When Will Y.U. Learn?

Editorial

facebook

Published October 10, 2013, issue of October 18, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

When will Yeshiva University ever learn? When will modern American Orthodoxy’s flagship institution learn to own up to its mistakes, genuinely reform its procedures, live out its values and, above all, provide a safe and honest environment for its students?

The latest revelation, that Y.U. hired a new faculty member who had been convicted of inappropriate sexual behavior with boys, starkly illustrates the gross mismanagement and hypocrisy of the university’s current administration. Here we have an institution reeling from allegations that for decades — decades — its leadership ignored the sexual abuse of students at the hands of at least two of its most prominent staff members. Here we see an institution that covered up the abuse, allowed the offending rabbis to take jobs working with children elsewhere in the Jewish community and, even after the Forward uncovered this sorry and painful story, refused to acknowledge its own complicity and grasp the opportunity to help with the healing process.

Instead, Y.U. spent $2.5 million on an investigative report that its own top officials then sought to largely suppress, emphasizing instead that it is reforming its policies and procedures to prevent abuse and deal with it forthrightly if and when it occurred.

Zero tolerance was promised.

Zero tolerance was not delivered.

As the Forward’s Paul Berger reports, Akiva Roth, who started this new school year as a Hebrew teacher at Yeshiva College, pleaded guilty in 1997 to four counts of lewdness against several boys in his work as a private bar mitzvah tutor. He was sentenced to ten years probation by a judge who railed against Roth’s arrogance and “lack of appreciation for the wrongfulness of his conduct.”

Roth, 42, has not been accused of misconduct at Y.U. But his employment by Yeshiva College was a reckless violation of basic management principles. “I teach my students that of all crimes, pedophilia has the highest rate of recidivism, over 90%,” Rabbi David Teutsch, who leads the Center for Jewish Ethics at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, told the Forward. “No way can you trust someone like that around kids.”

The fact that the events that led to Roth’s guilty plea happened some time ago is, experts say, irrelevant. It is impossible to know for certain whether another crime was committed in the intervening years, especially given the unusually high likelihood of repeat offenders.

Compassion dictates that Roth be allowed to move on with his life and be employed in any number of professions. But teaching should not be one of them. Especially teaching on a university campus in Manhattan’s Washington Heights where the college classrooms are as close as a block away from the high school buildings.


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!
  • "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:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • 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.