Subway Icon Dr. Jonathan Zizmor Calls Accused Y.U. Abuse Rabbi 'Best Teacher'

Famed Acne Doc Endows Fellowship in Macy Gordon's Name

Underground Icon: Dr. Jonathan Zizmor’s ads are ubiquitous in the New York subway system. His role as a supporter of a rabbi accused in the Yeshiva U. abuse scandal is much less well-known.
flickr
Underground Icon: Dr. Jonathan Zizmor’s ads are ubiquitous in the New York subway system. His role as a supporter of a rabbi accused in the Yeshiva U. abuse scandal is much less well-known.

By Paul Berger

Published July 30, 2013, issue of August 02, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

To millions of New Yorkers, Jonathan Zizmor is the don of dermatology. But to some victims of sex abuse, Zizmor is the donor who established a scholarship in their alleged molester’s name.

Zizmor, who is renowned across New York City’s five boroughs for his campy subway advertisements promoting cosmetic procedures, gave $250,000 to Yeshiva University High School for Boys in 2002 to endow the Rabbi Macy Gordon Scholarship.

Gordon is one of two rabbis accused of molesting students at the Y.U.-run high school, according to a lawsuit filed July 8 in U.S. District Court. Nineteen former students accuse Y.U. administrators and staff of covering up physical and sexual abuse at the school.

Three of the former students say that Gordon, a Talmud teacher, abused them. One of those men, who says Gordon sodomized him with a toothbrush, “experiences extreme emotional distress whenever he sees” [Zizmor’s] name on the subway,” according to the suit.

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

“As long as the Macy Gordon scholarship, exists, it will be… a stain on Y.U.,” the man told the Forward in a December 2012 interview.

Zizmor, reached at his Manhattan office July 18, said that he did “not know anything about the story” of abuse at his alma mater.

Gordon “was, to me, the best teacher I have had,” Zizmor said. “I thought he was a great teacher, a great man.”

Zizmor added, “I wasn’t sexually abused, and I thought [Gordon] helped me a lot when I was in high school.”

Zizmor has been a longtime donor to Y.U. Before his 2002 gift, Zizmor donated to Y.U.’s Yeshiva College, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, according to a university newsletter, Y.U. Today. Zizmor also served for more than a decade on the board of directors of Yeshiva College, the newsletter said.

Zizmor, whose colorful ads have often been satirized, received his medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1969. He went on to residencies at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan and at New York University Hospital, in the same borough. He is the author of seven books on skincare.

In 2000, the New York Daily News reported that Zizmor had paid $100,000 to settle charges by state regulators that he had filed untruthful claims with insurance companies. And in 2004, Zizmor pleaded no contest to a $40,000 fine for negligence after failing to perform adequate histories and physical exams on nine patients.

Asked what would happen to the Macy Gordon Scholarship fund now, Zizmor said, “God only knows.”

Rabbi George Finkelstein, a longtime administrator at Y.U.’s high school, was also accused of abuse in the recent lawsuit. Until recently, Y.U. awarded a scholarship in Finkelstein’s name, too.

Finkelstein and Gordon denied the allegations against them when reached by the Forward in December. Y.U. has declined to comment on the lawsuit citing pending litigation.

Asked what has happened to the scholarships in Gordon’s and Finkelstein’s names, a spokesman for Y.U. said: “There are no active scholarships in either of those names at this time.” The spokesman, Mike Scagnoli, did not respond to a request to clarify whether the scholarships might one day become active again.

Contact Paul Berger at berger@forward.com


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!
  • Israelis are taking up the #IceBucketChallenge — with hummus.
  • In WWI, Jews fought for Britain. So why were they treated as outsiders?
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • 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:
  • 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.