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NIH rabbi alleges discrimination

A chaplain at the National Institutes of Health alleges he was fired in part because he is Jewish.Rabbi Reeve Brenner, who was fired in February on what he says are trumped-up allegations that he misused his position and used offensive language, told the Washington Jewish Week that Ray Fitzgerald, a Methodist minister who serves as NIH’s spiritual chief, did not want Jews in the department. His claim is backed up by a colleague, Edar Roogler, an Eastern Orthodox lay chaplain, who tells the Jewish Week that Fitzgerald never referred to Brenner by name, but only as “that Jew, the Jew.” On one occasion, Roogler said, Fitzgerald told her to take an on-call shift because “he didn’t want the Jew to get the money.” Brenner alleges that Fitzgerald trashed Jewish prayer books. Brenner also alleges Fitzgerald was seeking payback because Brenner testified in an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission case on behalf of a Catholic chaplain who had been dismissed; the case was successful, and the chaplain was reinstated. Fitzgerald was not available for comment. An NIH spokesman told the Jewish Week that the organization does not tolerate religious discrimination but would not comment further due to litigation. “I want to be reinstated, and I want to see the people who inflicted hurt on so many resigning, from the top,” Brenner told the newspaper.