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NEW YORK (JTA) -- Leading fervently religious rabbis in the United States called on the community to improve its reputation for integrity in the secular world.

Addressing a Nov. 23 convention that brought together thousands from the community, Rabbi Avrohom Pam and Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, both members of Agudath Israel of America's Council of Torah Sages, lamented the fact that recent years have seen a number of Orthodox individuals and institutions involved in illegal financial activity.

While stating that in many cases the media exaggerate cases in which Orthodox Jews are accused of wrongdoing, Perlow said observant Jews are no longer seen as "paragons of ethical virtue."

Was chazzan involved in ring of hookers?

NEW YORK (JTA) -- Members of the Jewish community are expressing shock and dismay about the arrest of a former cantor and his wife of a few weeks.

The two were charged in connection with a prostitution ring. Joel Gordon, 51, who has served at several Chicago-area synagogues, was charged Nov. 21 with keeping a house of prostitution, after police raided three massage parlors, which were operating out of private apartments in the suburbs.

His wife, Alison Ginsberg, 23, was charged with prostitution and keeping a house of prostitution.

Baltimore court bars construction of shul

NEW YORK (JTA) -- An Orthodox congregation in Baltimore was blocked by a local court from turning its residential property into a synagogue, according to the Baltimore Jewish Times.

Leaders of the congregation, Bais Haknesses, told the paper they will appeal the decision, which came in response to a lawsuit filed by 37 nearby residents -- many of them Jewish -- who expressed concern that the synagogue would create problems of privacy, traffic, parking, noise, litter and property devaluation.

And in another Maryland courtroom, an 8-month-old Baltimore Jewish assisted-living facility is being sued for more than $5 million. The family of an elderly blind woman who died after falling down a stairwell last March asserts that the Weinberg Park facility was negligent in leaving the woman without proper supervision.

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