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!
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • 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.