Hartman Institute employs rabbi accused of mishandling sexual assault

JTA — Six months after a lawsuit alleging him for mishandling an allegation of sexual assault between residents of Camp Ramah, a summer camp program in the Berkshires, the program’s former director, Rabbi Ethan Linden, has found a new job.

The Jewish Association confirmed that Linden took up his post as director of educational operations and design at the Shalom Hartman Institute on Monday. The position involves supporting Hartman’s educational programs throughout the year by performing a “vital internal coordination and advisory role,” according to a Hartman spokesperson.

The Shalom Hartman Institute runs more than a thousand programs throughout the year, ranging from one-off conferences to thought leader gatherings, to a gap year program in Israel. It also operates two high schools, one in the United States and the other in Israel.

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The spokesperson wouldn’t say if Linden would have any contact with teens involved in Hartman’s programs, but said “we maintain rigorous processes for screening and evaluating potential employees in terms of competence and character in our commitment to excellence in our work”.

The new job caps a tumultuous period for Linden, who was one of three named parties in a lawsuit filed in early May by a former participant of a summer camp in the Berkshires organized by Camp Ramah, of which he had been director since 2016. Camp Ramah and Linden told the court in August that they had reached an agreement with the former boarder, which was finalized last month.

The lawsuit alleges Linden and others overseeing the summer camp program ‘acted with willful indifference’ in the summer of 2018 after a participant alleged she was sexually assaulted by a fellow student. male. The lawsuit alleges that Linden failed to tell the girl’s family of the assault, and instead pressured her not to tell her parents and only involved the police after his parents learned of the alleged assault.

The complaint also claims that Camp Ramah and the National Ramah Commission, the organization that oversees all programs offered by Ramah, were aware of the alleged assault and how it was handled, at least as early as January 2019, and that they allowed Linden to remain in charge. Both groups said in a statement in May that they have previously cooperated with law enforcement.

Linden was furloughed a week after the complaint was filed, and National Ramah Commission director Amy Skopp Cooper ran the Camp Ramah program in the Berkshires last summer. On November 1, Susie Charendoff took over as interim director.

Camp Ramah notified the families on October 16 that Linden had resigned from his position.

“We wish him the best and know that his many talents, his energy and spirit, his warmth and his passion for Jewish summer camps will be missed,” Camp Ramah said in a statement.

Linden had previously worked as a rabbi at the Masorti Shir Chadash congregation in Metairie, Louisiana, near New Orleans, and at three other Ramah program summer camps.

A lawyer for Ethan Linden did not respond to a request for comment at press time.

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Hartman Institute employs rabbi accused of mishandling sexual assault