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.

(page 4 of 7)

“He would lock his feet together and come in close [with his] legs touching each other and he was flat against me,” the former student said. “I never took it as he felt anything more than affection in a father-son type way,” he added.

The former student said he stayed at Finkelstein’s house many times. Then, one time when the two were alone, Finkelstein asked him to wrestle.

“His demeanor changed and he puts on this face like you would do with a kid if [you were] pretending to be angry,” the former student said. “[He] starts making a fist and says, ‘We’re going to come to blows.’”

“The whole thing ended with my getting pinned to the ground and he’s on top of me and I’m thinking, ‘I don’t know what the hell is going on,’” the former student said. “And he starts tickling me…and he got off [me] and that was the end of it.”

The man said that he felt uncomfortable enough that the next time Finkelstein asked to wrestle he refused. But he said that he remained friendly with Finkelstein.

A few years ago, he discovered a blog where former Y.U. High School students wrote of what they perceived to be the sexual undertones beneath Finkelstein’s wrestling. “It made me furious,” the man said. “I realized if he’s doing this to all these guys he’s either really naive or some kind of predator.”

He sent an email to Finkelstein last year asking him to explain his behavior. Finkelstein wrote back to say that he wanted to talk on the phone, but the man could not bring himself to speak to Finkelstein.

“I technically said yes [to the wrestling] which is why at the time I didn’t think anything about it,” the man said. “It’s only as I got older and thought of [the incident again] that I thought about it in a new light.”

In 2001, a former student from Y.U.’s high school, Simeon Weber, warned the Florida school that Finkelstein liked to wrestle with boys. He persuaded two prominent New York rabbis to corroborate to Hillel administrators his own story of wrestling with Finkelstein. Finkelstein left the school the same year.

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