When bad things happen, the responsibility of good people is to stand up and do the right thing. Being quiet is wrong. Standing up and saying the wrong thing is even worse.
At Yeshiva University (YU) over the last few months it has been uncovered that a child sex abuse scandal was not only swept under the rug – it has shown that the YU Administration will enable molesters. In response to allegations that two staff members at the High School for Boys’ Manhattan campus sexually abused students, Rabbi Norman Lamm, who was President of YU at the time of these incidents (and is now Chancellor) admitted that the school permitted the accused to leave YU and go on to teach other children elsewhere.
Lamm said he didn’t notify police of these acts as “This was before things of this sort had attained a certain notoriety.” (Mr. Lamm – I attended NYC schools in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s -there’s always been a problem with molestation.)
Just this week, it was further revealed that Rabbi Hershel Schachter, a rabbinic dean at Yeshiva University said before anyone reports molestation they should vet it with a Rabbi who is also a psychologist. “Before you go to the police and before you go to family services, every community should have a board…to investigate whether there’s any raglayim la’davar [substance] or not.” Who says a Rabbi is trained to detect liars? And if he wants to protect his fellow Rabbi? Or if the student wants to spare his family embarrassment in a tight-knit community?
Rabbi Schachter further implied that victims could be inventing stories “It could be that the whole thing is a bubbe-mayse [tall tale],” and false allegations could lead to arrests “the warden in the prison can kill you. They can put you in a cell together with a shvartze, with a…black Muslim who wants to kill all the Jews.” Surely this person lives in another world – Don’t police investigate before making arrests? Jewish criminals belong in jail, just as non-Jewish criminals do.
After pressure from the ADL, a Y.U. spokesperson said: “The recent use of a derogatory racial term and negative characterizations of African-Americans and Muslims, by a member of the faculty, are inappropriate, offensive, and do not represent the values and mission of Yeshiva University.”
It is important to note they said nothing about forcing a child to go to a school rabbi/shrink, rather than the police.
Jewish molesters should not be protected – anywhere. Why should Rabbis be the arbiters for fellow Rabbi molestors? Owning a PR firm am of the mindset that this story needs more shine on it. YU has to take action to protect kids – not child molesters.
Yeshiva University is the most important educational institution in the Orthodox world. It owes the entire Jewish community transparency, and major changes. As the parent of children in Modern Orthodox day schools I couldn’t imagine what parent would want their kid in an institution that doesn’t protect kids.
Shame on YU.