Julie Guilfoyle
Mental Health Therapist, Writer and Victim Advocate

Victim Implores CCAR President to Address Abuses by the CCAR Ethics Committee

Shadow of a man with fingers in his ears
Shadow of a man with fingers in his ears

I am committed to continuing to publish articles, victim’s stories, and open letters to the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and the Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) until there is an authentic commitment to transparency and real evidence of change. CCAR’s ongoing refusal to change its policies and mandate that rabbis involved in investigations follow state laws to report child abuse and crimes during investigations is beyond unacceptable, it is often a crime. Their current policies go against the most basic of our Jewish traditions to protect the vulnerable. During investigations, CCAR policy often allows abuse and criminal behavior to continue unabated. Participants in the “Ethics” process continue to say that they are being harmed and mistreated by CCAR during investigations. CCAR is an active participant in causing harm to victims in the Jewish community, and they are ignoring victims who call them out on it.

Must we, the victims, educate rabbis on the meaning of T’Shuvah? It is hard to educate when the lines of communication are so firmly closed. What happened to their promises of listening to victims, transparency, and T’Shuvah? T’Shuvah requires more than elaborate grandiose statements of remorse while under public scrutiny. T’Shuvah requires listening to victims, introspection, changing harmful policies, and restitution.  

The following letter was written by a victim and sent to the President of CCAR in June 2024. It requests that the Executive Board respond to victims and take immediate action. CCAR has failed to respond. Minor corrections and redactions were made for publication.

CCAR President Erica Ashe

I was contacted by the New York Attorney General in a request for additional information so they are taking this very seriously. I would imagine so, given the many complaints they have received about CCAR lately. Another person is in the process of completing a new complaint to submit as well. She asked me to Zoom and to talk about what to put in it. I was more than happy to help her.

I believe that you have read the emails that I have sent you. So you are okay with all of this going on behind closed doors and in a vacuum with no accountability?  You are okay that you are the President, and there was no way for you to find out from victims that this was and is going on? You are okay with victims having nowhere to turn and being threatened repeatedly by the Ethics Committee? You are okay that there is no process for the Board to find out when things go this bad until you get contact from the Attorney General or some outside agency? How is that working out? This could have been prevented. A complaint process or a method for an independent review would have alerted the Board of Directors to the problems and stopped this from ending up in the hands of law enforcement.

It seems like you are okay with it. An ethical agency would have responded to victims and whistleblowers and not ignored them. An ethical agency would have said that they were looking into this, even if they were not sure what they were going to do. The Executive Board’s silence causes more harm and sends the message that the victims involved in these complaints will continue to be harmed and ignored by CCAR, now with the Executive Board’s complicity. An agency that wanted the public’s trust would be transparent and would announce to the public that they had again failed and were looking into taking serious action. At a minimum, an ethical agency would have contacted all of the victims involved and told them they were taking this seriously and would be in touch. Unfortunately, CCAR’s lack of that ethical behavior, transparency and accountability no longer surprises me and, at this point, is what I expect. But I continue to reach out in hopes that SOMEONE in this agency has ethics and will do the right thing.  

You can tell yourselves that you can’t do anything but this is deluding yourselves.  The Executive Board is liable for all that has happened to us and all that continues to happen to victims while you take no action. The Board has the power to dissolve the entire Ethics Committee or replace members if it wishes. If I remember correctly from your bylaws, you were the one that approved [redacted] to become the Chair of the “Ethics” Committee while she had an active ethics complaint pending that I filed against her, in an attempt to get the committee to look at how I was being treated. Did they tell you when they had you appoint her that she was accused of misconduct? Well they don’t have to, now, do they, because they can wield their complete unquestionable power behind closed curtains.

Can’t you see that allowing them to function in a vacuum like this with no accountability is going to continue to turn out just like this?   Absolute power absolutely corrupts. There was nowhere for me to go to get help, except for law enforcement, and I shouldn’t have waited so long. I shouldn’t have tried to get any of you to listen because I know that [the offending synagogue] will now never be held accountable for some of their crimes because of you and yours. There is no way that there is time for them to investigate these things in time due to the expiring statute of limitations and the obstruction of justice by your own “Ethics” Committee. Law Enforcement is two months away from the statute of limitations on some of these crimes and that is on you.

I know you and [redacted] are good friends. I know you will care more about what happens to her than what happened or will happen to us. Part of me is an eternal optimist and hopes that you and the Executive Board are disturbed by what you are reading, but if nothing else, I want the Board to know what they are ignoring because it WILL continue to happen. I also want to be able to say publicly that I sent it to you myself. You are ultimately responsible, and you can never deny knowing the truth. If we thought the Board cared, it would matter. If we thought the Board was listening, it would matter. If we thought the Board was committed to making any changes, it would matter, but instead, we are met with the same silence dished out by your “Ethics” Committee as when we cried to them for help.  They ignored our tears, our pleas for help, or begging for intervention, just like you are doing right now. We are waiting. We are watching. We are listening. What you are doing right now is one of the biggest problems. You are functioning in the dark, in silence, and behind [closed] curtains with no transparency. When will it stop?

[a victim of synagogue abuse]

If you would like to file a report with the New York Attorney General’s office regarding CCAR or the URJ, the instructions to do so are here. If you would like volunteers to submit information for you, you may send information to

If you would like to send information to or communicate anonymously with volunteers fighting for change within the URJ / CCAR ethics system, we can be reached at

If you are one of us, know that

We See You

We Hear You

We Believe You

שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָד

About the Author
Julie has been working as a therapist with abuse and trauma victims for more than 25 years. She began her career working in the areas of child behavior, child abuse, and abuse investigations. She worked as a forensic interviewer and served as an expert witness in abuse and trauma. She trained CPS workers on forensic interviewing, investigation, and interviewing ethics. She brings a unique view to women's issues, victimization, trauma, and ethics. She has recently developed an interest in Jewish ethics. Her background in abuse issues, advocacy, ethics, and investigations work drives her pursuit for justice, fairness, and transparency in the world of Jewish ethics.
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