Barry Freundel

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Bernard (Barry) Freundel is the rabbi of Kesher Israel congregation in Washington DC, and a leading rabbi in the Modern Orthodox Jewish world. He is Vice-President of the Vaad of Washington and head of the conversion committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. Rabbi Freundel is regarded as a resource and authority on eruvim, and has assisted in their construction in a number of cities, including Washington.

A writer and lecturer, Rabbi Freundel addresses topics ranging from environmentalism to Jewish medical ethics. Popular among collegiates, he has served as a visiting scholar at Princeton, Yale and Cornell and guest lecturer at Columbia, University of Chicago and other universities. He is also an adjunct professor at several universities. Due to his congregation's proximity to The George Washington University, he has taught at and visited that institution with particular frequency. Similarly, his proximity to Capitol Hill has facilitated his participation in governmental affairs as a consultant and commentator.



Other activities[edit]



Freundel believes that according to the Halakha, abortion is only permitted when a woman is in "hard travail" and her life is in danger. This is a very limiting position, Freundel pointed out, since there must be serious danger to the mother. This does, however, also include cases where there is significant psychological trauma, wherein continuing the pregnancy could inflict significant or mortal harm to the mother in that fashion (such as a rape victim who become suicidal). Freundel believes that there is no way, under Jewish law, to allow partial-birth abortion, since once the head has emerged, the baby is considered to be born.[1]


Freundel sees two issues with cloning from a halakhic perspective. The first is whether cloning is allowed, and the second is whether a clone would be considered a human being.

He does not view cloning as being prohibited by halakha, and even sees "becoming a partner with God in the works of creation" as a noble goal.[2] He does however support regulation, and at a congressional hearing urged congress not to prohibit human cloning, but to regulate it. He argued that human knowledge and technology are inherently neutral, and it's what's done with them that is important.[3]

Human beings do the best that they can. If our best cost/benefit analysis says go ahead, we go ahead. ‘G-d protects the simple’ is a Talmudic principle that allows us to assume that when we do our best G-d will take care of what we could not foresee or anticipate. If things do not work out, the theological question is G-d's to answer; not ours [4]

Freundel strongly maintains that a clone would be considered a human being under Jewish law.[5]


Rabbi Freundel published Homosexuality and Judaism in the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society. In it he argued that there is no category for "homosexual" in halakha. A homosexual then is no different from any other Jew who has committed a sin. Since Freundel views homosexuality as an activity rather than a state of being, he advocates the kiruv approach - trying to make a less observant Jew more observant by following halakha.

Judaism rejects the suggestions that homosexuality is either a form of mental illness or an "acceptable alternate lifestyle." Judaism's positions would be a third and as yet unconsidered option. Homosexuality is an activity entered into volitionally by individuals, who may be psychologically healthy, which is maladaptive and inappropriate. [6]


Rabbi Freundel has published literally hundreds of works on a variety of subjects too numerous to list here, however he is currently the author of two books:


  1. ^ NRLC 2000 Most Abortions Forbidden by Jewish Law
  2. ^ as a noble goal. Freundel, Barry, Contemporary Orthodox Judaism's Response to Modernity, Ktav publishers, Feb 2003.
  3. ^ Congressional hearing, February 12, 1998
  4. ^ Cloning Human Beings, Report and Recommendations of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission, June 1997.
  5. ^ The Ethics Of Human Cloning
  6. ^ Homosexuality and Judaism, Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society, Volume XI - 1986.