Rabbi caught in Internet sex sting

Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2005


Click here to enlarge this photo
Gazette file photo
Rabbi David Kaye served at Congregation Har Shalom for 15 years until 2001.



Parents at Congregation Har Shalom synagogue in Potomac — shaken by the revelation that their former rabbi allegedly used the Internet to arrange a meeting with an underage boy for sex — will get a lesson in online safety this week.

Rabbi David Kaye was the rabbi at Har Shalom for 15 years until 2001. ‘‘Dateline NBC” reported Friday that Kaye and several other adults were caught in an Internet sting.

‘‘People were shocked and saddened,” said Har Shalom President Debbie Schapiro.

In reaction to the ‘‘Dateline” program, Schapiro said the congregation is holding a meeting this week with parents of children in seventh through ninth grades with experts who will discuss how to talk to children about being safe on the Internet.

‘‘We’ve learned as parents that we have to be careful with our children,” she said. There were never any allegations of inappropriate behavior with minors at the synagogue, Schapiro said.

Kaye, 55, of Potomac, was caught in an investigation of online child predators by NBC correspondent Chris Hansen and watchdog group Perverted Justice in August. Members of Perverted Justice posed as children ages 12 to 14 in online chat rooms.

Kaye allegedly sent naked pictures of himself over the Internet to one member of the watchdog group and arranged to meet him at a house in Northern Virginia, where the NBC crew and Perverted Justice group were waiting.

Kaye was one of 19 men who showed up at the house after arranging online to meet children there for sex.

The Montgomery County Police Department Family Crimes Division is following up with the Fairfax County Police and with members of Perverted Justice to get more information and to determine if there will be any charges, said Lt. Eric Burnett, director of the Media Services Division for Montgomery County Police.

‘‘It’s very disheartening,” Schapiro said. ‘‘A lot of people are just feeling very sad.”

During his time at Har Shalom, Kaye served as an associate rabbi. He had broad responsibilities at the 1,100-family synagogue, including leading services and teaching adult education and children.

Kaye resigned last week from his position as vice president for program at PANIM: The Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values, an education program for teenagers in Rockville.

‘‘Rabbi David Kaye ... informed me of certain personal conduct that took place outside of our organization, that may soon be aired as part of a larger news story on national television,” PANIM President Rabbi Sid Schwarz said in a statement on the group’s Web site dated Oct. 31. ‘‘He immediately tendered his resignation, which I accepted.”

In his statement, Schwarz said that the group is investigating to make sure there has been no misconduct at PANIM. There have been no complaints, allegations or evidence of improprieties, the statement said.