Yeshiva Rabbi Hershel Schachter Stirs Hornet's Nest With Remarks — Again

'Shvartze' Cleric Spoke of Killing Israeli Premier, Compared Women to Monkeys

Not First Time: Rabbi Hershel Schachter is universally recognized as a Talmud scholar. When he speaks about more worldly matters, he has a history of making offensive remarks.
yeshiva university
Not First Time: Rabbi Hershel Schachter is universally recognized as a Talmud scholar. When he speaks about more worldly matters, he has a history of making offensive remarks.

By Paul Berger

Published March 21, 2013, issue of March 29, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

One of Yeshiva University’s leading rabbinic scholars is in trouble — again — after using a derogatory term to refer to African Americans and questioning whether child sex abuse allegations should be brought directly to police.

Rabbi Hershel Schachter, regarded as one of America’s most influential Modern Orthodox rabbis, previously provoked ire for appearing to equate women with monkeys and for seeming to condone the killing of Israel’s prime minister.

This time, Schachter is in trouble for telling an audience of British rabbis that American state prisons are dangerous for Jews because they could be locked up “with a shvartze, in a cell with a Muslim, a black Muslim who wants to kill all the Jews.”

Schachter also suggested that Jewish communities set up panels of Torah scholars who are trained in psychology; this way, before children’s allegations of sex abuse claims are reported to the police, the panel can determine whether the allegations are legitimate. “It could be that the whole thing is a bubbe-mayse [tall tale],” Schachter said.

Click to see the rest of the section, Click for more stories about abuse at Y.U.

He also claimed that New York hospitals are covering up cases of ultra-Orthodox mohels transmitting herpes to infants during circumcision because the hospitals fear they will lose Haredi patients.

A recording of segments of the talk, which was delivered in London in February, was posted on FailedMessiah.com March 15 and independently verified by the Forward.

Schachter, one of the most respected faculty members of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, is called upon regularly to lecture and advise America’s leading Orthodox organizations, such as the Rabbinical Council of America and the Orthodox Union.

“Hundreds of rabbis hang on [Schachter’s] every word and interpret his every utterance as binding Jewish law,” said Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, spiritual leader of Washington’s Ohev Sholom National Synagogue, a Modern Orthodox congregation. “Because of that, he has a tremendous responsibility to speak carefully.”


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!
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • 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.