My Empathy Questions for Richard Joel

YU Pres. Richard Joel &  Pres. Emeritus Norman Lamm

YU Pres. Richard Joel &
Pres. Emeritus Norman Lamm

Richard Joel, imagine the principal of one of your high schools was pressing ham sandwiches against the lips of many students. Would you say the incident should be ignored to protect the reputation of this principal who was clearly suffering from some mental illness? If you fired him or her, would it be OK with you if some other synagogue or orthodox school hired them?

Richard Joel, imagine several physicians in the Albert Einstein medical system systematically and maliciously botched dozens of critical operations over several decades which left their patients permanently disabled. Furthermore, imagine dozens of past and current staff, supervisors and administrators violated their ethical code and looked the other way instead of forcing immediate corrective action. Would you be content to announce, “Henceforth we will behave well but we should avoid talking about what happened?”

Richard Joel, imagine your grandchild was seriously disabled for life because of someone else’s reckless negligence. Imagine the offender could avoid paying a single penny because of some legal loophole. Would the lawyer in you admire the opposing attorney or would you rage against the injustice? Imagine the offending party was a worthwhile not-for-profit institution which claimed paying the settlement would force it to trim back its program budget by one percent. Would that change your reaction? Would your reaction depend on the percent of the budget that was affected? At what percentage would you forgive them for their recalcitrance?

Richard Joel, I know you carry the burden of balancing YU’s budget and expanding its endowment. I know YU is still recovering from its betrayal by Bernie Madoff. I believe you are doing everything in your power to recover some of that loss. Do you feel that the victims of Finkelstein, Gordon, Andron and others have the same moral claim on you as you have on Madoff or do you think their suffering is trivial?

Richard Joel, I am sure you have invoked these words of Hillel on many occasions: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation.” Are you bothered by the thought that you would hate getting the treatment you are dishing out to the victims of sexual abuse at YU? Do you feel you are offering explanations that contradict the “whole Torah?”

Richard Joel, I know that you will participate in the full liturgy of the High Holy Days. Will you be anguished during the recitation of the confession? Will you bask in the glory attributed to those who sustain institutions of learning biemunah (in faith)? Do you believe that the financial interests of YU always coincide with the decisions of a man of faith?

Richard Joel, imagine the three largest contributors to YU entered your office, wrestled you to the ground and rubbed their erect penises against you.  (Pardon me for using this blunt language, but the reality would be that shocking and worse.) Would you say that the incident should be ignored because of pending litigation and the institution’s future? If it was your grandson or granddaughter, would you still take that position? If you took that line, should we continue to respect you as a promoter of Torah values?

See also:

2 thoughts on “My Empathy Questions for Richard Joel

  1. I am wondering how much a full page ad (or two , both sides) with your post in the Jewish Week would cost? Would they accept it? (you might have to euphemize the male organ part. Would Gary print it?

See Commenting policy ( )

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s