Yeshiva U. Rabbi George Finkelstein Acted Inappropriately Even After Ouster

Wrestled With Boys in New Posts in Florida and Jerusalem


By Paul Berger

Published February 28, 2013, issue of March 08, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 7)

Asked why Y.U. honored Finkelstein despite forcing him out because of the wrestling, a Y.U. spokesman said: “As you are aware, everything is being independently investigated by outside counsel who will make their report when the investigation is fully finished.” The spokesman did not respond to a request for details about how the investigation is proceeding and when it might be complete.

Finkelstein took up his post at the Hillel school in Florida in 1995. Many former students and school officials in Florida, including staff and board members, remember Finkelstein as a positive influence. “We had no difficulties with Rabbi Finkelstein whatsoever,” said Martin Hoffman, president of the Hillel board when Finkelstein was hired.

Samuel Maya, 30, a former Hillel student, said Finkelstein was “an incredible person and one of the kindest men I have ever met in my entire life. I have a lot of friends that spent a lot of time with him and never once did I hear one complaint about him,” Maya added.

Another former student, Elie Yudewitz, said that he spent a lot of time at Finkelstein’s home in North Miami Beach and he never saw or heard of Finkelstein wrestling. However, Yudewitz said that rumors about Finkelstein wrestling with boys in New York began to trickle down from former Y.U. high school students to Florida during the late 1990s.

A former Hillel staff member, who requested anonymity, said: “The kids went to convention or camp and they met kids from Y.U. and they asked, ‘Did Finkelstein touch you already?’”

Yudewitz and Maya said Finkelstein often invited boys to stay over at his house during Shabbat. Such behavior was typical for a Jewish educator trying to persuade students to become more observant.

It was during one such sleepover that one former Hillel student said Finkelstein asked him to wrestle.

Even before then, the former student recalled, Finkelstein had taken a particular interest in him. Finkelstein often told the boy that he loved him and, when he called him into his school office, he hugged him “a little bit closer than a normal person might hug.”


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!
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • 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.