Why Can't Yeshiva Alumni Follow Horace Mann Blueprint on Abuse Scandal?

Jewish World Should Demand More of Elite Institutions

courtesy of horace mann

By Beth Kissileff

Published May 06, 2013, issue of May 10, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

The Forward has called for an examination of the case. One of the Y.U. victims is Mordechai Twersky, an Israeli-based journalist at Haaretz. He believes that the lack of action has to do with the Y.U. alumni. Whereas the students who went to Horace Mann have taken on this issue as a cause, those who went to Y.U., Twersky said, are “impotent and frightened” and are “waiting for their kids and grandkids to get in,” so they don’t wish to come forward.

The Rev. Joseph Cumming, class of ’77, was one of Horace Mann music teacher Johannes Somary’s many victims and is one of the school’s survivors who is able to speak publicly about his abuse and its effect on him. He was one of the driving forces behind the HM survivors website.

Cumming, now a pastor of the international church at Yale University, said that the main thing most victims want is “validation,” and that when reports of sexual abuse are “invalidated by the institution, the community, the family,” the experience is “re-traumatizing.” He is personally “grateful for many of the things that the HM Action Coalition has done,” primarily because “they take the story seriously and they believe us.”

Cumming believes, having spoken with Twersky, that there should be an “independent investigation at Y.U.,” like the one being undertaken for Horace Mann. As a gentile, he thinks “one of the marvelous things about Judaism is the example Jews set of the importance of self-examination and self-criticism.”

He adds that no other religious tradition “preserves as sacred scripture books that denounce their own wrongdoing,” such as is found in the castigations of the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah. Cumming added, “You don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s rye bread and to believe that self-criticism is a virtue, not a vice.”

In his own prophetic voice, Cumming said, “Y.U. high school has clear moral standards to uphold. It should be a light to the gentiles, and I say that as a gentile.” He believes that “Y.U. should lead the way” and “should not have to be dragged kicking and screaming to do the morally right thing.”

Right now, even though I’m a religious Jew, I’d rather be affiliated with his church and with my high school alumni community than at any synagogue staffed by Y.U. administrators and those who refuse to take abuse allegations with the gravity that the survivors deserve.

Beth Kissileff is the editor of the forthcoming anthology “Reading Genesis”(Continuum Books, 2013).


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!
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • 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.