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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In the university’s statement issued on December 3, Joel said that, if true, the abuse allegations represented “heinous and inexcusable acts.” The university advised anyone who needed counseling to contact yucounseling@yu.edu.

“The thought that such behavior may have occurred at our boys high school, or anywhere at this institution, at any time in its past is more than sufficient reason to express on behalf of the university my deepest, most profound regret,” Joel said.

Although Joel told the Forward on December 3 that he was looking into the abuse allegations, Lamm said on December 7 that no one from Y.U. had yet contacted him to ask about them.

Besides, Lamm said, during the period many of the assaults are alleged to have taken place, about 30 years ago, he was preoccupied by the university’s dire financial state. “The question of homosexual relations by teachers or principals… was not that clear, and it was not that significant relative to other things that we were dealing with” at the time, Lamm said.

“We were a sinking ship,” he added. “We were very close to going into bankruptcy, and these were matters that occupied a great deal of my time.”

Asked whether Y.U. made a mistake by not reporting abuses to the authorities, Lamm replied: “We are all human. Show me anyone who is a human being who has not made a mistake.”

But decades later, some former Y.U. High School students remain deeply hurt. Twersky called the lengthy Y.U. statement “empty words.”

“It is clearly disingenuous,” Twersky said. “It’s understandable from an institution that cannot afford to be sued right now and does not want this to blow up… but I also find it offensive.”

The man who said Gordon abused him called Y.U.’s statement “a bland, calculated, defensive response that does not acknowledge past wrongs.”

He also noted that Y.U. later established a scholarship in Gordon’s name.

“As long as the Macy Gordon scholarship exists it will be … a stain on Y.U.,” the man said.

Nathan Jeffay contributed reporting from Jerusalem

Contact Paul Berger at berger@forward.com or follow him on Twitter, @pdberger

Note, December 13: Although the journal The Beacon was affiliated with Y.U. when it launched last year it is no longer affiliated with that institution and its writers are now spread throughout the Modern Orthodox world.


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