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Clergy Group Seeks Investigation After Rabbis Admit Having Affair

Associated Press

The San Diego Rabbinical Assn. is calling for an investigation into whether the rabbinical code of ethics has been violated at a local temple where two rabbis last week admitted to once having had an affair with each other.

Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal, president of the association of San Diego County’s Jewish clergy, said a request for an investigation would be forwarded to the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the national organization of Reform denomination rabbis.

That organization would decide whether to have its ethics committee review the matter.

The Jewish community was stunned last week when Rabbi Michael Sternfield, senior rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel, and Associate Rabbi Laurie Coskey admitted to having an affair.

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The affair began eight years ago and lasted a few months. Both were married to other people at the time.

Rumors of the affair began circulating after the synagogue board, at Sternfield’s urging, voted that Coskey would have to leave her job next year.

Some congregation members, outraged that the woman was being forced to leave when the man was allowed to stay, questioned the board’s decision.

The rabbinical code of ethics says that rabbis must avoid “even the appearance of sexual misconduct, whether by taking advantage of our position with those weaker than ourselves or dependent upon us or succumbing to the temptation of willing adults.”

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