Twenty-six Students Earn the Katz School’s Associate Degree
Even though the skies were overcast, the Sky Café radiated warmth and pride as friends, family and staff gathered on July 18, 2019, to honor the first graduating class of the Associate of Science in Management at the Katz School of Science and Health.
Dr. Paul Russo, dean of the Katz School, reflected the enthusiasm and deep satisfaction in the room when he said that “over the last two years, I have had the good fortune to be surrounded by these enterprising students—the young men and women who built YU’s associate program. They are smart and hardworking and bring to life the best of Yeshiva University. In addition to a full load of academic and Jewish studies courses, they integrated into campus life and found time for community service.”
The AS in Management is a full-time, residential program completed over two full years, including two fall semesters, two spring semesters, and two mandatory summer semesters. This first cohort of 26 students started in Fall 2017, and their achievements two years later are quite impressive: over 75 percent of them maintained a cumulative grade point average above 3.0; 19 students plan to transfer to Yeshiva University bachelor’s programs, while five students will attend bachelor’s programs outside the University.
This cohort was also active outside the class. Several student leaders founded the Katz Undergraduate Student Government (KUSG) and held their first elections and hosted their first on-campus event in Spring 2019. Eight men and two women played on the YU basketball, baseball, soccer and volleyball teams.
Students also availed themselves of the opportunities to speak with key entrepreneurs as well as cultural, business and government leaders in places like the New York Federal Reserve, Hudson Yards, Saks Fifth Avenue and The Jewish Museum as well as with judges in their chambers.
More important than their educational and cultural achievements, however, was the personal transformation the program brought to each of them. Jacob Finkelstein, who is vice president of KUSG, said it well: “This program made us all better people, and I am ready for the ride. It will be incredible.”
Kyle Harris agreed. Surrounded by his mother, Joanne, and his rabbi, Rabbi Avi Utler, both of whom flew in from Las Vegas to be at this ceremony, Harris spoke with emotion about how completing this program “made me feel accomplished and ready to move forward with my life.” He plans on pursuing his studies in education and history, with the goal of becoming a teacher of American history.
Yeshiva University’s high school hosted a gay conversion therapist at a recent Parent Education Night, the Forward has learned.
Dr. Gavriel Fagin, who runs a Brooklyn-based counseling service, spoke to parents of students at the Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy, stylized as MTA, at a mandatory event Monday.
The website for Fagin’s practice, Tikun Counseling, advertises that his services include “Individual therapy for a wide range of sexual issues… These issues include… same-sex attraction.” A page on the website also lists recommended reading for “Same-Sex Attraction” — listed between recommended reading pages for Anger Management and Sexual Abuse — which includes the title “A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality.”
In January, New York made it professional misconduct for mental health workers to try and change a minor’s sexual orientation or identity, sometimes referred to as “reparative therapy.”
“I don’t know if there was some nefarious agenda to expose all the parents to someone who does conversion therapy,” said Mordechai Levovitz, executive director of Jewish Queer Youth, a nonprofit that works with Jewish LGBTQ people, particularly high school and college students. “But I don’t know how you can look at his website and not see that he does conversion therapy.”
In an emailed statement, MTA wrote, “The discussion on Monday night for MTA parents focused on raising awareness about the challenges adolescents today face, learning to become better listeners, and opening barriers between parents and children to make children feel comfortable approaching their parents to discuss anything they may be experiencing. At YUHSB we strive to help provide a comfortable environment for all of our students — we do not endorse reparative therapy.”
Conversion therapy is based on the premise that sexual identity can be changed through therapeutic treatment, and that heterosexuality is the preferred outcome. Conversion therapy can often cause or exacerbate mental health issues in the people being treated, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Nearly 700,000 U.S. adults aged 18 to 59 have received conversion therapy, according to a study from the Williams Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles School of Law. Roughly half received treatments as adolescents. The practice is banned in 15 states.
At this very moment, children in Jewish day schools and yeshivas across the country are learning about the fall of the Roman Empire, the intricacies of Talmud, and the anatomy of the human body. They are building robots and competing in debate tournaments, while anticipating their acceptances to prestigious universities. Their lives are fixated on an education which will be the foundation of their economic and social futures, allowing them to positively impact their communities. Their lives have been focused on education, both secular and Jewish, for as long as they can remember. It is all they know, and most take it for granted. They expect all Jewish children to have these experiences, but this is unfortunately not the case. If you travel to the ultra-Orthodox communities of Brooklyn and Rockland County, most children will never learn how to write an essay, name the bones in their bodies, or do mathematics beyond multiplication and division. Many will end their secular educations at the age of twelve, and some will never be able to sign their names in English.
The ultra-Orthodox community has many attributes. Its community members are pious, dedicated, and passionate, deserving of respect from the rest of Jewish society. However, the state of education in most ultra-Orthodox communities is in crisis. While I never wish to impede the religious freedoms of individuals, the issue of education is not a religious one. Education is a necessity. Education is the atom of our lives. Without it, we cannot flourish and we cannot succeed. Just as you cannot have gold, silver, or iron without atoms, you cannot have health, wealth, or gender equality without a solid education. Education breaks cycles of poverty and illness, allowing those born into low socioeconomic communities to rise above their circumstances. By prohibiting valid standards of education in a community, you are cutting off a life-line, and pulling the plug on lives that still have potential.
In ultra-Orthodox communities, girls are provided with a solid, albeit a substandard, education. Girls are taught four hours of Jewish studies and four hours of secular studies per day. They are prohibited from learning Gemara and their studies are immensely censored, but they are taught history, English, science, and math. They will most likely not utilize their education, but they have received one. Boys experience education a bit differently. Many Chassidic boys begin their secular educations at seven years old. From seven to twelve, they have approximately one hour of secular studies per day, when they learn the basics of math, reading, science, and history. Secular studies are viewed as an inconvenience by administrative figures, and the children notice this, causing them to disrespect their secular studies teachers. They come to realize rather quickly that their secular education does not matter in the slightest.
When these boys turn thirteen, everything changes. Most boys are sent to yeshivas, where they remain for up to fifteen hours per day. They learn no secular studies at all. Some boys are given the option to take secular studies classes after their fifteen hours of learning, but most decline. They are exhausted. Why learn secular studies when they can use the time to sleep? And more importantly, why learn secular studies if their rabbis do not deem them vital? Consequently, by the time they are eighteen years old, most boys will have the education level of a fourth-grade public school student.
This system sets children up for hardship. Education generates tolerance, understanding, and critical thinking skills, and Chassidic children are deprived of these essential proficiencies. It is well-known that education is dangerous. Education challenges the power of leadership. Education is the one weapon ultra-Orthodox communities cannot fight in the war against secularization. Educate a child and you change a world; keep a child in darkness and you preserve your influence.
Chassidic communities face astronomical levels of poverty, and this is a product of insufficient education. In the Chassidic village of New Square, the average household income is $21,773, compared to the New York State average of $60,741. This makes New Square the poorest municipality in New York, with a poverty rate of 70%. The New York Chassidic community of Kiryas Joel is ranked as the second poorest New York municipality. These communities rely heavily on government funds, making it nearly impossible for them to ever reach stability. While some men in these communities are born with innate business-sense, allowing them to build their way up economically, they are the exceptions. Most struggle to find jobs to support their families, and many women are busy raising their large families, barring them from working full-time jobs.
You’d think that the government would notice this lacking educational system and do something to combat it, but the government does close to nothing to improve the educational standards of these communities. The bloc votes provided by Chassidic sects are vital for political reelections. Without the Chassidic vote, many would not be in their positions. Investigations into the dismal state of ultra-Orthodox educational affairs are pushed off, closed due to inadequate evidence, and utterly ignored. But politicians cannot ignore a problem of this magnitude, as it will grow and consume the next generation of Chassidic children.
If politicians choose to do nothing, then it is up to the Modern Orthodox community to take concrete action. The Modern Orthodox community has a love/hate relationship with the Chassidic community. They adore sharing mystical tales of Chassidic rabbis, admiring the sects from afar. However, they tend to disassociate with the more fundamentalist Jewish sects, and they believe that the issues plaguing these communities are not theirs to combat. But I beg to differ.
Yeshiva University is an institution which defines itself by Torah U’Madda. YU has found a way to fuse these two together, and its students represent Torah Jewry at its finest. Students of Yeshiva University, and Modern Orthodox individuals at large, are the only ones who can assist the Chassidic community. They are in a position to persuade. They can teach the Chassidic community how to balance a Torah life and a life of secular education. They can teach the Chassidic community how to rise above poverty and gender inequality. They can change the worlds of children being denied a fundamental human right. Remaining apathetic is no longer an option. YU is at the forefront of change across the world, but change begins at home. Chassidic communities are family. They share the same genes and heritage as those attending Yeshiva University, and many Yeshiva University students have Chassidic ancestry.
Modern Orthodoxy must exert its resources and vast knowledge to save the state of education in Chassidic communities. It is their obligation to assist those who have trouble assisting themselves, for what good is Tikkun Olam if it is only practiced in third world countries? Modern Orthodoxy must start organizations, lead GED programs, and help encourage local government officials. Yeshiva University should make a concerted effort to recruit students from ultra-Orthodox schools. Many ultra-Orthodox teenagers do not fit the Chassidic mold and want to pursue something religiously different. However, they do not have educational resources and do not believe that there is a religious alternative to their upbringings, leading them to leave Judaism completely. Organizations like NCSY should be welcoming and accommodating to students of ultra-Orthodox backgrounds, since they too could use kiruv. Summer programs and camps should do everything in their power to accept the ultra-Orthodox, as it would provide a comforting and safe Jewish environment for these children to blossom in. Acknowledging the positive work done by many Modern Orthodox institutions should be highlighted and celebrated, like families from Chassidic backgrounds being accepted into schools like Bruriah, Ma’ayanot, and Yeshiva University. However, we should not be satisfied with anything less than excellence, and the current state of ultra-Orthodox education is anything but excellent.
Malky Wigder Alleges Sexual Harassment by Rabbi Ephraim Bryks
Rabbi Ephraim Bryks (born around 1954) was accused of sexually abusing boys and girls in Canada in cases that got a lot of publicity on CBC and American media. He dodged conviction but also lost libel cases against the networks that broadcast the story. Eventually, his former synagogue in Winnipeg stripped him of his emeritus title. and removed a plaque commending his service to them.
After returning to the US he ran a yeshiva for children from the former Soviet Union.
Eventually he was cut off from pulpit positions because of his reputation. He was also induced to resign from the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) in 2003 and the Rabbinical Board of Queens (Vaad Harabonim) rather than face charges according to a report in the Jewish Week (NY) in 2010.
Nevertheless he presents himself as a rabbi, a marriage counselor and a convener of his own rabbinical court (though no other rabbis are listed by name). Stories of his attempts to use these roles to sexually exploit women are widespread on the grapevine.
Approximately ten years ago, Rabbi Yosef Blau, the senior spiritual advisor at the Yeshiva University seminary, publicly declared:
Ephrayim Bryks has become a rabbinic marriage counselor. The term marriage counselor or life coach can be used by anyone. He is not the only “rabbi” suspected of sexual abuse using one of these titles to access vulnerable individuals or couples both here and in Israel. Consulting actual professionals is expensive and unless the community publicly warns against going to these charlatans (often worse) many innocents will continue to be hurt.
Rabbi Blau confirmed to me that he still stands by that position in emails and discussions over the last 3 months.
Malky Wigder posted (6/10/18) on Facebook this description of his sex harassment and behavior after he offered her free help in dealing with a rabbinical court in connection with her divorce. With her consent I am posting her full account.
[LM Note: We are reprinting this article from http://www.protectjewishkids.com]. Erik Aiken’s site has the largest “list” of child molesters and alleged molesters compiled in a database. He has given his all to this charge. We have links to his article on the bottom right hand corner of our control box. We commend Eric on his hard work and perseverance and we invite you to peruse his site, donate, contribute, provide assistance. These endeavors are difficult with a staff and he largely works alone. He should be commended. If he saves one child at a time from a life of reliving those horrors, he has accomplished something. Please help support his cause.]
In 2013, Yeshiva University was sued by 34 plaintiffs alleging they were sexually abused when they were students there. Although the Torah does not recognize a statute of limitations, Y.U. invoked this arbitrary secular law that Judaism rejects to get the lawsuit dismissed because the plaintiffs filed their claims too late.
Due to the scandalous revelations contained in the lawsuit and the resultant public outcry, Y.U. hired a law firm to investigate itself. Y.U.’s Board of Trustees pledged to make public the “specific details” of the investigation. But before the report could be made public, the law firm claimed that a “Special Committee” (it doesn’t say who was on the committee) had intervened and directed it not to report the details, reneging on Y.U.’s public pledge of transparency. The result was that the law firm issued a 53-page report that said nothing about the pervasive sexual and physical abuse of Y.U. students except for a vague 3-paragraph summary buried on page 8.
The summary stated the obvious and what was already known from the massive Y.U. lawsuit. That numerous students were indeed sexually and physically abused over the course of many years by a number of individuals in a position of authority. It also stated that the abuse wasn’t just limited to Y.U’s high school, but extended to other Y.U. facilities that were not identified. It further stated that members of Y.U.’s administration were aware of the abuse, and on multiple occasions did not act to protect its students and sometimes didn’t even respond to allegations of abuse.
The report did not name a single child molester known to Y.U. and its rabbis. It did not name a single rabbi or administration official who knew about the abuse, covered-up the molesters, ignored victims and did nothing to protect Y.U. students. It did not identify who quashed the full report. It did not reveal how many students were molested, during what time period or if the abuse extended beyond just the boys or if it also included girls and women at Y.U. educational facilities.
The report did not explain why Y.U. officials did not warn other Orthodox institutions who subsequently hired its child sex predators. It did not explain why Y.U. has assumed no responsibility for caring for, healing and adequately compensating students who have suffered their entire lives due to being sexually assaulted by Y.U. staff in Y.U. buildings. The report did not explain why no one at Y.U. was fired over the monstrous abuse of its own students, by its own staff.
Warning the public about dangerous men with a history of harming Jewish children is a basic Torah requirement. Begging forgiveness and fully compensating victims who were abused is the least Y.U. could have done and embodies fundamental Jewish concepts. Nevertheless, it seems that Y.U.’s rabbis, Torah scholars and officials ignored Torah law, Jewish morals and basic human decency and did nothing.
Y.U. was willing to pay lawyers to fight its own students to prevent them from receiving money that could have helped them gain healing. Y.U. was willing to pay its investigative law firm a reported $2.5 million to issue a censored report that held no Y.U. staff or administrators accountable for their failure to protect its students.
According to The Jewish Forward, in 2014 (the year that the lawsuit was dismissed), Y.U. lost a reported $150 million and its credit rating was downgraded to junk-bond status. Despite Y.U.’s desperate financial situation, it nevertheless paid president Richard Joel a compensation package of more than $2 million above his base salary. His base salary just by itself made him the highest paid president of any Jewish non-profit.
To see how disgracefully a major Torah institution and rabbinical seminary deals with sexual abuse, it’s helpful to compare Y.U.’s actions to a secular university that had a similar abuse case.
Penn State faced allegations that popular coach Jerry Sandusky sexually abused his students for 40 years. As a result, Penn State commissioned a truly independent investigation led by former FBI head Louis Freeh. Unlike Y.U., Penn State’s detailed report was made public. Sandusky was sent to jail for at least 30 years, top Penn State officials who covered-up the abuse were criminally charged, fired or resigned. Penn State will pay 32 victims over $92 million. And the press has written scathing reports saying that Penn State didn’t do nearly enough.
By contrast at Y.U., no one who committed child sex crimes went to jail, no one who covered-up the abuse was fired or forced to resign, the details of the abuse were concealed and Y.U. didn’t pay a dime to its victims.
Instead of enriching its lawyers and president, Y.U. could have offered that same money to its students, giving each alleged victim $125,000 with a personal, heartfelt apology from the rabbis and administration that allowed them to be abused. Y.U. could have taken this opportunity to show the world that rabbis, Torah scholars and Orthodox institutions are willing to accept responsibility for their failures and show caring and compassion to defenseless kids who were victims of horrific sexual abuse.
But instead, Y.U. chose money over morals, rabbis over victims and cowardice over accountability.
Eric Aiken is the owner of http://www.protectjewishkids.com and an advocate for Orthodox victims of child sexual abuse. “The List” is the world’s largest database of Orthodox child molesters.
JOHN FLANAGAN AND ANDREW CUOMO, YOU DESERVE TO SIT IN A CELL WITH A RAPIST – THE SAME FATE OF MANY JEWISH YESHIVA CHILDREN WHO ARE CHAINED TO CLASSROOMS WITH SERIAL ABUSERS, AND CHRISTIAN ALTER BOYS WHO ARE VICTIMIZED BY THEIR PRIESTS…
Lost Messiah, June 17, 2016
We cannot go far enough to express our disgust with the latest events within the New York State Senate. There are simply no adequate words that could diminish the weight of the vile behavior of many of our Senators and Governor Cuomo.
For many survivors of sexual abuse, the Child Victims act represented a redemption of sorts. Their experiences and feelings that followed would finally be lit by a light of support and validation. Child victims of sexual abuse would finally have an ability to seek pecuniary damages, for years after their 18th birthdays, albeit after-the-fact. They would likely be saving hundreds of children that followed not only from abuse but from the shame of having been abused.
The Child Victims Act was vigorously fought by organizations related to the Catholic Church and by numerous Jewish organizations who argued that it would place Yeshivas in financial peril years after abuse. These are the same Yeshivas which have turned a blind eye, benefited financially from donations to do so, and allowed the abuse to continue.
And the financial implications really are not the pivotal issue for victims. Many victims want to be able to prosecute the abusers after they turn 18 and are old enough to deal with the destruction that has befallen them. In only small measure has this ever been about the money for victims. It has in larger part been about punishing serial sex abusers and making certain that those abusers cannot damage more lives.
Senator John Flanagan, who we have criticized for his political whoring on this issue is one of many who rely heavily on the ultra-Orthodox Jewish block vote to strengthen his political hold of his Senate seat. He has daughters; so we find his position on this nearly unfathomable. Governor Cuomo has proven himself a block vote puppet countless times now; and we only hope that during the next election cycle people vote ANYONE BUT CUOMO into office.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo makes a point during a meeting on tax cut proposals in the Red Room at the Capitol on Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, in Albany, N.Y. Cuomo has proposed cutting the states corporate income tax from 7.1 percent to 6.5 percent and eliminating it altogether for upstate manufacturers. He also has proposed paying more state aid as an incentive to any of New Yorks 10,500 local governments that impose hard 2 percent spending caps and cut their costs by consolidating services with other towns, villages, cities and counties. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Kathryn Robb, a child sex abuse survivor and advocate, was flabbergasted.
“It’s more important to fashionably dress female hunters than it is to protect children from sexual abuse and give victims of sexual abuse justice?” Robb said. “Wow. That is something much greater than outrageous.”
Meanwhile, Gov. Cuomo and legislative leaders, who couldn’t come to terms on a bill for sex abuse victims, did agree on legislation that would allow restaurants to begin serving alcohol on Sundays at 10 a.m., instead of the current noon requirement
The Legislature also passed a bill that would let the cremated remains of dogs and cats be buried with their owners.
Another bill that passed both houses would allow college students under 21 enrolled in programs involving the agriculture, hospitality and beverage industries to partake in tastings at off-campus wineries, distilleries and breweries as long as they are supervised by an instructor.
Gary Greenberg, an upstate investor who was sexually abused as a child, called it “depressing” and a “slap at all the victims” that the Legislature had no trouble passing more frivolous bills while leaving abuse survivors hanging.
“The reason the Legislature passes meaningless bills is to build up their voting records to cover the fact they do nothing on the real issues,” Greenberg said. “The feelings victims have is that by not passing the Child Victims (Act), they are being revictimized by the Legislature.”
In a bitter irony, even as some lawmakers were against the Child Victims Act because they oppose opening a window to revive old sex abuse cases, the state Senate Thursday gave final passage to a bill that leaves open a separate window that allows Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange to bring lawsuits even though the statute of limitations for such cases expired in 1985.
In explaining his support for the bill, Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) pointed out the hypocrisy of the situation.
“Just as Vietnam veterans were exposed to Agent Orange through no fault of their own, we have kids who are exposed to predators at no fault of their own,” said Hoylman, the Senate sponsor of the Child Victims Act. “I hope this chamber takes up the Child Victims Act before it’s too late.”
Neal Huff was waiting in line at a Westchester post office earlier this year when a clerk recognized him as the actor who played dogged victim advocate Phil Saviano in “Spotlight,” the Academy Award-winning film about The Boston Globe’s investigation into the Catholic Church sex-abuse scandal.
The clerk had a big smile on his face as he announced that he was a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Huff said that kind of openness is necessary to change laws that prevent victims from seeking justice.
“That is the only hope this issue has, if people talk about it,” the actor said. “Awareness is the tool we need to change these laws, because the laws will not get changed without public outcry. It is mind-boggling to think of how far back New York is on this issue.”
Huff has teamed up with Saviano to ensure the public outcry sparked by “Spotlight” doesn’t wane once the closing credits end.
The actor and the activist marched across the Brooklyn Bridge earlier this month, along with hundreds of other survivors and supporters, to encourage lawmakers to repeal the statutes of limitations on sex abuse cases in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
They traveled to Albany last month to lobby for passage of a bill that would eliminate the statute of limitations in New York, which bars victims from pursuing criminal charges or civil lawsuits after their 23rd birthday.
Huff and Saviano will also appear together at SNAP’s (the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests) annual conference in Chicago later this month.
Saviano, 63, and Huff have forged a deep friendship. Saviano said he was impressed because while the New York actor understood that he would be playing the Massachusetts activist in the film, he would be standing in for millions of other abuse victims who have been denied their day in court.
“Right from the get-go, Neal understood that he would be representing not only me but all those other clergy abuse victims,” Saviano said.
Saviano said he was repeated molested by Father David Holley, beginning in 1964 when he was just 11-years-old. The abuse continued for 18 months until Holley mysteriously disappeared from Saviano’s Douglas, Mass., parish.
Holley, also accused of sexually abusing children in Colorado, Texas and New Mexico, was sentenced to up to 275 years in prison in 1993. He died behind bars at age 80 in 2008.
Saviano, who was diagnosed with AIDS, got an attorney — Eric MacLeish, played by Billy Crudup in “Spotlight” — who eventually negotiated a $12,500 settlement with the Diocese of Worcester. The agreement did not bar Saviano from speaking publicly about the abuse.
Richard Joel, President of Yeshiva University – 212-960-5300 email@example.com
Yeshiva University is the premier Modern Orthodox rabbinical seminary in the world. Thousands of Y.U. students have become ordained rabbis through Y.U. Many of them lead prominent synagogues and Orthodox institutions.
Unfortunately, some Y.U. rabbis have a very long history of either failing to protect Orthodox children and adults, supporting convicted child sex predators, failing to defrock abusive rabbis and ignoring the pleas of victims for help, as will be shown below.
1) Y.U. was sued by 34 former students alleging that Rabbi GeorgeFinkelstein,Rabbi Macy Gordon and Rick Andron sexually abused them over the course of many years. The case was dismissed not due to lack of evidence or witnesses willing to testify, but on statute of limitations grounds.
A report commissioned by Y.U. at a reported cost of $2.5 million confirms that abuse took place in many Y.U. locations, by numerous individuals and over the course of many years.
The summary report states –
“The Investigative Team has concluded that multiple incidents of varying types of sexual and physical abuse took place at YUHSB during the relevant time period. This conduct was carried out by a number of individuals in positions of authority at the High Schools at various times throughout the period covered by the Investigation, including, in certain instances, after members of the administration had been made aware of such conduct. In addition, the Investigative Team found that, during the relevant time period, sexual and physical abuse took place at other schools comprising the University as well.”
The Y.U. lawsuit was thrown out due to New York’s disgracefully short statute of limitations (courtesy of the Catholic Church and Agudath Israel).
In Judaism, there is no such thing as a statute of limitations. Criminal acts are never forgiven without the offender begging forgiveness from each and every victim and fully compensating the victims for their lifetime of pain, therapy and the damage that they suffered.
Ironically, the world’s most prominent Modern Orthodox rabbinical seminary uses secular law to skirt the Torah and Jewish values because of a statute of limitations that Torah law does not recognize.
Despite Y.U.’s own damning report –
No one was fired over the scandal.
Victims, to my knowledge, have not been compensated for the harm they suffered.
Y.U. will not publicly identify the molesters.
Y.U. will not name the rabbis and officials who covered up the abuse.
Former Chancellor Rabbi Norman Lamm has publicly admitted that he allowed Y.U. molesters to be hired by other Jewish institutions and he did not warn them.
Contrast Y.U.’s rabbis’ actions with an entirely secular university that had a similar sex abuse scandal – Penn State. In the Jerry Sandusky case, university officials lost their jobs, Penn State was severely sanctioned and Sandusky went to jail for at least 30 years for the sexual abuse of students that went on for years. Penn State has already paid $60 million in compensation to 26 victims and may pay more.
Instead of hiding behind its lawyers, it’s time that Y.U. displays humility, compassion, leadership and a commitment to adhering to Torah law.
Y.U. needs to reach out to each and every victim, apologize, beg their forgiveness and amply compensate them for their lifetime of suffering.
In addition, Y.U. needs to publicly identify every person it believes to be a sex offender and warn the communities in which the offender lives and works about him.
2) After Y.U. president Richard Joel made 2 public declarations that Y.U. was safe, Y.U. hired a convicted child sex offender,Akiva Roth, to teach Hebrew.
3) Rabbi Matis Weinbergwas alleged to have abused numerous Y.U. students in Israel. Y.U. terminated its study abroad program in 2003 because of Weinberg but does not say what Weinberg is believed to have done to Y.U. students. I personally warned Y.U. rabbis about Weinberg 22 years prior to these events. They knew of abuse allegations against Weinberg for decades and yet Y.U. students were still sent to a yeshiva where Weinberg had access them.
4) Rabbi Marc Gafniwas once a Y.U. rabbinical student and he also ran a teen outreach program from a Y.U. office. He has publicly admitted to having sexual relations with Sara Kabakov when she was 13. She alleges that she told several Y.U.-ordained rabbis about Gafni and that they either ignored her or defended Gafni.
Judy Mitzner alleges that she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by Gafni when she was a minor. She claims that she reported the abuse to Y.U. and that nobody did anything to protect her or stop Gafni.
“So, what is wrong here? Why did Yeshiva University (who heard my story at the time directly from me, and stories from others) permit Mordechai Winiarz (aka Marc Gafni) to continue his employ as the director of the then Jewish Public School Youth Movement?”
(From Judy Mitzner’s blog)
5) Rabbi Baruch Lanneris a former Jewish school principal and youth group leader. He is also a convicted child sex offender who was protected for years by Y.U.-ordained rabbis. Even after he served 6 years in jail, he was allegedly welcomed into the home and synagogue of Y.U.’s high school principal, Rabbi Michael Taubes.
6) Evan Zauder is a convicted child sex offender who was a rabbinical student at Y.U. Before his sentencing (he received 13 years), 50 individuals sent letters to the judge requesting leniency for Zauder.
Some of the letters were sent from prominent Y.U. staff including:
Rabbi Ezra Schwartz, Rosh Yeshiva of RIETS;
Rabbi Kenneth Brander, Vice President of university and community life;
Dr. David Pelcovitz, professor of psychology and special assistant to Y.U. president, Richard Joel.
Letters were also sent to the judge by prominent rabbis including:
Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, Congregation Bnei Yeshurun of Teaneck, New Jersey;
Rabbi Reuven Taragin, Dean Yeshivat HaKotel (Rabbi Mordechai Elon, Yeshivat Hakotel’s former Rosh Yeshiva, was convicted of child molestation);
Rabbi Baruch Taub, Rabbi Emeritus of Beth Avraham Yosef of Toronto Congregation.
No one sent letters to the judge voicing support for Zauder’s victims or advocating for a jail term commensurate with Zauder’s crime. Nothing tells victims of Orthodox child sex offenders that rabbis don’t give a damn about them like the Evan Zauder case.
7) Rabbi Barry Freundel is a world-renowned, Y.U.-ordained rabbi. He was also my rabbi in Washington, D.C. Freundel is currently serving a 6 1/2 year sentence after being caught secretly video-recording 150 women over the course of several years as they undressed to go into one of the most sacred places in Judaism – the women’s mikva (ritual bath).
I can’t think of one rabbi who has done more to damage and traumatize thousands of Orthodox women around the world than Freundel. There are women who refused to use the mikva (causing tremendous marital strife) after reading about Freundel’s disgusting betrayal of his rabbinic power. Women Freundel converted publicly questioned whether they even wanted to remain Jewish anymore.
Yet Y.U., to my knowledge, has not revoked his ordination. For that matter, I am not aware of any rabbi who has sexually abused women or children who has had their ordination revoked by Y.U.
Even the Catholic Church, as horrible as they have been (and still are) in protecting molesters, defrocks molester priests. In a recent 10-year period, the Catholic Church defrocked 848 molester priests and censured another 2,500. I have never heard of a single rabbi, anywhere, whose ordination was revoked due to him being a sexual predator.
Y.U. President Richard Joel, the $2.8 million man
According to The Jewish Forward, Richard Joel, Yeshiva University’s president, reportedly told a man who complained to him that he was molested at Y.U., “[I] told him to get on with his life…”
Also, according to The Jewish Forward, in 2014 (the year that the Y.U. lawsuit was dismissed on statute of limitations grounds), Richard Joel received a compensation package of $2.8 million. This made him by far the highest paid executive of any Jewish non-profit. His previous year’s salary was $900,000. Also in 2014, Y.U. ran a deficit of $150 million. Nice work if you can get it.