Jewish Independent (10/21/05) Seeks To Silence
Gossip About Conservative Cantor Steven Joel Levin
Steven Joel Levin, 43, Levin lost his job at Vancouver's
Beth Israel synagogue due to an adulterous affair. The aftermath split
the congregation and many families left the shul.
Here's a 3/6/06 letter
to me from Steve Levin's attorney.
Levin, his girl and her husband (they have not yet divorced) all live
in the Vancouver area.
Levin's ex-wife got complete custody of their child.
Levin is currently employed by Burquest Jewish Community and the Jewish
Community Center (JCC) of White Rock, British Columbia. He is a cantor
in good standing in the Cantor's Assembly of North America. They have
been aware of the allegations for over a year.
The Jewish Survivors blog weighs in here
an excerpt of the letter that stirred the Jewish Independent into such
paroxysms of righteous indignation about gossip.
Cantor's Assembly responded to the Awareness Center.
Steven Levin's attorney David Wotherspoon writes me (before I further
edited down this profile):
Mr. Ford, We appreciate your prompt response to our letter dated March
6, 2006, regarding the defamatory material posted on your website. You
invited us to send you further corrections of any inaccurate information
remaining on the website. We have set out the further concerns below.
We do have the overriding concern about why you are doing this to Mr.
Levin based on the new information provided to you.
First, we recognize that you have revised the excerpt of the defamatory
email to omit the references to child sexual abuse and professional
sexual misconduct. You have also eliminated the statement about the
risk Mr. Levin may pose to the congregants' children at his current
places of employment. However, the excerpt still concludes by suggesting
that Mr. Levin may "manipulate" another child or adult into having sexual
relations with him. We have already informed you that the child sexual
abuse allegations made against Mr. Levin were false. With regard to
the manipulation of an adult, this seems to refer to the "adulterous"
affair in which Mr. Levin is involved. In fact, this relationship is
between two consenting adults who are committed to one another and trying
to achieve some happiness in their lives. At the time the relationship
began, Mr. Levin's girlfriend was separated from her husband and he
had moved out of their home. Mr. Levin's girlfriend is currently in
the midst of divorce proceedings that have been ongoing for almost two
Second, this excerpt contains allegations that Mr. Levin does not have
professional training as a cantor. In fact, Mr. Levin trained for several
years with a cantor in Los Angeles, California. He also attended the
Bachelor of Music program at the California State University, although
he did not complete a degree. In 1998, upon completion of an oral and
written exam, Mr. Levin was approved for membership in the Cantors Assembly.
On February 12, 2002, he received his commission as hazzan minister.
Mr. Levin is qualified and certified for his profession of cantor. The
excerpt also alleges that Mr. Levin was fired from Beth Israel synagogue
for misrepresenting himself as a college graduate. Although Mr. Levin's
position was terminated, which caused great turmoil in the congregation,
his educational credentials were not the basis for his termination.
The posting of such false and misleading information defames Mr. Levin.
Third, you have maintained the links to the Jewish Survivors blog,
stating that they "took on Mr. Levin (not by name)". These websites
contain references to sexual abuse and misconduct, and therefore imply
that Mr. Levin has participated in such activities. This is wholly false
and defamatory. We ask you to take down your profile of Mr. Levin altogether...
In addition, the use of your name in combination with Mr. Levin's name
in the Google search engine brings up not only your profile of him,
but also links to the Jewish Survivor blog which contain additional
false and defamatory information. As we mentioned in our letter, Mr.
Levin has been subject to anonymous defamatory attacks on-line in the
past. It would be very helpful if you could provide us with the sources
of your information so that we may prevent any further incidents of
malicious gossip and defamation about Mr. Levin.
Finally, we ask you to consider the devastation Mr. Levin has experienced
due to the termination of his employment with Beth Israel, followed
by the vicious defamatory attacks regarding his personal and professional
integrity. Our client has suffered enough and he will never be able
to fully restore his reputation in the Jewish community. We cannot understand
why you would target him on your website and would appreciate any explanation
you could provide as to your motivation for profiling Mr. Levin.
Dear sir, Here is the essence of my interest in the story. Is your client
a predator or not? Now "predator" could be applied to me and
a good deal of men who aggressively chase women and have consensual relations
with such adult women. Has your client hit on women in his congregation
before? Does he have a history of this?
He's a cantor, a religious leader, has he been hitting on women in his
I can not and will not reveal my sources.
I have some sympathy for your client, but he got himself into this mess
with his relationship. Hey, we've all been a fool for love. I have been.
Now I must try to sleep...