My Empathy Questions for Richard Joel

YU Pres. Richard Joel &  Pres. Emeritus Norman Lamm

YU Pres. Richard Joel &
Pres. Emeritus Norman Lamm

From the Frum Follies archives 9/3/13. Still pertinent.

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:

8 thoughts on “My Empathy Questions for Richard Joel

  1. Well put. Orthodox Judaism (and beyond) needs a thorough cleaning-out, a flushing out of the filth of centuries of abuse and the effects of misplaced priorities.

    • You have to remember that Richard Joel was part of the Lanner/OU/NCSY cover up. Operating under rabbinical orders, the main Lanner report/findings were not made public (only a summary) nor were the names of those that protected/enabled Lanner within NCSY/OU. A few of the more prominent protectors/enablers were quietly removed the majority were shifted to new positions in the organization.

      • Many of the enablers are still in prominent communal positions – leadership roles in NCYI, for example.

  2. YU cares about YU … Agudah cares about Agudah … NCYI cares about — you get the idea.

    Nobody cares about the innocent victims – of evil — except Hashem — and let’s be honest: who among the leaders of jewish institutions really cares about Hashem or what Hashem thinks of all this.

  3. If you have no scandals to report on, there is nothing wrong with not posting. I don’t see why you are constantly reposting old material over and over again.

    • You also haven’t liked my new scandals.

      I have many new readers who are not familiar with my old posts. I only re-post stuff I consider still relevant. YU is still refusing to acknowledge their culpability in courts, just in the last two weeks.

      Faulkner, iirc: “The past is never dead; it is not even past.”

  4. Yerachmiel Lopin — don’t apologize for your blunt language. It’s nowhere near as bad as the harsh reality of the sexual abuse itself and its aftermath, and since many are unaware of this fact, bluntness is necessary for education and protection purposes. What has this world come to…that there are individuals who are offended by the use of graphic LANGUAGE but not by the obscene ACTIONS described by said language?! Shocking people into awareness has become necessary, like you eloquently wrote in your “The Limits of Polite Talk” post (link below). Keep doing your holy work, Yerachmiel.

  5. I read that the Court of Appeals upheld summary judgment, accepting the argument somehow should have surmised that YU was trying to cover up sexual abuse and hence should have brought suit many years ago.

    Big victory for YU, which has probably shelled out over $100,000 to the law frum that argued this case

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