Only 200 Words About Abuse at Y.U.

Editorial


Published August 30, 2013, issue of September 06, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Here are the numbers you need to know regarding the Yeshiva University sex scandal. Nearly two dozen students first told the Forward that they were physicially and sexually abused by staff members at Y.U.’s high school for boys. Eventually, 34 of those students sued the school. The university spent a reported $2.5 million on an eight-month investigation by the respected law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, in which about 145 people were interviewed and 70,000 pertinent emails reviewed.

But in the end, the actual hard findings in the report released August 26, acknowledging abuse and cover-up in only vague terms, were contained in precisely 200 words.

Two hundred words are no match for the years of pain suffered by students at the hands of their rabbis. Two hundred words are no answer to the haunting question of why multiple people in authority at America’s flagship Orthodox educational institution repeatedly ignored pleas by the students they were entrusted to keep safe. Two hundred words hardly explains how these abusers were allowed to quietly leave the school and take jobs with other Jewish institutions in the United States and Israel without ever being held accountable.

The justification that Y.U. offers for its brief, public explanation of what went wrong for decades at various branches of the school is “pending litigation.” That is, the $380 million lawsuit brought by 34 former students who allege that university officials knowingly covered up the abuse, a suit that is now slowly winding its way through U.S. District Court.

Simply put, that is an unworthy and unsupportable excuse. As our Paul Berger notes, even the mighty Penn State University allowed a scathing detailed report of sexual abuse and cover-up to be publicly released while individual lawsuits were pending.

Y.U. President Richard Joel, who years ago presided over a far more forthcoming and honest investigation of a different instance of rabbinic sexual abuse, owes the university and its supporters more than 200 words. All the assurances he can offer, all the newly-revised reporting guidelines that make up the bulk of Sullivan & Cromwell’s report, do not obviate the need for a full, transparent accounting of how a pervasive culture of abuse was allowed to continue until the Forward exposed it through dogged, at times unpopular — and now entirely legitimated — reporting.

Rabbi Irwin Kula, a celebrated, nationally known religious leader, acknowledged publicly for the first time in the pages of the Forward that he, too, was a victim of abuse as a Y.U. student. His alma mater’s paltry disclosure and lack of accountability, he wrote, robs us of a “public conversation” about the difference between legal categories of civil liability and true healing and repentance.

That is a terrible lesson for this historic, important university to impart. But there it is. In 200 words.


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!
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • 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.