Question Stolen off Twitter

If you were in charge of membership in your shul, you would allow a registered sex-offender to be become a member? (asked by @yeedle)


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  1. non believer says:

    Sure, why not? I think it’s horribly sad that this could ever be a real question, but if he or she has done tshuvah, how is that different than any other Jew who sinned and is trying to do better?

    Anyway, the guy or gal won’t be sitting within grabbing distance of a memer of the opposite gender.

    Now, if it’s a SAME-SEX offender…..

  2. Lisa Danton says:

    Translating that question to our spiritual tradition… no way. Our core tennant is “harm none”, just their pressence will cause harm. Forgiveness is not required.

  3. Frayda says:

    HELL NO!

  4. batya from NJ says:

    It would make me VERY uncomfortable.

    • Chanief says:

      Same here, I think it would depend on the nature of the crime. For example, there have been cases where a young man, having had consensual sex with his minor girlfriend, has been convicted and had to be registered as a sex offender, even though they were both teenagers (a hypothetical example being a 16 year old boy who had sex with a 15 year old girl.) I wouldn’t have an issue with a sex offender of that nature, but an adult who molested children would not be welcome in an environment where there are children present.

      • Chanief you took the words right out of my mouth. That is exactly the kind of case that came to mind where it would be a different situation. When it comes to a child molester, though, I honestly wouldn’t want them in my shul. I also don’t go to an Orthodox shul, so men and women sit together and I would never want a child molester sitting next to the children at my shul.

  5. lady lock and load says:

    In my congregation, we do not drive to shul on shabbos so a related question would be if I mind a sex offender living in my neighborhood? I sure would, even if he is religious. Would get me nervous.
    If he wants to join my congregation I would do research on what could happen if we deny it to him…will he bring the shul into court, claiming discrimination? Will he be upset and therefore be a nasty neighbor? I would probably call a membership meeting and discuss how best to handle this situation, plus ask the Rabbi for his opinion.

    • Mark says:

      If a shul runs classes for children (like the Shabbat morning children tefillah groups), could it be considered a “school” and thus the person may not be permitted within 1000 feet of there in any case (in some jurisdictions).

  6. mekubal says:

    I agree with Chanief, it would depend on the crime, however, unless it was such a situation of teenage consensual sex, I would be very uncomfortable with it.

    More and more states are taking the question out of the hands of the congregations. South Carolina was the most recent to ban sex-offenders from places of worship where children are present.

    I doubt you will see that legislation anytime soon in New York, all things considered, but yeah for the most part, I would say no.

    • I agree. It would only make sense to extend the protection granted to places like schools and playgrounds to another place where there are likely to be children present, which is places of worship. A sex offender can’t get near children during the week at school but they can go to the same church or shul as them on the weekend? Completely counter-intuitive.

  7. Z! says:

    It is up to the congregation to brting their concern to their Rav who will make the final decision. A Rav can ask someone not to attend their shul. Sadly, there are sex offenders/child molesters in our midsts and we must always be vigilant and teach our children appropriate touch and how to behave around “strangers”.

  8. Duvii says:


    When one well know RSO walked into our Shul, we asked him to leave.

    There is no place for such a person in a place where are raising our children. There is enough risk in this world, why add more?

  9. kisarita says:

    Yes, but he would have to agree to have his poster posted in front of the shul, and there need to be 2-3 shul members who would take responsibility to monitor his activities in shul.
    Parents should be updated periodically to his presence as well.
    The Rabbi has to take responsibility to protect him from being attacked and assaulted in the shul.

  10. tikunolam says:

    I am with Chanief as well.

    Non Believer my friend, I know you don’t want to say anything about your religious background or affliliations but you give yourself away if you say men sit separately from women.

  11. tikunolam says:

    Oh, and on the issue of teshuva, it does not apply here. Teshuva does not rehabilitate and not all sex offenders can be rehabilitated. I would never take a chance with a pedophile. Recidivism stats are way, way too high, I don’t care how much teshuva he does. He is as dangerous as before he did teshuva.

  12. Lion of Zion says:

    no way.

    as far the teshuvah issue that someone mentioned on top, what does teshuvah have to do with it? teshuvah is between him and god and between him and the victim(s). he’s still a threat to the public and that’s why i wouldn’t want him in shul. it’s not a punishment for what he did in the past, but fear of what he might do in the future.

    (i also don’t understant why some commenters feel this is an issue for the shul rabbi to decide.)

    • Mark says:

      LOZ – (i also don’t understant why some commenters feel this is an issue for the shul rabbi to decide.)

      Definitely not the Rabbis decision. Membership eligibility should be the boards decision. And I would hope that the Rabbi would have too much rachmanut to do this kind of job.

      Also, per halacha, we execute a ben sorer umoreh because of his potential future actions, I think kal vachomer we may exclude someone from the bet knesset for their potential future actions.

  13. kisarita says:

    BTW, an offender who abuses children has to be considered dangerous to both boys and girls.
    (A rapist of adults on the other hand could be put into hetero/or homo category).

  14. Miriam says:

    In England, a member of Stanmore shul was sent to jail for sex offences. Before he was released the shul asked members whether he should be allowed back into the shul, and he was eventually banned:

  15. kisarita says:

    Molestors who are ostracized are more likely to reoffend.

    However, you folks are right in that I don’t think the community is ready yet to effectively supervise his reentry. Maybe in another ten years or so.

    The way things are going, with cover up and all, just banning him is progress.

  16. non believer says:

    tikun olam, if we are talking about a non-Orthodox house of worship, the question does not even begin.
    They do not have any concept of obligatory prayer (except for perhaps Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur). No one wants a RSO in their community centers or country clubs, and as such there’s not even a first thought that he or she would be allowed into a non-Orthodox place.

    In Orthodoxy, there is the concept of obligatory prayer, and prayer within the context of a minyan. If the RSO is a man, there might be a problem in Jewish law to prevent him from praying in a minyan.

    I know we all want to protect our families from predators of all types, but does this go to far? We make sex offenders register. If they move to almost anywhere in the country, their neighbors will know about their past. For the rest of their lives, they will never make another friend, likely won’t be able to get another job, effectively they must live in societal solitary confinement.

    If we’re going to effectively end a SO’s life like this – better that we should physically end his life with a lethal injection. In many ways, that would be more humane.

  17. Rebecca says:

    I replied to another post on this subject but I want to reiterate: 1) Being ostrasized has NOTHING to do with offending or reoffending and 2) Being separated in a shul has nothing to do with the sex of the offender. While it is much more difficult to prove that a woman offended on a child, because women are by nature nurturers, I have personally met 2 female preditors, not a huge amount compared to male, but the nature of the act upon the victim causes the same problems.

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