Tonight, on the eve of the 9th of Av many people will be mixing the ashes of mourning for the destruction of the Temple with their searing memories of innocence allegedly lost to Richard (Rick or Ricky) Andron at YU, NCSY, and perhaps, even the Boca Raton Synagogue where you are rabbi emeritus.
Rabbi Brander, how in G-d’s name, knowing his history as an abuser, could you give him access to youth by letting him regularly organize and work with children to lead the singing of Anim Zmiros and Havdalah? When individuals challenged you about this you would acknowledge his prior history but insist he was now cured. Did you also assign an alcoholic in remission to be the bartender at celebrations?
Rabbi Brander, you are now YU’s Vice President for University and Community Life and the Dean of Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future. We Jews have long memories. Why else would Jews be on the floor tonight mourning the destruction of the Temple over two thousand years ago? Do you envision a future for Judaism that ignores the recent catastrophic destruction of the innocence of thousands of children.
Rabbi Brander, I urge you to ignore the lawyers and answer to a higher authority. Please acknowledge your mistakes, give an honest accounting of what transpired, apologize for any needless hurt you caused to victims of Richard Andron, accept responsibility for repairing what you can, and promote a future of zero tolerance for abuse.
Please don’t wait until after the last moment when the exposes have piled up and the lawyers tell you an apology will help ease the financial burden of a settlement. Do these things now for the right reasons. Do it for an honest accounting of the Jewish past and for a genuine opening to a better future for our children. If none of these reasons appeal to you, do it to salvage your reputation. But do it.
UPDATE 7-18-13: The Forward reports that members of the Boca Raton Synagogue are asking for explanations for Andron’s role as a youth leader. The Forward also confirms what I wrote about Rabbi Brander knowing about Andron’s history.
Update 10-3-13: Brander is casting about for ways to refurbish his reputation on abuse through PR put out by his proxy/protege, Rabbi Effrem (Effie) Goldberg in BRS and by allying himself with new intiatives on abuse being considered by the Wiesenthal Center.