The Forward and YU are Colluding in Claiming Rabbi Norman Lamm is Mentally Competent

Rabbi Norman Lamm  (2007 by folksonomy)

Rabbi Norman Lamm (2007 by folksonomy)

As of two years ago Rabbi Norman Lamm was already suffering from a progressive dementia so severe that he sometimes went for hours without recognizing anyone. On his better days he was able to conduct conversations but his colleagues could tell he was a shadow of his former self. His current state is a far cry from his days as the brilliant President of YU from 1976 to 2002.

In 1993 Lamm also became the Rosh Yeshiva (Yeshiva Head) of YU’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) after the death of Rabbi Joseph Dov Soloveitchik. When Lamm retired as president, his replacement, Richard Joel, a lay lawyer, was not considered as Rosh Yeshiva. The YU board rejected Rabbi Hershel Schachter, an extraordinary rabbinical scholar who was prone to gaffes (e.g., inflammatory statements about race). Instead the board extended Lamm’s appointment as Rosh Yeshiva. Because finding an acceptable replacement was a political minefield they continued Lamm’s appointment even after they knew about his deteriorating mental status.

On December 13, the Forward’s Paul Berger, Jane Eisner, and Larry Cohler-Esses  reported, “Lamm says he let alleged high school abuser leave quietly.” The reference to Lamm drew on a December 7th interview in which he is reported to have said:

If it was an open-and-shut case, I just let [the staff member] go quietly. It was not our intention or position to destroy a person without further inquiry…… My question was not whether to report to police but to ask the person to leave the job…… When [the wrestling] came up, [Finkelstein] had decided to leave because he knew we were going to ask him to leave…… The responsibility of a school in hiring someone is to check with the previous job. No one checked with me about George.

The quotes by Lamm instantly turned a story about abuse at YU into a narrative about a callous hierarchy shuffling molesters from one job to another like the Catholic Church.

YU insiders were furious at the Forward for “ambushing” Lamm. They believed the Forward knew Lamm’s condition because it was common knowledge in modern orthodox circles. They may have been mistaken.

I believe the Forward is poorly informed about most of the orthodox world. Their coverage of the sex abuse trial of Nechemaya Weberman trial was the worst of any secular publication. They got snookered by a cub freelancer, Batya Ungar-Sargon, who uncritically parroted the Satmar line about a trial and sentencing being biased against Hasidim.

When the story about Lamm was published, people reached out to the Forward and told them about his condition. Having been advised, the Forward should have conducted its own inquiry and admitted they erred in interviewing and quoting Lamm, a man no longer capable of informed consent. They could have done all that while still standing by the rest of their story.

Since the Forward never acknowledged Lamm’s diminished mental status, YU was now free to extend the deception that Lamm was mentally fit. They proceeded to use his resignation at the end of his three year contract to blunt the damage to their image inflicted by a regular series of articles in the Forward about abuse at YU.

On June 30,, 2013, six months after the story appeared, YU released a twenty-one-paragraph resignation letter purportedly written by Rabbi Lamm which had four paragraphs devoted to the abuse scandal. There was a disclaimer early in the letter: “Conditions have caused me to rely on help from my family in writing this letter.” The paragraphs pertaining to the abuse scandal were written by his family and the rest had been written by Lamm about five years ago, but this was not disclosed to the public.

The next day, Shmarya Rosenberg reported on Failed Messiah, “When Lamm was quoted by the Forward late last year about abuse at YU’s high school, he already had dementia, and the Forward was told this very clearly by several sources. Yet the Forward chose to use those quotes without disclosing how impaired Lamm was.”

The Forward, like most print publications, doesn’t usually respond to attacks by bloggers, least of all Shmarya Rosenberg, who often attacks them for unethical conduct. But this criticism stung because they knew many other people were saying the same thing. Two days later, Paul Berger replied:

I have been accused of knowingly taking advantage of a man with a deteriorating mental state…… Prior to my interview with Lamm, I was unaware of rumors that Lamm …… [was] ill…… I did what any reporter would do. I looked up Lamm’s address and, one morning, I showed up at his apartment door. I told Lamm who I was…… No trickery was involved. I simply sat in front of Lamm and took down notes as he explained the reason for his actions and his regret. Under such circumstances, is there any reason for a reporter not to report that? (Emphasis added by YL).

The Forward’s account allows for the possibility that Lamm is mentally diminished while denying that Berger knew this prior to publishing the story. This conveniently sidesteps any responsibility to issue a correction. By characterizing the reports of dementia as “rumors,” this article cleverly places the onus on YU to prove otherwise.  Internal modern orthodox grousing is irrelevant to the Forward because they are not an important part of their funding base or readership.

However, the Forward may be angling for an award for its otherwise excellent series and is worried that the charge of unethical conduct could take it out of the running. I suspect the Forward wanted to rejoinder the criticism for a while, but was now confident that they wouldn’t be challenged by YU or Lamm’s family. They found it convenient to focus on Shmarya Rosenberg, a controversial blogger, instead of naming their most active critics, informed YU insiders.

Shmarya Rosenberg fired back on July 4th, now insisting that the Forward knew about Lamm’s condition before the interview. I am an agnostic about whether the Forward knew about Lamm’s condition before the interview or afterward. Either way, at some point they knew. They failed ethically, either in intentionally conducting an interview with a man not competent enough to give his informed consent or in not issuing a correction conceding that the interview was obtained without proper informed consent.

By now there is a whole secondary literature of opinion pieces drawing on Lamm’s original statements to the Forward and Lamm’s resignation letter. Most articles and posts admire Lamm’s abject contrition and feel it mitigates or even transcends YU’s earlier failures. Others take umbrage at the letter as self-pitying and self-serving in ascribing YU’s conduct to misplaced compassion for the abusers and misplaced confidence in their ability to mend their ways. The critics believe that YU’s conduct was primarily or significantly motivated by the need to protect the reputation of the institution.

This debate is worth having, but not in the context of the resignation letter. Lamm is beyond the stage of being able to speak to these issues. He should be judged on his past conduct alone.

Until now, I avoided talking about Rabbi Lamm’s dementia for two contradictory reasons. I was reluctant to dwell on a shortcoming of the Forward’s reporting because I was convinced that almost everything else they said about YU was true. I was also squeamish about subjecting Lamm to an embarrassing report about his mental decline.

I was wrong on both counts. There is no more shame in dementia at the end of life than in being sexually abused as a child. Sooner or later all of us depend on the honor and compassion of others to protect us from exploitation.

Ronald Reagan got it right when he bid adieu to public life admitting, “I have… Alzheimer’s Disease… I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life.”

In spite of YU’s resentment over the lawsuit filed by Mordechai Twersky, Barry Singer and seventeen others, YU has been given a gift, an opportunity, albeit late and under pressure, to do the right thing. I call it a gift because these survivors have paid thrice, first in the abuse, than in the frustrating attempt to work within the system, and now in going public with more potentially embarassing details of their abuse and their subsequent problems in life. They deserve a lot of credit for overcoming their shame, the very thing that made it possible for this cover-up to go on for so many years. I wish Rabbi Lamm’s colleagues and caretakers had done the same for him.


35 thoughts on “The Forward and YU are Colluding in Claiming Rabbi Norman Lamm is Mentally Competent

  1. Has the dementia progressed that much? I am confused as to the best of my recollection an advertisement was brought to my attention a few months back for a kosher Pesach vacation at a hotel that featured Rabbi Lamm as the scholar-in-residence.

    Regardless, Rabbi Lamm is an evil man. About a decade ago, he attacked an advocate for survivors in writing and condemned the practice of publicizing allegations of abuse without a criminal conviction. I now realize that this was to cover up his own behavior (and that of YU and other affiliated institutions and his colleagues) in protecting the child molesters with his (their) silence.

  2. I am puzzled about an ad for pesach this year. Even two years ago, predicting his ability to function well enough would have been difficult that far in advance. I imagine on his better days, even a diminished Rabbi Lamm would have been able to offer more than many a mediocre speaker especially since this sort of talk draws on long term memory which is last thing to go in Alzheimer’s if that is the source of his dementia.

    PS- I really need a way to get in touch with you privately.

  3. the whole issue is a non-issue when he was with all his faculties he failed the survivors and sacrificed them on the altar of torah umada and the whole letter of resignation is of zero significance if itwasa product of YU’s pr or of his family the cover up continues until the lawsuit will be decided and you a write he obituary for torah umada btw the mishna says yofe torah im derch eretz ad not torah umada because it is not fofeh

  4. I’m sorry. I don’t see the foul here on the part of the Forward. Rabbi Lamm seems to have accurately described the events that transpired nearly 30 years earlier. It is an acknowledged fact that George Finkelstein was (belatedly) dismissed and that he went on to continue as an educator.

    The implicit claim of those attacking Paul Berger for interviewing Lamm is that had Lamm been of sound mind, there would have been no story — because being of sound mind, Lamm would have lied and continued the cover up.

    In that scenario, YU might have come off looking better, the Forward might not have had the quote needed to hang its story, and the lawsuit would not have had a basis.

    But do “defenders” of YU really want to be claim that Lamm would have lied were he mentally competent?

    • Larry,

      If this case goes to trial, nothing he said in that interview will be admissible, even if there were a recording (which there isn’t according to Paul Berger) and even if he had a consent inform signed by Rabbi Lamm saying he agreed to have the interview be on the record, and even if it can be established that the report in the Forward accurately reflected the content of his exchange. Statements by a man in his condition are almost never acceptable in court as evidence. In discovery, and in an actual trial I am guessing most folks from YU will answer questions honestly. Of course that remains to be seen.

      The strength of the lawsuit as it relates to Rabbi Lamm lies in his statements and actions during the years before his decline and many other sorts of evidence. The inclusion of the Lamm “interview” doubtlessly heightened attention to the case and made the claims by the survivors more credible, but it is of no legal relevance. But the Forward’s presentation of Lamm as competent also made it possible for YU to then distribute the retirement speech. While you and I are critical of it, I have seen a lot more favorable columns than unfavorable ones about that speech. You can thank the Forward for that bandwagon. The Forward also damaged the credibility of their reporting that is otherwise quite accurate and damning.

      Larry, you are probably right that had Rabbi Lamm been of sound mind he would not have said these things. More likely than lying he would have followed the line laid down by YU’s lawyers and refused to be interviewed. That is what every other person in YU did when they were approached for an interview. YU has “lawyered up.” I think they have made a foolish choice, totally apart from the moral issue. The Bond ratings agencies also think they were foolish because they have damaged themselves in the eyes of potential donors. But that is a separate issue.

      It is possible that what he said to Berger reflected his thoughts to the end. It is also possible that his views changed over time before the onset of his dementia but in the interview he reverted to earlier views. If he has Alzheimer’s, as a number of people claim, there is a pattern of older memories enduring while more recent thoughts are less accessible.

      Our society accords people rights, not just to protect the guilty but mostly to protect the innocent. Do you want your older relative who is mentally incapacitated to be exploited by a reporter to disclose a long since repaired moral breach, or held to a contract to buy a grossly overpriced condo in Florida, or convicted of some crime he didnt even committ but mistakenly admitted to a policeman who bullied him into talking.

      Larry, I hope you realize that I have unambiguously been on the side of anti-abuse activists in this case, and many others, over my last four years of blogging. Even in this case I feel more was lost than gained by the forward’s failure to come clean.

      Larry, please step back and ask yourself if you really want to dismantle every protection for the incapacitated. Protections dont work if anyone can decide, he is bad, so he doesn’t get it.

  5. Legally, unless the relatives had gone to court to put him under legal guardianship — and no such claim has been made — any contract Rabbi Lamm signed to buy swamp land from Paul Berger would be legally binding. Were that the case, whoever was watching over Lamm would be morally culpable for letting him answer the door.

    Morally, Lamm told the truth. Morally, one is generally obligated to tell the truth. I find that a far more moral course of action than the “no comments” that I have received from Y.U. employees in the past.

    The fact is, there is nothing in shameful in what Lamm said. There is only something shameful in what he did three decades ago — and as he accurately said, the rules were different then.

    Also, I’m not sure that it’s fair to call it “a long since repaired moral breach.” As David Cheifetz has pointed out on this blog, the moral breaches of tolerance toward child abuse and thinking oneself a better judge than the legal system continues within precincts of Centrist Orthodoxy. In signing his apology, Lamm at least laid down a moral marker in what continues to be a war within Orthodoxy.

    • Larry, when I replied to your last comment I recognized your name but could not remember from what. Now I do remember your excellent long post about Taubes and you going afield to get the absurd OU claim that Belsky is merely their posek. I intent to fisk that in a future post. If you are not aware, check out my previous posts on Belsky/Kolko/OU/Dratch/Goldin/Genack. Than you for your article. It is a valuable contribution to a necessary discussion.

      Now on to your comment:

      1. We have no idea whether or not either Rabbi Lamm himself ceded control a few years ago or whether it was accomplished in some other legal matter. Larry I am not a lawyer but I suspect you are wrong about all contracts being enforceable unless there is a court ordered guardianship. Are you certain about that, under NYS law? Any lawyers with expertise in this area reading the exchange, please chime in.

      2. There are two parts to what Lamm said (assuming accuracy of Berger’s reporting). There is descriptions of what what done then. I believe he said the truth because it is completely consistent with information from other sources. He also expressed opinions and justifications. Larry, you are certain he never had a second thought, a regret, a genuine feeling that he should have done it differently and if faced with the same situation he would act differently. That may be true. But we do not know. As I said before, in Alzheimer’s which is the most likely diagnosis just because it is the most common dementia, the most competent expressions are things furthest in the past. So I just don’t know if what was obtained in the interview is the most correct representation of where his thinking ended up before the dementia set in. It is possible that his retirement statement written by his relatives is a close approximation of his last thoughts while still competent. That statement is a mixed bag but it is somewhat different from what appeared in the Forward.

      3. I agree that YU’s response has been awful. It has consisted of seven months of stonewalling, lukewarm statements, and a promise of a report with no clarity of how full or open it will be. I am afraid that Joel might try to repeat the ou commission stunt of not naming those who covered up. We dont really need a report to confirm that Finkelstein, Gordon and Andron were molesters.

      4. I agree that the greater disgrace is in what was done than in admitting it.

      5. I did not and would not say that YU’s misconduct is a “long since repaired moral breach” I was providing an example about a hypothetical relative with dementia, with a hypothetical “repaired moral breach” which can be anything. It could be a relative who who embezzled when he was 25, paid it back and was honest from then for the next 60 years. Interviewed in a state of dementia they could put themselves at a disadvantage with an unethical reporter who exploited them to expose them to embarassement needlessly. I was not arguing that Lamm’s misconduct had been repaired. Far from that as is clear in about a dozen of my posts since December.

      6. You write, “In signing his apology, Lamm at least laid down a moral marker in what continues to be a war within Orthodoxy.” I agree that the resignation statement was a moral marker only if it is authentically his. Otherwise it is meaningless.

      7. Putting aside our other disagreements do you think I was wrong to expose the dementia? Do you doubt the reports of his dementia? Have you not heard about them?

      • Regarding Rabbi Belsky as posek: There’s a related and connected question of how the halachic torch was passed from Rav Soloveitchik in the 1980s. What was the Rav’s halachic role at the OU and the RCA? How did Rabbis Schechter and Belsky come to acquire their present role? Were their others who functioned as poskim in the middle?

        • Those are great question which I dont know the answer. The central pivot for almost thirty years is R. Menachem Genack.I know Belsky has been an OU posek from before the eighties or even late 70s if i recall directly. I don’t know about the Rav’s role at the OU. As a Brisker he usually avoided functioning as a posek except in his role as rav for his own kehilla (and I am guessing Maimonides school). But these are all things i will need to confirm.

  6. The first I heard about Rabbi Lamm having any dementia was when I read it on Failed Messiah. Though I don’t claim to be deeply connected to any “modern Orthodox circles”; that’s why I read blogs. Until the Forward brought him back into the news, Rabbi Lamm played no role in any conversations I had about present-day YU affairs.

    I understand why people close to YU would want to deflect the conversation. However, how can a school justify paying someone a tremendous six figure salary if he is no longer deemed capable of carrying on simple conversations? If Paul Berger had found Lamm on on a sickbed, struggling to get out his words, it might have been immoral to press him. Instead, he found someone articulate able to conduct an hour-long interview.

    Now, there has been recently published research showing that the elderly are increasingly prone to be overly trusting, making them easy prey to scammers and, therefore, reporters. Lamm could have indeed fallen prey to that failing. However, to have induced honesty from a rabbi in a moment of weakness is hardly a great sin.

    True, writer Janet Malcolm has argued that “Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible.” However, given the track record three decades of abuse in the Orthodox community, I’ll take the morals of a Susan Rosenbluth or a Gary Rosenblatt or a Paul Berger over those of the cream of the Orthodox rabbinate.

    • @yudel: “However, given the track record three decades of abuse in the Orthodox community, I’ll take the morals of a Susan Rosenbluth or a Gary Rosenblatt or a Paul Berger over those of the cream of the Orthodox rabbinate.”

      In 1987, in the aftermath of Baruch Lanner’s knife attack on Jonah Hiller, Susan Rosenbluth announced, in her publication, her intention to publish a full expose on Lanner’s abuse in the following issue. She was then threatened by the rabbis of the Rabbinical Council of Bergen County (RCBC) that if she dared to publish the story, then the RCBC would rescind the kashrut certifications of any food establishment that advertised in her periodical. Rosenbluth capitulated to the threats, and even published a pathetic “excuse” article instead, assuring the public that the issue was no longer relevant, since it had been taken care of by the responsible and trustworthy rabbis of NCSY and the RCBC.

      On that day, Rosenbluth forfeited the title “journalist”. Her name does not belong in the same sentence with Rosenblatt and Berger.

      It makes no sense to “take the morals of a Susan Rosenbluth… over those of the cream of the Orthodox rabbinate”, since Rosenbluth took her moral dictation from that same “cream of the Orthodox rabbinate”, and became its mouthpiece.

      • I am no fan of the bulk of Susan Rosenbluth’s coverage, but I find her claim to be a victim of rabbinic bullying to be plausible. Assuming her account of events is accurate, her morals in acquiescing to rabbinic bullying are higher than those of the rabbis who bullied her.

        That’s why I feel guilty when I eat at or shop at establishments certified as “kosher” by the RCBC.

        Ultimately, those who have the luxury of writing ‘shem shamayim — e.g. Shmrayahu Rosenberg — are able to act on a higher moral level than those of us who write l’shem parnasa. c.f. Pirkei Avot on crowns and shovels.

        • Susan (“Susie Smear”) is a bully. At best, she sold out the children of her community to a violent child abuser for the almighty dollar (something she doesn’t even need thanks to her husband Dr. “Richie Rich”).

          >her morals in acquiescing to rabbinic bullying are higher than those of the rabbis who bullied

          So the morals of a wealthy woman with her own Jewish publication who backs down in protecting the children of her community from a violent abuser of children (which she acknowledges she knew) are higher than the Rabbis who threatened to cut off her advertising revenue, which she could have lived without. Good to know. Any other idiocy for us?

          >That’s why I feel guilty when I eat at or shop at establishments

          You should feel guilty for being part of the problem not for what you eat.

        • Susan Rosenbluth is not a journalist. She publishes a rag filled with innuendo, lies, and rechilus, particularly when it comes to local Teaneck politics. She may have been a victim of RCBC bullying 25+ years ago. But by not protesting her behavior, the RCBC tacitly endorses her bi-yearly chillul hashem around local election time.

        • I don’t know anything about Susan Rosenbluth. I do know a fair amount about Aaron, Mordechai and Shalom Tendler. Mordechai was ejected from the Rabbinical Council of America for conduct unbecoming a rabbi (or some such language). They were referring to his multiple sexual encounters with women in his congregation and his attempts to extort sex from women who he was assisting in securing a divorce. Aaron was kicked out of a teaching job in LA and a synagogue job because of multiple sexual encounters with underage girls and adult women including married women. It is a sad saga for two grandchildren of R. Moshe Feinstein, but facts are facts. I have read the links provided by jewishwhistleblower and they are consistent with what I know. Based on that including a correspondence between Susan Rosenbluth and a Tendler victim I have to conclude that either Susan is consciously protecting a known molester or she is dumber than a door knob. Either way, she is not credible on this issue.

          I cannot evaluate the truth of Susan’s claims about her reasons for not publicly publishing about Lanner’s child sex abuse before the Jewish Week published in 2000. However, the fact is she has no established record of addressing the issue, whatever her reasons and she clearly has a record of trying to disparage and bully someone who said she was a victim of Aaron Tendler. She is clearly an Aaron Tendler defender, a lousy credential for someone who claims to care about abuse. It would be one thing if she said she didn’t have enough information to evaluate claims either way. But she was clearly pushing the Tendler party line.

          I go with jewishwhistleblower who calls her Susie Smear.

        • >Ultimately, those who have the luxury of writing ‘shem shamayim — e.g. Shmrayahu
          >Rosenberg — are able to act on a higher moral level than those of us who write l’shem
          >parnasa. c.f. Pirkei Avot on crowns and shovels.

          So much for Jewish Journalism. Here’s one Jewish “journalist” who admits what many of us already know.

  7. I agree with the criticism of exec salaries in all sorts of institutions, especially people paid off to leave or no longer capable of performing.

    It is not clear how coherent R. Lamm was. Supposedly, Berger talked for about an hour and we were given about 50 words of quotes and about a hundred words of paraphrases. An hour’s worth of conversation is easily over 5,000 words. A confused man could easily be gotten to say the wrong thing on the 5th iteration with leading. I don’t know about Janet Malcolm’s broad dictum, but certainly a lot of journalistic interviewing is a mixture of badgering and trying to shape a narrative to reflect the angle of the reporter whatever the intent of the interviewee.

    You contrast a man struggling on a sick bed to Rabbi Lamm. But mental disability can be very real even without someone being on a sick bed.

    You write: “However, given the track record three decades of abuse in the Orthodox community, I’ll take the morals of a Susan Rosenbluth or a Gary Rosenblatt or a Paul Berger over those of the cream of the Orthodox rabbinate” I dont know Susan Rosenbluth other than the story about fighting to write about Lanner and having the ad revenue of a newspaper threatened. I do know Gary Rosenblatt’s work and I admire and respect it. I do not believe Gary would have done that interview.

    I don’t feel we have to choose between problematic rabbis and problematic journalists. In fact as i argued, the two complemented each other nicely, with the Forward’s story about Lamm giving YU cover for its resignation letter. As I also argued, the Forward had a great persuasive story. In the end, juicing it up with the Lamm interview may damage the credibility of other very true parts of the story. I maintain that YU got a major crisis recovery bump from the resignation speech. On of my motives in writing the piece was visceral. I just couldnt stand reading all the articles claiming that YU had shown its moral stuff in the speech.

    • Gary Rosenblatt is a respected journalist. Susan Rosenbluth is a yellow journalist. Please don’t mention them in the same paragraph.

      • Oh, I see someone else has made a similar comment above. My evaluation of Susan Rosenbluth has nothing to do with the Baruch Lanner story (I was unaware of her involvement in it), but is based on 25+ years of exposure to the garbage she prints.

  8. Well, on another note, I just heard that disgraced rep Anthony(‘s) Weiner is now moving into Montoya Circle.

  9. I don’t have time to deal with all the nonsense posted by Larry (BFF of Yori Yanover) Yuselson who was caught several years back by journalist/blogger Steven I. Weiss of the Jewish Channel sockpuppeting my identity in an unprofessional and inappropriate attempt to make me look bad.

    Susan Rosenbluth (“Susie Smear”) is a former associate of Yudelson and Yanover. Rosenbluth is no friend of survivors. Google her smear pieces involving Rabbis Aron and Mordecai Tendler. Rosenblth has named alleged sex abuse survivors’ names/families’ names in her publication when she has unilaterlay decided that she does not believe them. Rosenbluth killed the Lanner story a decade before the Jewish Week expose because she says her advertising revenues were being threatened by unamed Rabbis in NJ. Rosenbluth is married to wealthy Dr. (“Richie Rich”) so whydid this alleged financial threat have any effect? She has smeared Rabbi Blau numerous times in her publication.

    Gary Rosenblatt went soft on Rabbi Gafni in part due to his friendship with Rabbi/moron Saul Berman. I was dealing with one of Gary’s mentors several years back trying to get him to do an investigation/story about convicted/confessed pedophile Rabbi Lipa/Lewis Brenner, something you will never see from Yudelson or any of his collegues in NJ. Gary’s mentor without my consent sent my material and correaspondence to Gary. Gary advised that it was his arbitrary policy not to do stories that did not have recent allegations (like most of the Catholic Church reporting and the current YU scandal reporting). I reminded him that the Rabbi Lanner story had no recent allegations until after his reporting.

    Yudelson once contacted Rabbi Blau while Rabbi Blau was sitting shiva in order to get an email response so Yudelson could smear an anti-abuse activist. Yudelson of course did not give Rabbi Blau a full picture of the issue which involved Yori Yanover’s outrageous posted comments about Rabbi Blau and his family. I sent Rabbi Blau a copy of all of Yanover’s posts along with the Yudelson post using Rabbi Blau’s reponse to smear the integrity of an anti-abuse activist. Rabbi Blau was forced while sitting shiva to respond further to Yudelson. Yudelson simply removed his post. No apology to the anti-abuse activist, no retraction or apology for the incorrest post and no apology to Rabbi Blau for using him while he was sitting shiva.

    So basically, Yudelson can spell integrity. Tha’t about it.

    Yudelson wrote this piece in response to my reporting on a Rabbi Hershy Worch supporter:

    This supporter’s daughter wrote the outrageous defence of convicted child molester Rabbi Weberman in the Forward another Sargon-Ungar family friend wrote a similar piece in the Jewish Press online version (run by Yori Yanover see also: )

    Not to mention, Yudelson allowed his friend Yanover to promote Rabbi Hershey Worch in the forward to Yanover’s book published by Yudelson. Google Rabbi Worch.

    Years ago I was advised that Yudelson was in contact with several of my associates warning that I should apologize to his friend Yanover and take down my reporting as otherwise my identity would be revealed otherwise. Yanover and Rabbi Harlan Kilstein (internet marketing guru see: were apparently investigating my identity. Kilstein had put a price on my head as reflected in ads in news publications and hired a former police officer to investigate me. A few days later an anonymous smear website went up with a photoshopped picture of the father of a victim of rabbinical child abuse who had committed suicide. The website smeared the father and his late son. I of course was not this person. I sent Steven I. Weiss material several years back as to the identity of the person (an associate of Yudelson) who put the website up along with evidence of same. I’m sure you had no idea Yudelson.

    • Please note Harlin Kilstein, a rather good manipulator and is still working.
      I have not caught him posting on any of the blogs I read.
      In his posts Kilstein uses linguistic techniques that fly right by people.
      He posted, useing these techniques when he and his crew were actively harassing an abuse activist who is a friend of mine.
      Unfortunately for him I had the same teacher so I picked it up in his writing. It was more then trigger words. Just saw a YouTube video he apparently made recently. He was using the techniques all the time. What he uses when speaking is far more than trigger words…………

  10. “YU insiders were furious at the Forward for ‘ambushing’ Lamm. They believed the Forward knew Lamm’s condition because it was common knowledge in modern orthodox circles.”

    For the record, I have long been suspected by many of being Modern Orthodox, but I have never heard a single rumor about Norman Lamm being senile, severely or otherwise, until I read it this month on FailedMessiah, and now here. Since I have seen absolutely no substantive evidence for this claim, nor any personal testimony to that effect from anyone who would know, I have no idea whether it is true, and I certainly do not accept it as fact. For all I know, Yeshiva University fabricated the claim as a means of mitigating the damage caused by Lamm’s candid statements in the interview. I certainly wouldn’t put such a duplicitous strategy past them; and contrary to you, I believe that YU faces worse damage in a scenario where Lamm is perceived as lucid, than an scenario in which he is perceived otherwise.

    “The quotes by Lamm instantly turned a story about abuse at YU into a narrative about a callous hierarchy shuffling molesters from one job to another like the Catholic Church.”

    No, it didn’t. The YU story was ALREADY about a callous hierarchy shuffling molesters from one job to another like the Catholic Church. That’s why Finkelstein suddenly disappeared from MTA, and then resurfaced in a Florida school, and then later in Jerusalem’s Great Synagogue. Ditto for Andron. Lamm’s statements in the interview only serve to confirm and underscore YU’s “molester shuffling”.

    • The reality of YU’s conduct was like the Catholic Church. But it was not a NEWS STORY until the Forward put it out. Lamm’s quotes make the Forward’s claims more credible. That is why they included Lamm’s name in the original headline.

      Perhaps, I should have changed my wording from “known in Modern Orthodox Circles” to “known in Upper West Side and YU insider circles.” Point is that within days of the story breaking in the Forward several MOs who spoke to folks on the UWS said things like, he has alzheimers, he hardly leaves his house to go to shul, he doesnt recognize his old assistant rabbi, etc. If you are MO and decently active and networked, call around to folks in on the UWS or YU admin (excluding secular parts). See if you can find anyone who saw him give a public talk of consequence in the last year. See if you know someone who saw him looking anything but very frail? Then get back to me. i would be particularly impressed if you can find a single recorded live speech he gave in the last year. And mind you we are talking about one of the most gifted MO orators of his generation.

  11. I find absolutely no justification whatsoever for the attacks, here and elsewhere, on Paul Berger and the Forward for their interview with Norman Lamm.

    In December 2012, when Berger did the interview, Lamm was the Chancellor of Yeshiva University. He was not a former Chancellor; he was the actual, current, serving Chancellor. It is perfectly reasonable and proper for a journalist to interview the Chancellor of a university about the goings-on, past or present, in his institution. Period. There is nothing unethical about that in the slightest.

    If it is indeed true that Lamm was suffering from advanced dementia (and again, I do NOT know whether that was true), then the ONLY ethical fault lies not with Berger and the Forward, but rather with Yeshiva University, for putting forward an incapacitated man to the public as their Chancellor.

    The Forward did absolutely nothing wrong by interviewing YU’s chosen, serving Chancellor about what went on at YU’s high school, and his involvement in it. Quite the contrary. Nor do I see any objective reason to disbelieve Berger’s statement that “nothing in our conversation led me to believe that he was suffering from dementia (his recall was clear, his arguments cogent)”. If, in fact, he was suffering from dementia, then the fault for what happened lies entirely with YU.

    • Moshe, Your are responding to my article AS IF I WROTE: ‘it was wrong for a reporter to interview the chancellor and rosh yeshiva of RIETS.”

      My article allowed for the possibility that he had no idea of the dementia up to and through the interview. My article does not criticize him for conducting the interview.

      I am saying that even Berger’s own defense suggests he got info after the interview telling him about the dementia. He does not attempt to deny that in fact Lamm was a man with dementia. This suggests that he has in fact concluded that Lamm has dementia. If so, looking back, he should realize that even if he was right at the time, in retrospect it was a violation of journalistic ethics to interview and report him. It follows that there should have been some retraction or disclaimer.

      And yes, YU perpetrated fraud in retaining him in that position, something for which I attack YU. Are you saying that being unethical is zero sum, that if YU is unethical than the Forward must be innocent of the same? Are you saying that it is OK to be unethical if the other side is unethical? To me, we all have a large stake in the credibility of the Forward’s allegations about YU. I fear that they are damaging the cause of holding YU accountable. For example, notice that the Forward was unable to report that the Lamm resignation speech was a sham, a PR stunt. Doesn’t it bother you that the Forward compromised its ability to call that fraud because they colluded in it?

  12. @Moshe-Back to the present. There is a mother on this blog that says she is a member of BRS. She is claiming that she told ‘Rabbi’ Goldberg some time ago about a member of BRS that allegedly molested her sons. Is anybody going to focus on the present-tense and current failures of the ‘leadership’ of BRS now, today?? She has written that her lawsuit is/has been filed!!

    I personally have documents in my possession of other fraud involving people in this community. It’s enormous amounts of money. I don’t pretend to be a whistleblower, but when are these crimes going to stop? They poison the entire community, especially those of us that do not partake in this criminal behavior. We are supposed to be, “a light unto the nations”? Bullshit.

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