Yeshiva University has been an important institution within the framework of the educational network of the Modern Orthodox Jewish community. We have always expected the highest moral stance from such an institution. In the name of the school – the name Yeshiva comes before University and in its motto, Torah u’Mada – Torah is paramount and science indicates our engagement with the outside world. Taken together, it is a public declaration of our source of morals and ethics and they should be of the highest caliber.
Yeshiva University has a Torah video blog called YUTorah.org which uploads shiurim (Torah classes) from numerous teachers and public educators and has been doing so for many years. Jonathan Rosenblatt ‘s first lecture was uploaded on July 22, 2009 and there are a total of 42 shiurim now available on the site.
The first story about Rosenblatt was published by the New York Times on May 29, 2015 and YUTorah.org continued to upload his pieces until July 25, 2016, more than a year after serious questions were being raised.
The implications are outrageous and I was not the first person to raise the issue. I became aware of this lapse in judgment by friends who were appalled with the stance of the powers that be. At that time, I wrote a letter to Richard Joel, then-president of Yeshiva University.
December 19, 2016
500 W. 185th Street
New York, NY 10033
Attention: Richard Joel, President
Your tenure at Yeshiva University is coming to a close and I’m sure you are looking back on those years with satisfaction. I hope that in the years to come you will find other endeavors that suit your talents and will benefit those around you as well.
There is one particular matter I would implore you to rectify before you step down as president. Although you live in North Riverdale, Riverdale basically constitutes one large community. You are certainly aware of the unfortunate tenure of Jonathan Rosenblatt as rabbi of the Riverdale Jewish Center in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. His final ouster from that pulpit was a series of mixed messages but there is considerable evidence of his inexcusable behavior with teenage boys and young men in Riverdale and elsewhere. Yeshiva University has had its own problems with dealing with inexcusable behavior within its ranks and by now must certainly have come to grips with the problem and its consequences.
Among the many online websites that YU is involved in there is one called YUTorah.com which uploads shi’urim by various teachers of Judaica. After Rosenblatt was finally forced out of the RJC around February 2016, I was flabbergasted to learn that his shi’urim were still being uploaded. I know many people, with much more clout than I have, spoke to various parties involved with the website explaining that this was highly inappropriate and the sh’iurim should come down. The apparent compromise was that nothing past July 25, 2016 has been uploaded. However, all his shi’urim from July 2009 until July 25, 2016 are still online under the aegis of YUTorah. I believe this is a serious mistake and should be rectified by removing all of his material. No one has ever claimed that he was not smart, just that his behavior makes him a completely unacceptable role model for teaching Torah and YU should not give him any type of forum to reach the unwary.
This letter was met with silence although based on a subsequent conversation, I know it was received and its contents dismissed.