The director of Chabad of East Brunswick has been arrested on child molestation charges that allegedly occurred almost 12 years earlier while he was counselor at a Chabad camp in Pennsylvania.
Rabbi Aryeh Goodman, 30, was arrested Jan. 3 on a warrant out of the Blooming Grove barracks of the Pennsylvania State Police, alleging several counts of indecent assault on a person less than 13 years of age, police spokesperson Trooper Adam Reed told NJJN.
The barracks is in Pikes County, where the assault on the boy is alleged to have occurred at Camp Menachem in Lackawaxen Township on June 1, 2001.
Although reports have said Goodman was taken into custody by the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Department and was being held in the Middlesex County Adult Corrections Center awaiting extradition to Pennsylvania, a jail spokesperson told NJJN he had never been there. The Pikes County Correctional Facility also said he had never been held there.
Calls and faxed inquiries for further details to the Pikes County Magistrate’s Office, which confirmed it is handling the case, were not returned by press time.
Goodman, the son of Rabbi Boruch and Sarah Goodman, grew up in Highland Park. The elder Goodman is the campus director at Chabad House at Rutgers University.
Chabad of East Brunswick is affiliated with Chabad House-Lubavitch Inc. at Rutgers University; it is not part of the Lubavitch World Headquarters in Brooklyn that is represented in New Jersey by the Rabbinical College of America in Morristown and its affiliates.
Goodman and his wife, Ora Malka, took over Chabad of East Brunswick in 2006, focusing on educating children. It operates the Chai Central Hebrew School for children ages six-14, stressing “the inculcation of Jewish values and ethics” and “mutual tolerance and respect for fellow human beings as basic principles of the Jewish faith” It also offers bar and bat mitzva instruction and operates the Chai Early Childhood Center.
It also ran a Friendship Club, providing support for special-needs children, their parents, and siblings that was disbanded last year.
News of the arrest spread quickly via social media, producing shock. Michael Goldstein of East Brunswick, whose 12-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter attend school at the Chabad’s Hebrew school, doesn’t believe the charges. He said others who know Goodman share his sentiments.
“My children love him,” said Goldstein. “I completely trust him with my kids. I think he is a warm, honest, good man and one of the most decent and spiritual people I have ever met. I don’t understand how such horrible charges can be brought against such a wonderful person.”
Added Goldstein: “I truly love him and consider him and the whole Goodman family part of my family. He is my rabbi, and my heart is breaking. I just hope he’s able to clear himself and move on with his life. I still hope he will do my son’s bar mitzva in November.”
Attempts to reach family members and obtain comment were unsuccessful.
Goodman founded the annual Good Deed Awards, honoring teen community service leaders from across the state and bringing together MTV stars, elected officials, and state executives. This year’s ceremony was held in the Assembly chambers of the Statehouse.
Goodman has served as chaplain at Chelsea assisted living in East Brunswick.
Last year, the East Brunswick Township Council allowed the Goodmans to pay $35,000 annually on a 30-year lease to renovate and use the shuttered McGinnis School as a community education center. Several weeks ago Goodman told NJJN he was working with township officials and expected to have the building up to code within the coming weeks.
Soon after taking over in 2006, Goodman had said he began to focus on programming for children, running a sleepover camp the previous summer in Keansburg for 25 children. Over this first winter he took another group of young people snow tobogganing in Pennsylvania.