PEPPER PIKE, Ohio (WJW)– A rabbi at a Pepper Pike synagogue was arrested after authorities say he had sexual conversations with who he thought was a teen boy.
Stephen Weiss, 60, was charged with attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, importuning and possession of criminal tools.
The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office said Weiss had explicit chats on social media with a law enforcement officer posing as a 15-year-old. He then went to a location to have sex and was met by officers with the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, prosecutors said.
Investigators said they found a box of condoms in his vehicle.
Weiss has led the B’nai Jeshurun Congregation, located on Fairmount Road, since April 2001. According to the synagogue’s website, his career was marked by his passion for working with Jewish youth.
According to Cuyahoga County Common Pleas court documents, he was released from jail on Tuesday on $50,000 bond.
In a press release from B’nai Jeshurun, the congregation confirmed Weiss had been suspended.
“We acted quickly to suspend Rabbi Weiss immediately as Senior Rabbi,” Rebekah Dorman, President of the Congregation’s Board of Trustees said. “He has been ordered to cease engaging in any congregational duties and been barred from the premises. We will have no other comment on this situation at this time.”
Rabbi Hal Rudin-Luria, its long-time Rabbi, will immediately assume all Senior Rabbi responsibilities, according to Dorman.
The synagogue has arranged for Jewish Family Service Association and Bellefaire JCB to provide confidential counseling for congregants and staff in-person and on Zoom.