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May 23, 2015 / 5 Sivan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Yeshiva University’

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.

Former UK Chief Rabbi’s Future: ‘Working With Students’

Saturday, October 26th, 2013

Last night Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks spoke at Eastern University, a Christian non-denominational school in suburban Philadelphia, to a packed audience of students which also included a large segment from a local modern Orthodox school, Kohelet Yeshiva High School.

The subject of the rabbi’s talk was: “Religion and the Common Good.”  It was presented by the Agora Institute for Civic Virtue and the Common Good, the Templeton Honors College at Eastern University, along with the Tikvah Program and the Beit Midrash program at Kohelet Yeshiva High School.

Rabbi Sacks forcefully delivered his take not only on religion and the common good, but his view that religion is for the common good.  He compared his views with that of philosophers such as John Rawls, who believed that there could be a language of public reason which all could share, “so long as religious conviction was left out.”  Sacks also mentioned the anti-religionists such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, both of whom view “religion not just as irrelevant, but also harmful.”

But for Sacks, once the public discussion begins to lose its mooring in religion, the strong sense of the common – as opposed to individual – good is lost.  The focus then becomes, eventually, “what is in it for me, instead of what is in it for the common good.”

It is in such a society, Sacks said, that Hobbes’s realization of life as being “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short” is inevitable.  For that is what becomes of a society based on a social contract, rather than on a societal covenant.

Rabbi Sacks explained that the first example of the social contract appears in First Samuel, when the people of Israel demanded a king. In the book, God told Samuel to explain to the people what kinds of liberties and rights they would have to give up in order to have a king, a centralized power, Sacks explained.  The people, to their later regret, demanded one anyway.

On the other hand, Rabbi Sacks explained that the first example of a social covenant is also found in the Hebrew Bible.  This was a pledge of mutual responsibility between the Jewish people and God.  A covenant, as opposed to a contract, is an exchange, a pledge to do together what neither can do alone.

Rabbi Sacks described the United States as a covenantal society, and pointed out that virtually every U.S. president renews that covenant during their inauguration.  A social contract creates what Rabbi Sacks called a “state,” in contrast to a true “society” which is created by a covenant.

“We the people,” are covenantal words, they are not ones expressed in a country such as England, or certainly any other monarchy.

Rabbi Sacks delighted the audience, delivering many “Jewish” jokes and Talmudic stories.

But the rabbi’s declaration that he hopes to be like the Lubbevitcher Rebbe: rather than have many followers, create many leaders, warmed the hearts of many.  This announcement came in response to the last questioner of the evening.

Harris Finkelstein, of Lower Merion, Pennsylvania, mentioned that he has read many of Rabbi Sacks’ more than 25 books, and that he looks forward to receiving the weekly email from Rabbi Sacks with his take on the weekly Torah portion.  But what, after having been chief rabbi of the United Kingdom for 22 years, “what could possibly be next?”

“I intend to spend the rest of my life with students, encouraging them to lead,” the rabbi said. “I want to support and encourage these students to do great things for others.”

RABBI SACKS TO BEGIN AFFILIATION WITH YESHIVA UNIVERSITY

His declaration last night was followed up by an announcement today that Rabbi Sacks has accepted a teaching position at Yeshiva University. The announcement was made to a small group of students, but YU said it will be releasing a statement next week in conjunction with the former chief rabbi’s office.

 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/former-uk-chief-rabbis-future-working-with-students/2013/10/26/

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