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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Yeshiva University’

YU Rabbinical Student Sentenced to 13 Years In Abuse Case

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

A Yeshiva University rabbinical student who pleaded guilty to child exploitation and possession of child pornography was sentenced on Tuesday to 13 years in federal prison.

Rabbis and a professor from Yeshiva University had written letters to the Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of the United States District Court in New York, requesting leniency in his sentencing, the YU student newspaper The Commentator reported Thursday.

Evan Zauder, 28, pleaded guilty in January to one count of enticement of a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity, one count of transportation, receipt, and distribution of child pornography, and one count of possession of child pornography.

Zauder also worked as a sixth-grade teacher at the Modern Orthodox school Yeshivat Noam in Paramus, N.J. He was arrested in May 2012 after the FBI raided his Manhattan apartment and discovered on his computer hundreds of images and videos of boys engaged in sex acts.

He also was charged with having relations in 2011 with a 14-year-old male he met on the Internet. The teen was not a student at Yeshivat Noam.

Zauder also served as a former youth director at Congregation Bnai Yeshurun in Teaneck and a former part-time youth director with Bnei Akiva youth groups, according to The Commentator.

The letters in support of leniency are dated from February 2013 through April 2013 and include letters from family members and friends from Yeshiva University, requesting the minimum sentence of 10 years.

Builders Of The Jewish People

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

This past Sunday, I joined thousands of celebrants in Yeshiva University’s Lamport Auditorium for a most joyous occasion, as a record 230 of our young rabbinical students received their ordination, from our Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary.

The atmosphere at this quadrennial Chag HaSemikhah event, attended by more than 3,000 people on our Wilf Campus, was simply electric; the potential energy latent in the collective capacity of these young men reverberated in the room, throughout our campus, and around our Jewish world.

The moment was not merely memorable – it served as a dramatic demonstration of Jewish vibrancy and Torah vitality in our day, a ceremonial call to arms for the incoming leadership of our people.

At the ceremony, I invoked the verse from Isaiah in which the prophet proclaims that “All your children shall be students of God and great shall be the shalom of your children.”

The Talmud in Tractate Berachot famously takes the word banayich, your children, and interprets it as bonayich, your builders, indicating that students of Torah build and preserve the Jewish people through their study.

Two meanings: children and builders. Ostensibly, we must choose our interpretation. And yet our rabbinic tradition instructs that we may never fully abandon the literal meaning of a text. And so it would seem it is our responsibility to fulfill both of these roles, as children and as builders.

The most basic interpretation of this dichotomy speaks to the magical duality that stands at the epicenter of Modern Orthodoxy, and defines our critical purpose in the world that will continue for generations to come: our responsibility to become inheritors – children, if you will – of a sacred textual tradition that informs a rich life of mitzvah, while partnering with God in advancing civilization.

Our rabbis bear the sacred responsibility of serving as both banayich and bonayich, children and builders of the Jewish people, here in North America, in our beloved state of Israel, and throughout the world.

As builders, they serve as the guardians of the halachic process in treading the line between Torah norms and modern sensibilities. We are blessed with a sacred legal system. It defines us. Jewish jurisprudence matters.

We are a law-driven people. Non-negotiables exist. The openness of modern society challenges our commitment to process and precedent – but that’s simply not who we are at our core. It is that commitment to the halachic process that enables us to embrace tomorrow. We are builders in that we build upon – we do not build anew.

And yet we are not simply bonayich, but banayich; and we must fulfill that role by preserving the delicate innocence and joy of childhood. We must overcome the too prevalent penchant for cynicism, and seek the beauty and wonder in all people and things; we must safeguard the innocent notions of shemiras halashon; we must comport ourselves with childlike gentleness and model the idea of love for our fellow man; we must have difficult and contentious yet vital conversations with a child’s goodness, patience, tolerance, honesty and compassion, as respectful and loving children, with humility, reaching beyond, looking to make new friends.

Banayich and bonayich. Two parts of the same person, two halves of a nuanced whole. Builders within a sacred system, children of understanding.

These young men – with the professional training they have acquired, the intellectual rigor they possess, and the skills of leadership, counseling and community building they have gleaned – stand to work with all Jews in shaping the community of tomorrow.

At the conclusion of the event, the assemblage poured out onto Amsterdam Avenue in an outburst of jubilant song and dance. The sight of it all caused my heart to be filled with hope for those young musmachim: hope that they will take on nuance, not run from it; hope that they will respect and revere the halachic system into which they enter, while responding to needs of our people with warmth, humility and understanding; hope that they will inspire all of us to build lives of meaning and of purpose, engaging with the wide world around us while informed by our sacred Torah. 

Yeshiva University May Run Out of Money in 2015

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Yeshiva University is at risk of running out of unrestricted cash in the near-term future, Moody’s Investors Service is warning.

Moody’s has downgraded  the university’s credit rating several times over the last three years, including a March 5 downgrade to B3 rating, indicating a high credit risk.

A new report released March 21 warns that deep and growing operating deficits are likely to continue due to “poor financial oversight and high expenses;” much of YU’s cash and investments are tied up in restricted funds the university cannot use for operating expenses; and banks may not extend credit to the troubled university.

“The negative outlook reflects the risk that Yeshiva will deplete its available unrestricted liquidity before management is able to execute a successful financial turnaround,” Moody’s new report says.

Only 14 percent of the $1.2 billion the university had on hand in 2013 is free from donor restriction and could be used for operating expenses, according to the report. Unless there is a change in operations, the report warned, the university will run out of money by the end of 2015.

YU was a victim of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, which cost it $1900 million, but its financial problems can be traced to roots a lot deeper.

The Moody’s report, which was first publicized by the Forward on Tuesday, calls YU’s business model “untenable.” Last year marked the sixth consecutive year of operating deficits, and YU’s operating margin excluding gifts dropped in 2013 to -42 percent. Seven years ago, the operating margin was at -6 percent.

“The severity and long duration of Yeshiva’s operating deficits are primarily due to weak financial management and the board’s unwillingness or inability to act,” the report says. “Historically ineffective internal controls and limited transparency contributed to an inability to identify and correct problems.”

The report faults the board for failing to hold leadership accountable. Through a spokesman, YU President Richard Joel declined to comment.

The university has taken several steps in recent months to improve the university’s finances. Last month, YU confirmed that it is selling 10 apartment buildings in the vicinity of its campus in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, which could net the school $250 million. The board also has approved exploration of a voluntary retirement program, the Moody’s report said.

“The university’s near-term financial viability depends on substantial and swift actions,” Moody’s said.

The report cites several reasons for high costs at the university: maintaining separate men and women’s campuses, upgrading equipment at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx and the university’s high-cost educational model. Meanwhile, tuition revenue has stagnated as YU’s competitors eat into the school’s core market for students.

Yeshiva U Threatens to Deny Ordination Over ‘Partnership Minyan’

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

The rabbinical school of Yeshiva University is withholding the ordination of a student who held a partnership minyan for his wife in their home.

Rabbi Menachem Penner, acting dean of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, or RIETS, sent a letter to the student ordering him not to participate in partnership minyans “nor create a public impression that he supports such activities in normative practice,” The New York Jewish Week reported Thursday.

The student, who is identified as Shalom in the letter dated Jan. 13, has chosen to remain anonymous.

The letter indicates that the student will not be a “musmach,” or graduate, of the seminary unless he is able to subscribe to the principles laid out therein, including to “defer, in matters of normative practice, to the opinions of recognized poskim,” or decisors of Jewish law.

In a partnership minyan, women lead many aspects of the Sabbath service and are called to the Torah but maintain Jewish law, such as a maintaining a separation between men and women but still allowing women to lead prayers or be called to the Torah aws well as read from it.

Most halachic sources prohibit the practice of partnership minyans, including Rabbi Hershel Schachter, a rosh yeshiva at RIETS.

The student told The Jewish Week that he is in discussions with seminary officials in an effort to resolve the standoff. The Chag HaSemikhah Convocation, during which the Yeshiva University rabbinical students receive their ordination, is set for March 23.

The student told the newspaper that he is unwelcome in his community’s Orthodox synagogue and has since held other services in his home.

Coach Jonathan Halpert Ends Long Yeshiva U. Career with Victory

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Jonathan Halpert, whose contract as the men’s basketball coach at Yeshiva University was not renewed, closed out more than four decades on the Maccabees’ bench with a victory.

Y.U. edged Maritime College, 60-57, before a nearly full house at the New York school’s Max Stern Athletic Center on Saturday night, according to the Yeshiva website, pushing its record for the season to 7-18. The gym’s basketball court bears Halpert’s signature.

Halpert finished his 42-year career at the Division III school with 416 victories. Addressing the crowd after the game, he thanked the fans for their support, the Y.U. website reported.

In an interview last week with The New York Jewish Week, Halpert said of Y.U. not renewing his contract, “It rips your heart out. To end this way makes no sense.”

Y.U. said in a statement earlier this month that Halpert “will conclude his service” following the season, The Jewish Week reported. The university has been criticized for its handling of Halpert’s departure.

“What happened here you’d expect at some faceless, large university, where people come and go,” David Kufeld, who played for Halpert from 1976 to 1980 and is the only Y.U. player ever drafted by the NBA, told The New York Times. “There could’ve been a better way to make a bridge to the next phase of coaching.”

Kufeld was among more than 300 signers of a letter to “Coach Johnny” in Yeshiva’s student newspaper, The Commentator, expressing their support for Halpert, who twice won Coach of the Year in the Skyline Conference.

From 1986-87 to 2001-02 season, the Maccabees under Halpert did not have a losing season, but they have not enjoyed a winning campaign since 2005-06. According to The New York Times, some alumni with ties to the board of trustees have wondered why Halpert, who is in his late 60s, could not duplicate the earlier success.

In a statement, Y.U. President Richard Joel lauded Halpert’s “caring commitment, as both mentor and coach, to his players and the YU community.” The statement added, “His legacy and lasting contribution to the university will be remembered each time our student athletes step onto the court that carries his name.”

JP Morgan to Pay $1.7 Billion to Madoff Fraud Victims

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

J.P. Morgan Chase will pay $1.7 billion to victims of the Bernard Madoff Ponzi fraud scheme, according to deal announced by the Justice Department’s prosecutors, who agreed to delay criminal charges against the bank.

The financial institution is charged with violating the Bank Secrecy Act, and charges will be delayed for two years pending the payments and changes in the bank’s policies to stop prevent money laundering, which is how Madoff got away with his fraud until finally getting caught.

Madoff is serving a sentence of 150 years in prison for raking billions of dollars from investor’s accounts. One of those hardest hit was yeshiva University.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the bank failed to send U.S. regulators a formal report on Madoff’s activities even though it had informed Britain in 2008 that Madoff’s returns on investments were “too good to be true.”

As Lieberman Retakes the Helm, Defeated Ayalon Takes YU Job

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Yeshiva University announced Monday that Israeli diplomat and political figure Danny Ayalon has been appointed the Rennert Visiting Professor of Foreign Policy Studies at Yeshiva University for the spring 2014 semester. Ambassador Ayalon will teach on both the Wilf Campus at Yeshiva College and the Israel Henry Beren Campus at Stern College for Women, and will participate in public lectures and events.

As you may recall, Danny Ayalon was the key prosecution witness in the case against former and just reinstated Foreign Minister and Israel Beiteinu strong man Avigdor Lieberman. It went like this: initially, when questioned about Lieberman’s getting personally involved in appointing Israel’s ambassador to Minsk Ze’ev Ben Aryeh, Ayalon had no recollection of such meddling.

Then came that fateful ride to the party gathering, when, in the car, boss Lieberman told underling Ayalon that he was out, off the list, nothing, nada, gone, no Knesset seat for you, mostly because the lanky deputy Foreign Minister was getting too big and famous, in a party where only one man gets to do that.

It was right after that fateful ride, when Ayalon saw his career evaporating like so much pollution from a BMW exhaust pipe, that a miracle of modern science occurred, and the formerly forgetful and uncertain deputy started remembering big time. Lieberman? You mean that Lieberman – oh, sure, he meddled. Meddled, meddled, meddled, the whole day long, especially about the ambassador to Minsk.

But a panel of three Magistrate judges saw right through that—yet another miracle, if you ask me—and found Lieberman not guilty as the driven snow on a Jerusalem frosty morning in February.

And so, absent much to do in the home country, Ayalon got a job teaching at YU, where America’s future diplomats usually don’t come from.

“Ambassador Ayalon will surely bring to his professorial role at Yeshiva the same commitment to the State of Israel, to integrity, to thoughtful discourse and careful analysis of the geopolitical world, that he brought so successfully to his assignments in the foreign service and foreign ministry,” said YU President Richard M. Joel.

Yes, let’s see, did Dean Joel include in the careful analysis thing that time when Ayalon fixed up a low chair for the Turkish ambassador to Israel, so that the latter be humiliated in his office like a school child? It probably wasn’t the only reason the Turks want us dead right now, but it soitenly didn’t help. So, if you’re attending one of the visiting professor’s classes this semester and the question of careful analysis comes up – ask about the chair.

And, naturally, ask about the sudden flash of memory about Minsk – should go nicely with the integrity, what the dean was saying. Because, for the right reason, Professor Ayalon will integrity the daylights out of anyone.

And ask, how can you not, about the little scandal back in 2005, at the Israeli embassy in Washington, when Danny’s wife Ann, a self proclaimed convert from an evangelical family, who’s been accused of still being pretty evangelical, was accused of using embassy money to hire help for their daughter’s bat-mitzvah. And the embassy’s social secretary was used to manage the guest list.

“I am honored to join the distinguished faculty of Yeshiva University, led by President Richard Joel,” Ayalon said to the guy writing the YU press release, probably via email. “This institution is exceptional in its support of the State of Israel and in spreading knowledge and education that have always made it a center of excellence. I look forward to a fruitful, insightful and stimulating dialogue with our students.”

Hey, if I could afford it, I’d be there every lecture with a heap of questions, on integrity and careful analysis. Are you kidding me? The man is a treasure trove.

Report: At Least 18 Jewish Groups Reported ‘Diverted’ Funds

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

At least 18 Jewish non-profit groups and non-profit groups that support Israeli institutions have notified tax authorities of likely illegal “diversions” of funds in the past five years.

The Washington Post on Sunday published its review of more than 1,000 non-profit organizations that have reported such anomalies since 2008, when the Internal Revenue Service began requiring the reporting of “diversions” of over $250,000 or 5 percent of a group’s gross receipts and assets.

Most such reporting is related to fraud, although a small number have to do with “financial restructurings, mergers and other types of financial losses” that are not illegal.

A JTA review of a handful of states with large Jewish populations turned up 18 Jewish non-profits and non-profits that support Israeli institutions recording diversions. The most widely-known losses were the widely-known fraudulent claims in the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany and the $95 million Yeshiva University’s loss from scams associated with Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff,

Other cases include the  American Friends of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art reported, which reported in 2009 that “certain works of art were stolen or destroyed by fire”; The Jewish Community Center of Dutchess County, N.Y., which reported in 2010 that its bookkeeper had embezzled funds; and the Advancing Women Professionals and The Jewish Community Inc., which reported that an independent contractor in 2010 and 2011 had diverted $62,000 in funds.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/report-at-least-18-jewish-groups-reported-diverted-funds/2013/10/29/

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