Shalom Hartman Institute hires ex-Ramah Berkshires director

Shalom Hartman Institute hires ex-Ramah Berkshires director

Rabbi Ethan Linden
Rabbi Ethan Linden

Six months after a lawsuit claimed that he mishandled an allegation of sexual assault between campers at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires, the camp’s former director, Rabbi Ethan Linden, has a new job.

Rabbi Linden was placed on leave one week after the lawsuit was filed, and National Ramah Commission Director Amy Skopp Cooper, who lived in South Orange for decades, led Camp Ramah in the Berkshires last summer. On Nov. 1, Susie Charendoff of Englewood took over as its interim director.

Rabbi Linden is now director of educational operations and design for the Shalom Hartman Institute, the Jewish education nonprofit confirmed. The job involves supporting Hartman’s educational programs throughout the year in a “vital internal coordination and consultative role,” according to a Hartman spokesperson.

The Shalom Hartman Institute runs more than 1,000 programs over the course of a year, ranging from one-off lectures to convenings of thought leaders to a gap year program in Israel. It also operates two high schools, one in the United States and one in Israel.

The spokesperson declined to say whether Rabbi Linden would have any contact with the teens involved in Hartman’s programs but said in a statement, “We maintain rigorous processes for screening and evaluating prospective employees for competence and character in our commitment to the excellence of our work.”

The new job caps a tumultuous period for Rabbi Linden, who was one of three parties named in a lawsuit filed in early May by a former camper at Ramah in the Berkshires, where he had been director since 2016. The camp and Rabbi Linden told the court in August that they had reached a settlement with the former camper, which was finalized last month.

The lawsuit alleged that Rabbi Linden and others overseeing the camp had “acted with deliberate indifference” in the summer of 2018 after the camper alleged that she had been sexually assaulted by a male camper. The lawsuit alleged that Linden did not inform the camper’s family of the assault, and instead pressured her not to tell her parents and involved the police only after her parents learned about the alleged assault.

The suit also claimed that Camp Ramah and National Ramah Commission, the organization that oversees all the Ramah camps, was aware of the alleged assault and how it was handled by at least January 2019, and that they allowed Rabbi Linden to remain in charge. Both groups said in a statement in May that the camp had previously cooperated with law enforcement.

The camp told families on Oct. 16 that Rabbi Linden had resigned, saying, “We wish him all the best and know that we will miss his many talents, his energy and spirit, his warmth, and his passion for Jewish camping.”

He had worked as a rabbi at Shir Chadash Conservative Congregation in Metairie, Louisiana, and at three other Ramah camps.

Jewish Telegraphic Agency

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