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September 29, 2016 / 26 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘abuse’

300 Orthodox Rabbis Unite To Combat Child Sexual Abuse Epidemic

Monday, August 29th, 2016

In an unprecedented step, 300 Orthodox rabbis signed a proclamation regarding child safety in the Orthodox Jewish community. In it, the rabbis call upon synagogues and schools are called upon to adopt certain preventative measures outlined in the document in order to deter child abuse and child sexual abuse. The signatories invited to sign this proclamation consisted of member rabbis of the Orthodox Union (OU), Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) and Yeshiva University (YU).

Some of the proclamation’s prominent signers include: Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz, Av Beth Din, Beth Din of America; Rabbi Mark Dratch, Executive Vice President, RCA; Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO, OU Kosher; Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, Executive Vice President Emeritus, OU; Rabbi Zevulun Charlop, Dean Emeritus, RIETS, YU; Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, Rabbi, Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun and Principal at Ramaz School; and Rabbi Emanuel Feldman, Rabbi Emeritus, Congregation Beth Jacob of Atlanta. Rabbi Mark Dratch, who assisted in spearheading this initiative, applauded the “overwhelming support” of the signers and appeals to all communities “to implement the policies advocated in this statement.”

The proclamation commences by honoring the memories of the individuals in the Orthodox Jewish community who tragically have committed suicide as a result of enduring child sexual abuse. The gravity of this issue is linked in the proclamation to a passage in the Torah, “Do not stand by while your fellow’s blood is being spilled” (Leviticus). Prominent signer Rabbi Hershel Billet, Rabbi, Young Israel of Woodmere, succinctly expressed the gravity of the effects of child sexual abuse: “Every sexual abuser is a potential murderer. They destroy the souls of their victims and at times cause the death of their victims.”

The proclamation stresses, “We condemn attempts to ignore allegations of child sexual abuse. These efforts are harmful, contrary to Jewish law, and immoral. The reporting of reasonable suspicions of all forms of child abuse and neglect directly and promptly to the civil authorities is a requirement of Jewish law.” Exclusive to this proclamation is the clear assertion that, “there is no need for people acting responsibly to seek rabbinic approval prior to reporting.”

“Since abuse of children is a life threatening crime, we must report immediately,” Rabbi Billet said. “We must trust responsible civil authorities in a just country to be able to separate fact from fiction.” Claims that “snitching” to secular authorities about a Jewish sex offender is prohibited clearly has no basis in Jewish law. Michael Salamon, PhD, clinical psychologist and noted expert in this field, said, “The longer it takes to report the more time the abuser has to keep abusing and creating alibis. Only trained investigators with proper professional team support (e.g. police, medical, etc.) can investigate. Asking anyone else about reporting just delays or confounds or completely derails a proper investigation. That is why so many abusers have been able to move to different communities and continue to abuse.” Signer Rabbi Yosef Blau, Senior Mashgiach Ruchani, RIETS/YU, said, “Requiring a victim of sexual abuse to first gain approval from a rabbi or therapist before reporting the abuse to the authorities is damaging to the victim, whose credibility has been questioned, and hampers the investigation by possibly affecting the description of what occurred.

“Rabbis who have been consulted have often used concerns for the image of the community to discourage the victim and his or her family from speaking to the police.” Dr. Salamon said that “Therapists can lose their license if they attempt to investigate. Be aware that the overwhelming majority of reports – in the vicinity of 95%, or more – are accurate. It takes a lot for someone to finally come forward and tell someone that they have been abused.” The fear that without rabbis sifting through allegations there would be a high percentage of false allegations is similarly incorrect.

Jewish Press Staff

Australian Jewish College Director Suing over Claims She Pressured Abuse Victims Not to Complain

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

Nechama Bendet, a former general manager of Yeshivas Oholei Yosef Yitzchok Lubavitch, a.k.a. Yeshivah College, in Melbourne, Australia, is suing for libel a Facebook user who has accused her of pressuring child sex abuse victims not to complain to police, the Herald Sun reported Monday.

Bendet submitted a writ to the Supreme Court seeking damages for five Facebook posts by Bruce Cooke, whom she called a “vocal member of the Jewish community.” Cooke’s Facebook page is extensive, and much of it deals with the Lubavitch institutions in Melbourne and Sydney and the way they are being run (he is critical of the movement’s wholesale “McDonald’s approach” to opening new franchises, for instance).

Bendet, serving nowadays as the Yeshiva College’s director of development, is accusing Cooke of suggesting she attempted to ostracize two victims of the sex abuse scandal the school was mired in by calling them “moisrim” (snitches) because they had complained to police, in an attempt to discourage them from pursuing their complaints. In earlier centuries, a “moiser” would often be found with his throat slit near the river, so the accusation can be quite potent.

According to the Herald Sun, Bendet told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse that after a former Yeshivah guard had been charged with child sex abuse, her school never entertained a cover-up. Instead the school sought advice from Robert Richter, QC, a prominent Australian barrister, regarding public relations and dealing with the victims.

But, According to Bendet, Cooke’s Facebook posts have been accusing Her of knowing about the abuse and not reporting it, of trying to keep others from complaining, and even of engaging in criminal conduct in an attempt to bury the scandal. Bendet also complained that Cooke had accused her of intimidating staff at the Yeshivah as well as at Beth Rivkah Ladies College.

Bendet is also seeking a permanent injunction restraining Cook from repeating his accusations.

According to Cooke’s attorney, the Facebook maverick is relishing his day in court and is planning to defend the case.

Back on February 11, 2015, the Australian ABC network reported on Nechama Bendet’s testimony to the Royal Commission that day, admitting it was a mistake that Yeshivah College had never apologized directly to Manny Waks, a student who had been sexually abused by a guard:

Victim’s Attorney Melinda Richards: Do you acknowledge, Mrs Bendet, that Manny Waks did nothing wrong by going to the police…

Nechama Bendet: Absolutely.

Melinda Richards: …in 1996…

Nechama Bendet: Absolutely.

Melinda Richards: And again in 2011?

Nechama Bendet: Absolutely.

Melinda Richards: Do you acknowledge that he has done nothing wrong by speaking publicly about his abuse?

Nechama Bendet: Yes.

Melinda Richards: And you would agree that he has in fact done a great deal of good by speaking publically about his abuse?

Nechama Bendet: Yes.

Melinda Richards: Do you agree that his parents have done nothing wrong by supporting him in going to the police and speaking publicly about his abuse?

Nechama Bendet: Yes.

Melinda Richards: And his broader family have done nothing wrong and are not to be blamed by association?

Nechama Bendet: Yes.

Melinda Richards: Do you condemn ongoing harassment and intimidation of Mr Waks and his family?

Nechama Bendet: Yes.

ABC’s Samantha Donovan noted that “Manny Waks wiped tears from his eyes as Mrs Bendet spoke. Outside the hearing room he said her words were empowering.”

JNi.Media

Changing Course in Dealing with Sex Abuse

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website, Emes Ve-Emunah}

Something remarkable happened at the recent Torah U’Mesorah convention.

I have always had tremendous respect for my 12th grade Rebbe, Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, who now heads the Agudah Moetzes. I have never doubted Rabbi Perlow’s concern for every Jew – including those that have been victims of sex abuse.  Those that have accused him of not caring – have never met him. And they have drawn unfair conclusions about his motives and those of his colleagues. Which are completely false. While I have disagreed with some of their decisions in the past, I have never questioned their intent.

What Rabbi Perlow said at the recent convention is a sea change in how the Charedi world dealt with sex abuse in the past. From the Yated, here is part of it:

Torah Umesorah is preparing to train hundreds of principals, rabbeim and mechanchos across the country. This training will provide them with tools not only to prevent instances of child abuse and molestation from occurring within their schools, but also to recognize symptoms among students indicating that they may have been molested outside the school setting. (Statistics show that perpetrators are rarely strangers; generally, they are people the child knows and trusts.) The training program is slated to begin this fall.

In addition, a training program for thousands of summer-camp counselors is now being rolled out… The counselor training program, endorsed also by Dr. David Pelcowitz and Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, will make summer camp the special, cherished experience that it should be. As Rabbi Perlow stated at the convention, “We must ensure that predators are not able to disturb our children; we have no sympathy for the perpetrators.”

These and other initiatives will generate increased awareness of the problem and greater sensitivity to warning symptoms, and will likely result in more people contacting trusted community organizations that specialize in addressing child abuse and molestation. “We are deeply sympathetic to the victims,” Rabbi Perlow said at the convention. Gedolei Yisroel are making this issue the highest priority…

The days of looking away, pretending that these problems don’t exist, or pushing them to the side, are behind us; we have to take a strong, positive stance to protect and empower our children.” To assist victims of abuse and molestation, a group of concerned donors established a fund to subsidize trauma therapy. The fund, named ASAP, is currently assisting 250 victims, with new applications arriving daily.

With one out of every five children in our community likely to be victimized, this serious threat to our families has the potential to destroy generations. More initiatives are on the way, as the Torah community unites to combat this intolerable situation.

I am very happy to see this. I believe that this new attitude and the programs generated by it will make a difference.

There are certainly issues that are yet to be resolved. Like the idea of reporting abuse immediately to the police instead of going to rabbis first.  Rabbi Perlow touched on this subject. He clearly stated that if there is  Raglayim L’davar (legitimate suspicions of sex abuse) one should report it to the police. But he hedged on it indicating that it is rabbis that should be the ones to determine whether such evidence rises to the level of Reglayim L’Davar.

I still believe that going to rabbis first is at best an unnecessary step that will delay – if not deny justice to be served. But at least rabbis will now be better trained to determine what is and isn’t legitimate suspicion – if I understand this program correctly.

I am nevertheless still strongly opposed to having rabbis vet suspicions since there will be an inherent if unintentional bias that might favor an accused abuser. Especially if he is otherwise a respected upstanding member of the community. Which is often the case.  They fear that an unjust accusation will ruin the man’s life as well as that of his family. But that fear is outweighed by the statistical rarity that a child would accuse someone of sexually abusing him that didn’t actually do so.

The police have no such bias and should be trusted to do their job. That an innocent person might be falsely accused and suffer is indeed unfair. But statistically we have no choice but to err on the side of our children who will suffer even more if a delay will enable an abuser to continue his abusive behavior on more victims.

Another issue is about whether to extend the statue of limitations on lawsuits filed by victims against their abusers and enablers that Rabbi Perlow alluded to. There too I disagree with him. A survivor has a right to justice and time should not be a factor.

But to castigate an opposing view that seeks to protect institutions from lawsuits flied after the original faculty and administration has left and the new people having had no clue about any abuse that ever took place there – is unfair. I understand Rabbi Perlow’s fear. He worries about the entire educational system collapsing by lawsuits filed decades after the abuse happened. That is a fair concern. Even if we don’t agree with him, to attribute nefarious motives is just plain wrong.

I don’t believe that removing the statute of limitation will destroy Jewish education. Because where it has been implemented (I believe in California) the system was not hurt. Precedent tells me that we have little to fear in that department. Justice will be better served if victims are not denied the ability to sue because of time restraints

So we have a serious difference of opinion. But in no way do I attribute nefarious motives to the members of the Agudah Moetzes.

Bottom line here is that this is a huge – if belated – step in the right direction. It follows a declaration made not long ago by a different group of respected Charedi Rabbis who came out with an independent public statement about the obligation to report sex abuse directly to the police. When I encountered one of the signatories and complimented him on his courage in doing so he said, ‘We were living the dark ages’.  I think Rabbi Perlow may have said the same thing in his own way. Paraphrasing him slightly, we have come a long way from the days of sweeping sex abuse under the rug. That’s quite a mea culpa if you think about it.

In the video below he is strongly critical of bloggers that have accused him and his colleagues of not caring sex abuse or about survivors  and attributing all kinds of nefarious motives to them.  He calls them the Letzonei HaDor – the scoffers of our generation. I don’t know about that.

But he is right about how these bloggers have been treating them. Even if their motivation is sincere and just, it was wrong to castigate so severely good people whose motivations have always been to do what they perceived to be in the best interests of Klal Yisroel.

I am 100% convinced that the motivation of the Agudah Moetzes was always L’Shem Shamayim even as I sometimes strongly disagreed with them. And that their original approach to sex abuse was based on a view that did indeed belong in the dark ages. But I have never ridiculed them with extremely disparaging remarks. Those that do so are frankly quite disgusting in my eyes.  And I protest it.

 

At the same time I have to believe that they played  a positive role in bringing this issue to the attention of the Orthodox world and contributed to putting it in on the front burner. Had they not made such loud and constant noise about it, who knows where we would be.  For that we should thank them even while condemning – as I do – their way of doing it.

Harry Maryles

67 Deaths In Eight Months: Groups Battle Surge in Substance Abuse in Orthodox Community

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

Shocked by the number of untimely deaths of young people in the Jewish community, Rabbi Zvi Gluck, the director of Amudim, which deals in crisis intervention, decided several months ago to start keeping count of the number of deaths due to addiction, abuse and mental illness among young Orthodox Jews. When I first spoke to him two weeks ago, the figure was 65 fatalities since Rosh Hashana. Just one week later that number had jumped to 67.

Amudim reported the statistics as 21 suicides, 41 drug overdoses and 5 alcohol related deaths in member of the Orthodox Jewish community, ages 35 and under, in the tri-state area

When he first founded Amudim two years ago, there were those who berated Gluck for speaking out about the crises that were decimating our young people in droves; he was making a chilul Hashem by raising these issues in a public forum, they told him. Others simply didn’t believe him. Today Gluck finds that armed with hard numbers, his detractors are far less vocal.

A group of boys after a team-building activity run by Amudim.

A group of boys after a team-building activity run by Amudim.

“It is no longer possible to make believe that certain things that are killing our kids are not happening,” said Gluck. “Whether it is victims of sexual abuse, whether it is suffering from addiction, or it is mental illness, these are issues that we must confront.”

The fact that these issues exist within the Jewish community is, unfortunately, not new. What is novel is that faced with incontrovertible evidence of their existence, the Jewish community is finally starting to discuss these problems and trying to find ways to solve them, simply because they are so widespread.

“I don’t know any family that doesn’t know someone, either in their immediate family, their extended family or a neighbor, that has suffered from one of these things,” said Gluck.

The number of organizations addressing these crises within the Jewish community continues to grow. Far from duplicating each other’s efforts, these many agencies are addressing the full spectrum of the issues, from awareness to prevention, to referrals to treatment services to rehabilitation and beyond, all across the globe. A recent crowd-funding campaign spearheaded by the Brooklyn based Our Place brought 18 organizations together in a one day effort to raise money for those facing extreme difficulties. 4,203 people collectively raised $2,553,429 for various agencies including yeshivos, drop in centers, rehabilitation programs and summer camps.

Ruchama Clapman is the founder and executive director of MASK, which has been providing a wide array of services to those dealing with difficult issues for almost 20 years. In addition to running a “hope” line providing referrals to therapists, agencies, counselors and inpatient and outpatient rehab and mental health clinics, MASK has also run parent support groups and in-school programs. The goal for all of these efforts is the same: fostering emotional wellness in our children.

“The message that we have learned over the years is that parents need to realize that prevention is the key,” said Clapman. “Issues start early on and are compounded daily in pain, suffering and shame.”

MASK has case managed over 16,000 families and 24,000 in community programs since its inception and Clapman said that the issues often stem from trauma that may have occurred earlier on.

“A child who is bullied in sixth grade can experience pain so great that it can create issues later,” said Clapman. “You may not necessarily see it when they are younger, but peace of mind is difficult for trauma victims and they inevitably act up later to escape their pain.”

The importance of focusing on elementary school-aged children who have low self esteem, ADHD or learning disabilities or have experienced something traumatic, be it bullying or death of a loved one, cannot be overstated, according to Clapman.

“Common forms of acting out are the addictions, all of them, such as drugs and alcohol, internet addiction, pornography, criminal behavior, and relationships,” said Clapman “Over time many of these young adults are rejected, whether for behavioral reasons or for being academically underproductive and they are left to the street, which just reinforces these behaviors and exposes them to additional dangers.”

Parenting has become increasingly difficult, noted Clapman, and well-raised children from even prominent families can inadvertently be exposed to unprecedented threats, forever altering the course of their lives. In many cases, parents are often the last to find out that their children are facing serious problems.

“As parents, we do the best we can but times are changing,” said Clapman. “The message to everyone is that we are not immune. Nobody is immune in today’s society.”

Yitzchok Weinreb knows that lesson all too well. His son Gershon struggled for years to cope with the trauma of a difficult divorce and turned to drugs at a young age. He died last year of a drug overdose at the age of 26.

“We have to get the word out there,” said Weinreb. “We are losing them a lot and not just to drugs. We need to wake up and smell the coffee before it is someone in your own family and realize that this is a major problem among Jews.”

Having been molested as a child, Weinreb fully understands the difficulties that face anyone who has experienced trauma.

“I live with this day in and day out,” observed Weinreb. “This happened to me from age 11 to 15. I am 52 and I still go to bed every night and wake up every morning with it.”

Because of his own experiences, Weinreb finds that many abuse victims relate well to him, though he fully acknowledges that the road to recovery is long and bumpy.

“I tell people that I have gone through what they have gone through,” said Weinreb. “There is light at the end of the tunnel and they can get through it. It may be very hard, but suicide is not the way to solve anything. With help from the right people, even those who have experienced terrible trauma can still enjoy a full life.

Sandy Eller

Aussie Rabbi: Abuse, Family Violence is Top Priority

Monday, May 26th, 2014

A leading Australian rabbi has set family violence and sexual abuse as top priorities for the country’s top rabbinic organization.

“There’s nothing we shouldn’t be speaking about. Let’s talk about organ donation, let’s talk about child protection, let’s talk about reporting to the police, abortion, end-of-life issues,” Kluwgant told Melbourne’s The Age. 

Kluwgant assumes the reigns of Australia’s leading rabbinic association at a time when the community has been rocked by abuse scandals and cover-ups at the highest levels. At least one former employees of Chabad’s Yeshiva College boys school in Melbourne has been convicted on felony abuse charges and several more are currently on trial.

Manny Waks, a graduate of Yeshiva College and founder of the Tzedek victims rights organization, claims that he made senior Chabad officials aware of the abuse that he suffered as a student during the 1980s, but they refused to fire the alleged offenders. Since going public with accusations of abuse several years ago, Waks’ family – a prominent Chabad family in Melbourne – have been ostracised from the community.  His parents recently announced they would move out of the community, and Zephania Waks recently suffered a heart attack.

Rabbi Kluwgant, the father of five sons, has served as a chaplain with Victoria Police, as well as chaplain to JewishCare, a care facility for senior citizens. He told The Age he would take a clear, unambiguous stand on behalf of abuse victims in the community.

“We have to unequivocally tell people – with a united voice, without any dissent – if you are a victim of child abuse, take it to the police. If you are a perpetrator, we hope you get caught and do your time, because that is unacceptable,” he said.

Jewish Press News Briefs

IsraAID Combats Gender-Based Violence in South Sudan

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Israel, as a liberal democratic country dedicated to human rights and women’s rights, seeks to help South Sudan address gender-based violence, a significant problem in that country.

Helen Animashaun, a volunteer working with the South Sudan Women Empowerment Center, wrote in the Huffington Post, “The reality of life for women in the world’s newest country is harsh; it is full of challenges and limited opportunities.” She reports that “[a]ccess to healthcare and education in South Sudan is simply not an option in many places. The statistics speak for themselves: more than 80% of women are illiterate and one in seven women die as a result of pregnancy and childbirth.” Nevertheless, Animashaun wrote that “the greatest challenge women experience is the social acceptance of sexual and gender based violence.”

According to Human Rights Watch, about 48 percent of young girls in South Sudan between the ages of 15 and 19 are forced into marriages by their families, who are often given generous gifts as dowries in return. If a girl dares to resist, they can face violent actions from their families. In fact, some South Sudanese girls are even murdered or raped for attempting to resist such arranged teenage marriages. In one particularly brutal case, a 17-year-old girl was raped and beaten to death in South Sudan for not submissively accepting her family’s decision to marry her off to a 75-year-old man.

According to Ophelie Namiech, IsraAID’s country director in South Sudan,

After more than 40 years of conflict, displacement and poverty, the people of South Sudan are facing enormous social challenges!…Violence against women is pervasive and has been exacerbated by decades of war that have left many children without a proper family structure, education or health care… A large portion of the population suffers from deep trauma that prevents them from being fully included in the development process.

Namiech claims that Juba, South Sudan’s capital city, has not been spared these challenges facing all of South Sudan. “On the contrary, rapes, human trafficking, and under-aged prostitution have all dramatically increased due to rapid and uncontrolled urbanization,” she claims.

Namiech emphasized that “In particular the children in some slum areas are exposed to appalling and sustained sexual abuse. Sexual pressure is very strong in Juba – especially in the most vulnerable areas of the capital where young girls quickly fall into the cycle of sexual violence and exploitation.”

It is not uncommon to see girls as young as eight years old in Juba raped, Namiech says. “In those areas, those girls are condemned to spend their lives in the street, looking for food in the garbage behind market places and being surrounded by violent drunk and drugged men who abused and mistreat them.”

IsraAID, as an Israeli humanitarian organization seeking to improve the status of women within developing countries in addition to providing pivotal emergency relief assistance, has a program to combat gender-based violence in South Sudan that works with local services such as the State Ministry of Gender and Social Development, the South Sudan Police Service as well as several local community-based organizations to help them better address violence against women in South Sudan. IsraAID trains, mentors, and accompanies these South Sudanese actors so that one day they will better be able to address cases of violence against women on their own.

In 2012 alone, IsraAID trained 172 service providers on gender-based violence, as well as how to design and implement gender-based violence related programs. Nevertheless, despite IsraAID’s best efforts, Namiech claimed, “When we monitor the situation in the slum areas with our local partner Confident Children Out of Conflict [the only local NGO that has a shelter for 35 vulnerable girls] we often find very young girls wandering the slum areas alone without any clothes on, who rapidly become surrounded by abusive men.” Namiech has attempted to help such young girls, yet unfortunately there are many of them. “I have seen those scenes myself. They are heartbroken,” she asserts.

Nevertheless, despite the violent plight endured by way too many women living in South Sudan, IsraAID has been able to make a difference there. According to Namiech, “A few weeks ago, the police and social workers that IsraAID has been training since 2012, have encouraged reporting and succeeded in bringing before court the case of a 14-year old girl victim of rape. This is, in itself, a small successful first step.” In addition, IsraAID has sponsored advocacy sessions on gender based violence within South Sudan involving legal, social and security services as well as members of the South Sudanese community.

IsraAID has also supported awareness sessions on gender-based violence in schools and raising public awareness about this issue in the local media as well as training sessions and workshops designed to increase cooperation between social workers and the police in order to work towards increasing reportage of cases of gender based violence. In February 2013, more cases in fact were brought to courts than previously, although there still is much work to be done on this issue. Yet, what IsraAID is doing by training local South Sudanese on gender-based violence is a step in the right direction towards improving the plight of all South Sudanese women.

Visit United with Israel.

Rachel Avraham

YU Must Do the Right Thing

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

After thinking long and hard about the sex abuse scandal at Yeshiva University’s high school, I have come to the conclusion that more needs to be done.

A lot of mistakes were made that resulted in many young students being subjected to sex abuse. This is certainly not a happy episode for Y.U. A lot of people share culpability for the overlooking or ignoring what allegedly happened during the employ by Y.U. of Macy Gordon and George Finkelstein.

Some of the people who need to answer for their mistakes are people I respect. Some are icons. I am not going to go into specifics of why I so admire and respect those people. Those who read this blog regularly will for instance know how much Dr. Lamm has influenced my own Hashkafos. I still honor him for that. I don’t think I would be who I am today without reading some of his works.
To the best of my understanding, his level of culpability is allegedly as follows. As president of Yeshiva University he was allegedly informed of abuse by the above two individuals. Instead of reporting them to the police and firing them immediately, he allegedly let them go quietly… and did not feel the need to inform other communities about them.

If I recall correctly – his explanation for this was that he did not want to hurt them professionally since he had no hard evidence for their abusive behavior. He also felt that it was the obligation of those who in the future would employ them to check them out… and not his obligation to warn them. That was pretty much the thinking in those days – wrong though it was.

We all know by now that predators when “kicked out” from one community will set up shop in another. It is also true that the victims of Macy and Finkelstein were not properly dealt with. If I am not mistaken they were basically told to just keep quiet, get over it, and get on with their lives.

We also now know that it doesn’t work like that. There are lifelong residual effects suffered by sex abuse victims that stay with them for the rest of their lives. Some handle it better than others. But it is no secret that in many cases abuse victims suffer lifelong depression if untreated – leading to suicides in some cases. There is ample evidence of that.

I do not think Dr. Lamm is a bad person. Quite the contrary. But I do think he made a mistake and should say so publicly.

One can say with a certain amount of legitimacy that as president of a university that was in such financial trouble when he took over that his time was consumed with turning things around. He set about to literally save the school. Which he did. With such a heavy responsibility he could have well just seen the ‘goings on’ at the affiliated high school that he was not directly involved with was an intrusion into his primary function as the head of the university – charged with literally saving it from closing down.

This of course is no excuse. But it is a fact and should in my view be taken into consideration. It is equally true that his busy schedule did not diminish his responsibility to the individual student. It did not diminish the pain suffered by students who were victims. It should not have been a back burner issue.

It is now my view that Y.U. needs to do the right thing and come clean. They need to admit that mistakes were made by leaders both past and present. What happened ought to be fully investigated and all results made public. To the extent that mistakes were made, they ought to be fully recognized and apologized for.

I also agree with Stacy Klein who said in a Forward article that Y.U. should indeed set up a fund for victims in order to help pay for any therapy needed by the victims of Gordon and Finkelstein.

However, I do not agree that at age 85, Dr. Lamm should be fired from his position – as she suggests. His intent was not malicious. Just mistaken. And his contributions to Judaism are immense. I think a sincere apology admitting his mistakes – along with that therapy fund – would go a long way towards helping to heal the victims. I do not see anyone gaining from his being fired.

After discovery of all the facts Y.U. needs to not only make them public and officially apologize – it needs to take concrete steps to make sure it never happens again. And to try and make things right for the victims via funding their path to healing.

I hope that victims of Macy and Gordon will agree with this approach.

Once Y.U. does all this it can get on with its holy mission of teaching Torah U’Mada to future generations of Jews. Y.U. has a great legacy. But it is not perfect. Once it does the right thing here – their reputation can be restored and their legacy will continue well into the future.

Unlike the typical yeshiva – there is only one Yeshiva University. Mistakes were made. But it ought not lead to its downfall. Mistakes can be corrected. That’s what needs to happen here.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Harry Maryles

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