One would think that Torah education 101 would educate one that in order to be a good person, one would never turn a blind eye to child abuse.
Yeshiva University has a rich history as a leading institution teaching young Jews Torah and education – but they now are at a crossroads which could very well define the institution for many years to come. As the head of a crisis PR agency, I know well that The Forward’s ongoing investigation into sexual abuse allegations against two former staff members at a high school for boys run by Yeshiva University will not go away and needs to be addressed.
While YU has claimed they will investigate the matter, a new article was published Thursday which states that 14 men claim a teacher abused them. Undoubtedly, if so many accusations have only now been revealed, that many made the accusations so many years later, there are many more who don’t wish to come forward to be interviewed. This is a real issue which will not be swept under the carpet, as many in the religious community would prefer.
What amazes me is the lack of outrage in the Jewish community. Where are the advocacy organizations standing and yelling from the rooftops, as they should be? Child abuse is the most heinous crime – and it seems to be receiving little attention. Where are the donors saying that those who aided the cover-up must be fired?
Rabbi Norman Lamm protected the accused and the institution – and not the victims. The buck stops with the boss – Rabbi Norman Lamm, who failed to contact authorities or prevent the accused from continuing their activities in other educational roles. Rabbi Norman Lamm, the Chancellor (who was YU President at the time) never notified police of the acts, and admittedly allowed the abusers to quietly leave YU and go on to teach other kids. Lamm told the media that “This was before things of this sort had attained a certain notoriety.”
Jacob Lew, an Orthodox Jew and the White House chief of staff, said this week when receiving an honorary doctorate from Yeshiva University: “The alleged behavior is despicable and cannot be tolerated in any place, at any time, and the response must transcend the confines of religious teaching. Leaders of this and every educational institution have a sacred responsibility under civil law to protect children from any action that might endanger or exploit them. Across the country in recent years, we’ve seen too much evidence of inappropriate behavior at too many institutions responsible for nurturing our children.”
The time is now for Rabbi Norman Lamm to be fired. No one who turns a blind eye to molesters should be permitted to remain in their job. One cannot be a rabbi, a teacher – or a decent human being if they see or know something, and do nothing. If you see something, say something – one doesn’t need to be a Torah Scholar to know that.
The basics of Judaism require standing up for good and against evil.