Yeshiva Alumni Angry Over Award for Jimmy Carter — Not Hershel Schachter

Stance on Israel Draws Heat, Not Sex Abuse Controversy

Former President Jimmy Carter has irked Yeshiva alumni with his criticism of Israel. But an honor for Rabbi Hershel Schachter, who used a racial slur to describe blacks, hasn’t drawn nearly the same controversy.
Former President Jimmy Carter has irked Yeshiva alumni with his criticism of Israel. But an honor for Rabbi Hershel Schachter, who used a racial slur to describe blacks, hasn’t drawn nearly the same controversy.

By Paul Berger

Published April 14, 2013, issue of April 19, 2013.
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So far, only one RIETS alum has publicly protested Y.U. honoring Schachter. In a letter posted online March 21, Barry Dolinger of Congregation Beth Sholom, in Providence, R.I., stated that Lamm’s and Schachter’s behavior, as well as Y.U.’s inaction, “have caused unbelievable chilul Hashem [desecration of God]…causing many of the faithful to give up or shun observance, Rabbis, God, and causing less observant Jews and non-Jews to view our people as backwards, self-serving, or inauthentic.” Because of this, Dolinger said, he would boycott the RIETS dinner.

In an interview, Dolinger told the Forward that he feared that negative stories emanating from Y.U. contributed to people becoming cynical about Modern Orthodoxy or leaving the movement altogether. “I don’t think that, with all due respect, the leadership understands that this is killing us,” he said. Dolinger added that dozens of people had contacted him to offer their support.

Still, no one posted a public comment underneath Dolinger’s letter. And the Forward is aware of no other rabbi who has complained publicly about the event.

Psychotherapist Stacey Klein found herself in a similar situation when she launched an online petition January 14, calling on Y.U. to commit to making public its forthcoming report into abuse allegations. Klein, a Y.U. alum, said that many people were too scared of appearing to “break with Y.U.” to sign the petition. Three months on, only 260 people have signed.

Gary Emmanuel did not have time to compose a petition against the April 10 presentation of Carter’s award. He only found out on April 3 — and confirmed a couple of days later — that Cardozo’s Journal of Conflict Resolution planned to honor Carter with its International Advocate for Peace Award.

Emmanuel, along with many other alumni, fumed when he heard that Carter, a harsh critic of Israeli policies on the occupied West Bank, was being honored at a Y.U.-affiliated institution.


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