Questions for Yeshiva

Editorial


Published January 02, 2013, issue of January 04, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

On December 13, the Forward published an explosive story by our Paul Berger detailing how Yeshiva University for years ignored students who claimed that they were sexually abused by two former staff members at Y.U.’s high school for boys in Manhattan. For that story, Berger spoke to four students who voluntarily offered their accounts. Since then, about 20 former students have called or written, and the number keeps growing.

Most of the allegations occurred in the 1970s and 1980s, and the statute of limitations prevents these men from suing the school, so they aren’t looking for money or other compensation. They are seeking answers, though. And so, independently, is the Forward.

Y.U.’s press office has issued several statements, including a sort-of apology and an offer of counseling to any former student who thinks he needs it. But Y.U. President Richard Joel has declined repeated requests for comment. Not so its chancellor and former president, Norman Lamm, but he left us even more confused, by acknowledging in an interview with the Forward that he knew of some of the allegations and let at least one of the alleged abusers leave quietly.

Why? Why was Rabbi George Finkelstein, a long-time teacher who rose to become principal, allowed to leave Y.U. in 1995 and become dean of a Jewish day school in Florida? Here was a man who has been accused by numerous students of inappropriate wrestling, kissing and simulated sex. And when the Jerusalem Great Synagogue said it hired Finkelstein in 2001 after being assured by Y.U. officials that the rumors of sexual abuse were false, who was responsible? Just because Finkelstein resigned his synagogue post after the initial Forward story was published does not erase the pressing need for answers.

More questions. Why was Rabbi Macy Gordon, a Talmud teacher, let go in 1985 even though a student said he and his parents lodged a complaint to Y.U. authorities in 1980 that Gordon sodomized him? Since we reported this disturbing allegation, another student has said he also was sodomized by the rabbi. Gordon, who denied the charges, was placed on indefinite leave from his teaching position in Israel. But that, too, does not obviate the need for answers.

Shortly after the Forward broke this story, Y.U. said it hired the law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell to “assist” its own investigation. Then the school said that Sullivan was “retained to conduct a full and independent investigation of the allegations.” Which is it? How can alleged victims trust that their words won’t be used against them? Trust is the first casualty when institutions are not forthcoming about their failings. Y.U. can begin to rebuild that trust only by providing answers.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.