92Y Raises Eyebrows With Appointment of Non-Jewish Henry Timms as New Chief

Manhattan Arts Institution Seeks To Put Scandal Behind


By Uriel Heilman

Published May 06, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(JTA) — When the 92nd Street Y announced last week that it had hired a new executive director, Crain’s New York Business went with an eye-catching headline.

“It’s a goy! 92nd St. Y picks first non-Jewish chief.”

The announcement that Henry Timms would lead the famed Upper East Side cultural center represented the culmination of the Y’s effort to move past the scandal-tainted tenure of its previous director, Sol Adler, who was fired last July. Adler’s dismissal followed revelations that he had a long-term affair with his assistant, Catherine Marto, whose son-in-law was under investigation for allegedly taking part in a kickbacks scheme at the Y.

After Adler’s departure, Timms – at the time the Y’s deputy executive director for innovation, strategy and content – was named interim executive director.

But the move to make Timms’ position permanent is raising some eyebrows in Jewish philanthropic circles.

“Was I disappointed when I read the news? It’s fair to say that I was,” said Mark Charendoff, president of the Maimonides Fund and a former head of the Jewish Funders Network. “I don’t know the process they went through that led to this decision.”

Officials at the 92nd Street Y declined to be interviewed for this story or address questions on the subject by email. Phone calls to numerous Y board members also were not returned.

While it describes itself on its website as a “proudly Jewish organization,” the Y’s programming long has focused far more on the wider community than on Jewish culture. It serves primarily as a cultural center, hosting world-class artists, entertainers and public figures, along with some specifically Jewish programming. It also has many of the elements typical of JCCs and YMCAs: fitness programming, child care, a nursery school and activities for seniors.

The selection of a non-Jew to lead this major New York Jewish institution raises questions both about the character of the Y and about the larger issue of gentiles leading Jewish organizations.


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!
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • 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.