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October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Yeshiva University’

Former Yeshiva University Students file $380 Million Lawsuit

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Former Yeshiva University students have filed a $380 million lawsuit against the institution, alleging that the university covered up allegations of sexual misconduct by staff members.

The lawsuit, which was filed Monday in White Plains, N.Y., alleges a “massive cover-up of the sexual abuse of [high school] students … facilitated, for several decades, by various prominent Y.U. and [high school] administrators, trustees, directors, and other faculty members,” the Forward reported.

The newspaper first published details of the claims against two former Yeshiva University staff members late last year. Rabbis George Finkelstein and Macy Gordon were accused of inappropriate contact with several students at the Yeshiva University High School for Boys in Manhattan.

Finkelstein left the high school in 1995 and took a post at a Jewish school in Florida before moving to Israel. Gordon also lives in Israel and until recently was a teacher at the Orthodox Union’s Israel Center. Both men deny the charges.

The lawsuit, filed by 19 former students, names Rabbi Norman Lamm, the university’s former president and chancellor who stepped down last week, and Rabbi Robert Hirt, a former vice president of Y.U.’s rabbinical seminary. Only two of the alleged victims — Mordechai Twersky, who lives in Israel, and Barry Singer of New York — are named. The rest are listed anonymously.

The complainants’ attorney, Kevin Mulhearn, claims that university administrators are guilty of fraud for portraying Gordon and Finkelstein as men of good character despite the many warnings they had sexually abused young boys.

Alvin Schiff, Jewish Education Pioneer, Dies

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Alvin Schiff, a pioneer in Jewish education and a prolific author, died of unknown causes, Yeshiva University announced Monday. He was in his mid-80s.

He established and directed the Graduate School of Jewish Education at YU in 1959, before it was later renamed the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration.

Schiff authored more than a dozen books, as well as several hundred articles and research papers on the status of Jewish education.

He was a founder of such Jewish education projects as March of the Living, along with the New York parade for Israel now known as Celebrate Israel.

Herbert Dobrinsky, vice president of Yeshiva University affairs and a former student of Schiff, told JTA, ”I can’t say he was the greatest educator in the world, but he came close to it.”

Schiff received his bachelor’s degree from Yeshiva College and his doctorate from YU’s Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, as well as an honorary degree from YU in 1977.

The True Character of Great Leaders

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

If anyone ever had any doubt about the character of this great man, this should completely erase any trace of it. Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm has resigned his post as Chancelor and Rosh HaYeshiva of Yeshiva University in one of the most poignant resignation statements I have ever read.

What was exceptional about this is his admission that – although he thought he had acted correctly at the time – he now realizes that he had made some grave mistakes in handling accusations of sex abuse by a teacher and principal in Yeshiva University’s high school, MTA.  The following is the pertinent part of his statement:

I recognize now that when we make decisions we risk, however inadvertently, the tragedy of receiving that calamitous report: tarof toraf Yosef, “Joseph is devoured,” all our work is in vain, all we have put into our children has the risk of being undone because of a few well intentioned, but incorrect moves. And when that happens—one must do teshuvah. So, I too must do teshuvah.

True character requires of me the courage to admit that, despite my best intentions then, I now recognize that I was wrong. I am not perfect; none of us is perfect. Each of us has failed, in one way or another, in greater or lesser measure, to live by the highest standards and ideals of our tradition — ethically, morally, halakhically. We must never be so committed to justifying our past that we thereby threaten to destroy our future. It is not an easy task. On the contrary, it is one of the greatest trials of all, for it means sacrificing our very egos, our reputations, even our identities. But we can and must do it. I must do it, and having done so, contribute to the creation of a future that is safer for innocents, and more ethically and halakhically correct.

This is the kind of leadership that is needed in Klal Yisroel… the ability to recognize error, to realize just how serious and possibly even damaging that error is, and to learn from it. How different is this response to the way Satmar, and Lakewood have reacted to their own errors on this same matter. In Satmar’s case convicted sex abusers are nonetheless glorified as innocent people that evil people with nefarious motives lied about and put in jail. In Lakewood’s case the prominent Rabbonim, Poskim and Dayanim signed a vicious attack against one of their own Talmidei Chachamim because he did what he was supposed to do by reporting a sex abuser to the police. As Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn points out:

(T)hese expert rabbis apparently also didn’t bothering checking out the fact that the father had in fact received a letter from Rav Sternbuch telling him that he was required to report the abuse.

They were apparently ignorant of the elementary fact that even without receiving a psak from Rav Sternbuch and other gedolim the father not only had the right to report a child abuser but was obligated according to the views of the gedolei hador including Rav Eliashiv, Rav Wosner, the Tzitz Eliezer and Rav Moshe Halberstam.  Their ignorance of the halachos dealing with child abuse – as clearly described in Yeshurun volume 15 -  is truly shameful and embarrassing.

Dr. Lamm is a Gibor… a mighty man who has the courage to do what lesser men cannot or will not do. It does not matter how much Torah they know, or how brilliant their erudition of it is to their students. It doesn’t even matter how many Seforim they have published. The matter at hand is their character. They have willfully destroyed another man’s character using their Torah knowledge as a spear to skewer him.

The man they skewered had the courage to do what’s right. It superseded his own sense of self preservation. A man whose character runs circles around those who are supposed to be Torah leaders and are probably still seen that way by most of their constituents in Lakewood and Satmar.

Those men could learn a thing or two from one of their own, R’ Dovid Epstein, who upon realizing the truth – made a public and heartfelt apology, begging for forgiveness for his part in hurting an innocent human being.

Norman Lamm Quits Yeshiva University

Monday, July 1st, 2013

In a letter announcing he is stepping down as Yeshiva University’s chancellor and rosh yeshiva, Rabbi Norman Lamm acknowledged his failure to respond adequately to allegations of sexual abuse against the university’s rabbis in the 1980s.

Lamm, now 85, became the school’s third president and head of its rabbinic school, the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, in 1976. He stepped down as president in 2003, becoming chancellor, but stayed on as RIETS’s head.

His resignation Monday from his two posts at the school were attributed to an agreement reached three years ago and come several months after a report in the Forward newspaper that detailed allegations of abuse dating back to the 1970s and ‘80s against two rabbis at Y.U.’s high school for boys, principal George Finkelstein and Talmud teacher Macy Gordon.

“Rabbi Lamm’s decision to retire is based on an agreement that was reached three years ago,” the university said in a statement. “His contract expired June 30.”

Last December, Lamm acknowledged to the Forward that he knew about some of the allegations but chose to deal with them privately; law enforcement authorities were never informed.

“My question was not whether to report to police but to ask the person to leave the job,” Lamm said.

On Monday, Lamm issued a mea culpa for failing to pursue the allegations.

“At the time that inappropriate actions by individuals at Yeshiva were brought to my attention, I acted in a way that I thought was correct, but which now seems ill-conceived,” Lamm wrote in a letter emailed to faculty, students and alumni in which he discussed his retirement. “And when that happens — one must do tshuvah. So, I too must do tshuvah [repentance].

“We must never be so committed to justifying our past that we thereby threaten to destroy our future. It is not an easy task. On the contrary, it is one of the greatest trials of all, for it means sacrificing our very egos, our reputations, even our identities,” he wrote. “But we can and must do it. I must do it, and having done so, contribute to the creation of a future that is safer for innocents, and more ethically and halakhically correct.

“True character requires of me the courage to admit that, despite my best intentions then, I now recognize that I was wrong,” Lamm wrote. “This is what I am modeh [acknowledge] as I reflect on my tenure.”

Finkelstein was forced out of the school in 1995 after being accused of inappropriate contact with students by wrestling with them. He then went to work as a dean at the Hillel Community Day School in North Miami Beach, Fla.

Gordon was placed on a leave of absence in 1984, according to the Forward. Both of the rabbis now live in Israel.

Lamm’s comments about the sexual abuse allegations represented four paragraphs of a six-page resignation letter that otherwise was a reflection on his tenure at Y.U. Lamm also made an oblique reference to his failing health, noting, “Conditions have caused me to rely on help from my family in writing this letter.”

Richard Joel, the president of Y.U., declined to discuss Lamm’s remarks on the sexual allegations or be interviewed for this story. He released a statement to JTA through a spokesman.

“I would like to express my appreciation to Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm for his half-century of service to Yeshiva University. During his tenure he helped guide the University with steadfastness and vision,” Joel said in the statement. “Dr. Lamm’s contributions to the Jewish world as a distinguished rabbi, philosopher and scholar are unparalleled.”

In its report last fall, the Forward cited three former students who said Finkelstein invited students into his home or office to wrestle with them, that they could feel his erect penis against them during the tussling, and that Finkelstein told the students he loved them and tried to kiss some of them. Everybody at the school knew of Finkelstein’s penchant for wrestling with boys, the former students said.

Finkelstein denied to the Forward that there was anything sexual about his contact with students, though he said the wrestling, in retrospect, was wrong.

Gordon was accused of sodomizing a former student with a toothbrush when the student was 16. The former student and his father both told the Forward that they reported the incident to Y.U.’s leadership but did not report it to the police because they did not want to damage the school’s reputation or further harm the boy.

Rav Soloveitchik’s Clear Stand on Homosexuality

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

A rabbi who studied at Yeshiva University recently posted a blog where he commented on the prohibition of homosexual relations in Vayikra 18:22, “[E]very time I encounter these two verses, I feel I understand them less.”

Y.U. recently commemorated the twentieth yahrtzeit of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik (zt”l), the rosh yeshiva most associated with this institution. A man of immense integrity and Halachic loyalty, Rav Soloveitchik had no such problems understanding the clear, Divine language of the Torah. Speaking in 1974 about how “it’s quite in vogue to be heretical,” Rav Soloveitchik related the following:

A philosophy of [homo]sexualism is being preached throughout the Western world, to such an extent that a certain rabbi came to me and said, “How can we defend ourselves against it?” I told him, take out a Chumash and read a pasuk. V’es zachar lo sishkav mishk’vei ishah. [Vayikra 18:22] We are on the defensive, you understand. Why? And the same is true of abortion and so forth.

Rav Soloveitchik likewise observed in Man of Faith in the Modern World:

We think we know the motivations for the prohibitions against stealing, murder, adultery, and false testimony and for the positive commandments which reflect a sensitivity to the rights and welfare of others. They seem to be morally uplifting and socially stabilizing. In fact, however, their moral reasonableness is often in question in our modern world. The campaigns to legitimize abortion, euthanasia, adultery, and homosexuality are examples of the unreliability of the social conscience…

Specific to sexual morality, Rav Soloveitchik emphasized the universal nature of such standards. He noted in The Emergence of Ethical Man with reference to the Seven Noahide Laws,

It is worth mentioning that both prohibitions (bestiality and homosexuality) apply to non-Jews too and form part of a universal religion that is based upon the concept of man and personality.

Rav Soloveitchik elaborates in Abraham’s Journey on our duties to the gentile world in this area:

Our task was and still is to teach the Torah to mankind, to influence the non-Jewish world, to redeem it from an orgiastic way of living, from cruelty and insensitivity, to arouse in mankind a sense of justice and fairness. In a word, we are to teach the world the seven mitzvot that are binding on every human being.

What Rav Soloveitchik said in 1974 is truer than ever: normative Judaism is on the defensive in the modern world. The answer to this hostility is not to abandon our internal and global duties. The answer is not to pretend that HaShem is ambiguous where He is perfectly clear—an act equal parts arrogance and cowardice. May Rav Soloveitchik’s example give us focus and strength in days ahead

Yet Another Jewish Org Poised to Honor a BDS Enthusiast (video)

Friday, May 17th, 2013

One would think that after several recent public relations disasters when Jewish or Jewish-connected organizations honor people who support political and economic warfare against the State of Israel, that Jewish groups would stop doing this.

But one would be wrong.

First there was Yeshiva University’s Cardozo Law School which presented a human rights award to one of the world’s leading defamers and delegitimizers of Israel, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter.

Then there was the 92nd Street Y which came very close to providing a public platform from which leading BDS advocate Roger Waters would spew his venom against Israel. Luckily for the 92nd Street Y, Waters had to change the date of the appearance, and the Y took that opportunity to slip out of the noose it had created for itself.

Then there was the incredible fiasco of the State of Israel itself inviting a long-time critic of the Jewish State, scientist Stephen Hawking, to a major scientific conference in Israel.  A little due diligence would have revealed that Hawking was already on record as embracing a hostile narrative against Israel. But no, Israel invited Hawking to give a talk at the President’s Conference.  Hawking rebuffed the Jewish State, backing out of his commitment because he wanted to support the academic boycott against Israel. And Hawking and, especially, those who make the demonization of Israel their life’s work, were thrilled to chalk up a victory in the BDS war against the Jewish State.

Now we learn that the American fundraising arm of a wonderful Israeli institution – Soroka Medical Center – is poised to honor yet another soldier in the delegitimization war against Israel.

On June 18 at the Harvard Club in New York City, the American Friends of Soroka Medical Center will hold its annual gala.  The Statesman for Health Award is being given to a man who helped the virulently anti-Israel Jewish Voice for Peace support the boycott of Ariel Cultural Center. Mandy Patinkin not only supported the Ariel boycott, he allowed his name to be used to recruit other celebrities to vilify the cultural center in the Jewish town of Ariel. Some statesman.

Patinkin has done more than simply sign a letter of support for artists boycotting a cultural center in Israel, he has also assisted in a fundraiser for Jewish Voice for Peace, and has long been a national board member of Americans for Peace Now.  Just last year, at a conference in Israel he talked about having had his eyes opened while on a tour of Hebron with his good friends from Breaking the Silence, an organization committed to demonizing the Israel Defense Forces as a military force of terror, bent on acquiring territory, and not a defensive, ethical military.

Patinkin, unlike some with whom he associates, is not an Israel hater.  He simply believes that Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria are the nub of the problem and if Jews would just get the heck out of the area, peace would break out.

Patinkin said he supports Israel in a variety of ways, but says the “settlements ignite the situation” between Israelis and Palestinians. For Israel to build a new theater “in an illegal settlement” was adding fuel to the fire.

It is hard to listen to Patinkin and imagine anything other than that he has a warm, loving soul and just wants everyone to get along.  But he’s a big boy now, one with an audience who listens to him.  And with that following comes a responsibility.

The same is true for the American Friends of Soroka.

It is not enough to find a sweet Jewish man with a beautiful voice, one whose star is on the ascent because of his role in a huge television series hit. If the American Friends of Soroka wanted to honor someone, it would have been nice if they found someone who loves all of Israel, someone who doesn’t encourage economic warfare against any of it.

And now Jews are left with the choice of not going to a fundraiser for a wonderful, non-political medical center in Israel, or going and watching as an American Jew who encourages the economic boycott of a Jewish town is given an award.  It’s a tough choice that Jews should not make other Jews make.

 

4 Major American Jewish Orgs Rebuke Cardozo Over Carter Award

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Wednesday afternoon, April 10, a journal from Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of law will be presenting former President Jimmy Carter with an award, honoring him for his “human rights record.”  The Jewish Press has covered developments concerning this award and responses to it, extensively.

In addition to the many alumni and concerned individuals who spoke out against the Carter Cardozo Award, four of the largest American Jewish organizations have weighed in over the last 24 hours, all expressing their disgust 0ver the decision of a Jewish-affiliated school to give kavod (honor) to someone like Jimmy Carter.

On Tuesday, April 9, two organizations called on Cardozo to rescind the Carter honor. The Zionist Organization of America issued a statement, describing Carter as having a “repellant, decades-long record as an Israel-basher and promoter of Israel’s most vicious enemies, including Hamas.”

The National Council of Young Israel also issued a statement calling on Cardozo to rescind the invitation to Carter.  Farley Weiss, the president of the NCYI, wrote, “Mr. Carter’s well-known animus and bias towards the State of Israel has earned him widespread condemnation from Jews and non-Jews alike, and he certainly does not deserve to have any honor bestowed upon by him by an entity that has ties to the Jewish community and the Jewish State.”

On Wednesday, April 10, the day of the award ceremony, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Anti-Defamation League each publicly criticized Yeshiva University’s law school for choosing to honor and provide a platform to someone with such a well-documented anti-Israel history.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center, said the Cardozo law students had not exercised “due diligence” before choosing Jimmy Carter as an honoree.

“Had they done so,’ he told the Algemeiner, “they would have discovered that Mr Carter has never resolved his conflict with the Jewish state. His serial bias against Israel is well-documented. That alone should have led tomorrow’s lawyers, whatever their ethnicity or religion, to conclude  that President Carter should not receive such an honor.”

The ADL’s Foxman slammed the students, saying, “The students were wrong – they are entitled to be wrong and inappropriate and we are entitled to say that honoring former President Carter is wrong, especially for  a Jewish institution…and indeed for any institution.”

In response to Cardozo’s refusal to revoke the award and ceremony for Jimmy Carter, the Coalition of Concerned Cardozo Alumni issued the following statement:

It is shameful that President Richard Joel of Yeshiva University and Dean Matthew Diller of the Benjamin N. Cardozo Law School are not prepared to take a moral stand and rescind the invite to honor Jimmy Carter made by the Cardozo Journal for Conflict Resolution. By providing moral cover for those who would eradicate Israel and who despise America for her democratic values President Carter has caused irreparable harm to Israelis, Jews across the world and democracies across the globe. Cardozo has now provided a similar fig-leaf to President Carter and that is a terrible shame.

Jimmy Carter has an ignominious history of anti-Israel bigotry. He is responsible for helping to mainstream the antisemitic notion that Israel is an apartheid state with his provocatively titled book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid”, the publication of which prompted mass resignations from the Carter Center. He has met numerous times with leaders of the terror group Hamas, whitewashing their genocidal goals and undermining US efforts to isolate Hamas. And Carter’s record of slandering Israel is so voluminous that both CAMERA and Alan Dershowitz have written books refuting his lies.

It is disingenuous of the Cardozo administration to justify its decision to allow the event to go ahead in the name of “academic freedom”.  If a student journal at Cardozo were to invite David Duke to bestow an honor upon him, rest assured that Cardozo administration would not have remained aloof on the matter. By honoring Carter at a bedrock of the American Jewish community, Cardozo administration not only betrays the values of honesty, integrity and truth but it betrays its community of supporters who rightfully view Jimmy Carter as anathema to the aspirations of the Jewish people and the survival of the State of Israel.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/4-major-american-jewish-orgs-rebuke-cardozo-over-carter-award/2013/04/10/

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