And in the what took so long category, Rabbi Norman Lamm, the longtime Chancellor of Yeshiva University today finally resigned. In his resignation letter, he acknowledged he failed to act appropriately in response to sexual abuse perpetuated by his staff. He admittedly knew about the activities and did not alert the authorities, preferring to handle it privately.
Rightfully, Lamm says “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. And when that happens — one must do yeshiva. So, I too must do teshuvah [repentance].”
It is despicable to be silent in the face of wrongdoing – especially in matters as heinous as child molestation. As I wrote repeatedly (here, here and here), Lamm had to go and Yeshiva University as an institution had a lot to be ashamed about as the result of this affair. Owning a crisis PR agency, I understand the need to handle matters at the right time and in an appropriate manner. No matter what and where, child molestation must not be covered up.
As Lamm himself wrote “True character requires of me the courage to admit that, despite my best intentions then, I now recognize that I was wrong.” We all know what the road to hell is paved with.
Now that Lamm has finally – much too late – stepped up and is finally taking responsibility, others should follow. Who else on YU’s staff, board and community also needs to do teshuva? This is an issue which involves many people – and many more still need to take responsibility.