable to investigative journalism standards as the line dividing professionalism from yellow journalism becomes progressively indiscernible amidst social media and alternative facts.

    Allusions to misconduct, egregious – no less – leave a world of interpretations open. The language attempts to manipulate the reader’s imagination.

    Imagine if at Shaare Shamayim, the leadership worked, b’shem shamayim (in the name of the heavens), together. Imagine senior administrative management, senior lay leadership, and a rabbi confronting an issue together to resolve it in context. Imagine what a different letter could have been shared with the congregation. Imagine what a different story could have been reported by the Jewish Exponent.

    Or would that not have been worth reporting? Has building community been lost in the shuffle when Shaare Shamayim and the Jewish Exponent are positioned to destroy a rabbi’s reputation by allusion to facts?
    Media, as well as sophisticated legal advisors violate the ethics of their professions and engage in self-legitimating claims of playing by the rules. Ethics and rules coexist in conflict. Confronting that might elevate humanity to shaare shamayim (in English, the gates of the heavens).

    Admittedly, I know Rabbi Dan Wolpe. If neither Shaare Shamayim nor Rabbi Wolpe elaborated or commented, far be it from me to share another perspective.

    When we encounter shaare shamayim, we should recall that truth lies in the lines that separate perspectives.

  2. I read your one-sided article, “Shaare Shamayim Rabbi Fired Over Ethical Violation,” in which you bury a man alive. I don’t know him, but one can gather from the story that he fulfilled a role as a respected member of your Jewish community. Without waiting for his response, and without sufficiently substantiating the basis for the accusations, you have published an article which at best raises questions of professional ethics in the media. You simply convey an offensive, amorphous message for the synagogue? What is your justification for engaging in this shaming? Where is your integrity? I don’t know what happened, but the ethical issue you cite can be in any of multiple fields. If I were this rabbi, I would certainly engage the services of a lawyer with expertise in shaming, and who knows what else, since you do not present anything more than sensationalism without facts? In the social media age, I can also share my thoughts on the ethical behavior of the Jewish Exponent.

    • How can a synagogue and a newspaper come out with such a story! First of all, rabbis are human beings just like the rest of us. Why should either Shaare Shamayim or the Jewish Exponent give out damaging information about any individual without facts Seem like a very unJewish thing to do. You should be ashamed.

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