Rabbi accused of harassing military wife on Tacoma base resigns as second woman comes forward

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — A rabbi accused of sending sexually inappropriate text and voice messages to a woman living on a Tacoma-area military base is resigning his position.

“I write to notify you that I am resigning my position as Rabbi of Chabad of Pierce County effective Sunday, August 11, 2019,” Rabbi Zalman Heber said in a statement provided to the Tacoma News Tribune by his attorney.

It is not clear if he will continue as director of the organization.

Last summer, Traci Moran, whose husband Jared is a soldier at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington, alleged that Heber had been sending her sexually inappropriate text and voice messages for close to a month despite her objections. Heber “completely denies” Moran’s allegations of sexual harassment, his attorney told JTA last month.

Heber’s resignation comes after The News Tribune on Friday published a report about a second woman who had come forward. Chabad member Kim Shomer described to the newspaper a similar pattern of harassment and an attempt of unwanted physical contact. Shomer said she and her husband, who is not Jewish, first met Heber at their youngest son’s circumcision in 2007, and began weekly Kabbalah study sessions with Heber in March 2015.

Shomer, 50, and her husband, Spencer Freeman, 49, formally split from the Chabad Jewish center in December when they learned of Heber’s treatment of Moran. Shomer and Moran have met, and Shomer and her husband went to court hearings to support Moran.
The couple told the newspaper that they would not rule out legal action against Heber and Chabad.