Student Claims of Abuse Not Reported by Yeshiva U.

Lamm Says He Let Alleged High School Abuser Leave Quietly

Accused: Yeshiva University High School for Boys, where George Finkelstein (left inset) and Macy Gordon (right inset) are alleged to have had inappropriate sexual contact with students, is located in Manhattan. Both men deny the charges. These images were taken from the 1970 Elchanite Yearbook.
Courtesy of Yeshiva University
Accused: Yeshiva University High School for Boys, where George Finkelstein (left inset) and Macy Gordon (right inset) are alleged to have had inappropriate sexual contact with students, is located in Manhattan. Both men deny the charges. These images were taken from the 1970 Elchanite Yearbook.

By Paul Berger

Published December 13, 2012, issue of December 21, 2012.
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“I would sleep over [at Finkelstein’s house], and he would say to his wife, ‘Fredda, Simmy and I, we’re going to knock heads.’ Then, he would lock the door and wrestle with me,” Weber said.

“You could tell what was going on in his pants,” Weber added. “It wasn’t just a wrestling match.”

After Weber left Y.U. High School, he heard that Finkelstein had been promoted to principal from assistant principal. So he took his allegations against Finkelstein to Lamm. But Weber said Lamm refused to act.

“Everybody knew [Finkelstein] wrestled with boys,” Weber added. “Nobody cared.”

High school staff members also knew of Finkelstein’s wrestling habit. Elan Adler, director of the school’s dormitory from 1981 to 1986, said at least a couple of boys told him that “Rabbi Finkelstein would wrestle them sometimes,” and that “he would sometimes be inappropriately aggressive.”

Asked to explain what “inappropriately aggressive” meant, Adler said, “They talked about his hands on private places, but they weren’t sure what to make of it; when you wrestle, hands go everywhere.”

Adler, who described Finkelstein as “a decent, caring and competent person,” said the boys’ comments about Finkelstein’s wrestling were made during routine discussions about what students had done that weekend, which were common in his role as director of the dormitory.

“I don’t recall… anyone complaining per se or asking for advice, or any parent calling and asking any questions or bring[ing] up the subject,” Adler said. “I didn’t report anything, as there was nothing compelling to report.”

Over the years, former Y.U. High School students have detailed what they say is Finkelstein’s inappropriate behavior on websites and blogs. Earlier this year, galvanized by the unraveling abuse and cover-up scandal at Penn State University, Mordechai Twersky, a journalist in Israel, published a call for Y.U. to come to terms with its past in Y.U.’s unofficial online student newspaper, The Beacon. Twersky recounted how an unnamed “associate principal” used to wrestle students “to the ground against their will and pin his stimulated body over theirs.”

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