When I was in mesivta (high school) several of us loved reciting this nonsense verse:
Being clever yeshiva boys we went to work resolving the inconsistencies. It could be bright during midnight at the North Pole during the longest day in the summer. The dead can get up if resurrected. If resurrected with their heads in the wrong direction, they can face each other, back to back. Guns disguised as knives can shoot. The deaf can “hear” shootings by feeling the vibrations.
But we knew it was a game and the poem was truly full of contradictions. That’s what made it funny. A rabbinic court ruling (psak), laced with contradictions is no laughing matter. Yet that is what we have.
We are talking about incidents that… occurred 5772 [2011-2012] (the year Binas Beis Yaakov opened) and on… We are talking about a handful of incidents each year
After going through the material before us, it is difficult to shake the feeling that there were red flags and troubling signs, and the administration should have known and sensed what was going on under its own nose… It is difficult to establish that with certainty, and even if you say it is true, how can we know and decide if it was at the level of negligence or near negligence or less than that – but to leave it at nothing is impossible.
Therefore it seems that we must make do with the continuation of the arrangements that were agreed upon by the administration in Kislev of this year. According to [these arrangements], some of the positions and responsibility will be transferred temporarily to another party. As well, supervision and guidance by Mrs. Birnbaum will be increased. These arrangements will be in effect until the start of the school year of 5777 [Fall 2016]. [bolding in the original]
The judges acknowledge multiple episodes of abuse complete with “red flags and troubling signs” that Mrs. Ullman “should have known and sensed” was “going on under” her “own nose.” Yet they dispute that this was negligence. Well actually they kvetch, “how can we know and decide.” I thought deciding was their job.
In the end, they settle on a vague set of sanctions with two parts to last until fall, 2016. Some of Ullman’s “positions and responsibility will be transferred… to another party” and “supervision and guidance by Mrs. Birnbaum will be increased.”
I don’t know about you. I could not certify the safety of a school whose administrator has to be on probation because they were either too stupid or too indifferent to discern, detect and stop multiple episodes of sexual abuse of students by staff. Yet that is what they did when the released the first part of this ruling in December when they wrote, “There is no danger or problem in sending students to study in these seminaries.”
The members of the Chicago Beis Din believe she is under tight control and will eventually be forced out. But is that true? Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn posted a letter on his Daas Torah blog from a mother of student now attending Ullman’s seminary, Binas. She writes:
I periodically ask my daughter if anything has come up this year and she says no. I ask if Mrs. Ullman is in charge and she says yes. What that tells me is that if there was a “punishment” it is sure not one that anyone sees and thus would not be effective as such.”
We have students and parents who cannot discern any transfer of Mrs. Ullman’s positions and responsibility.
So who are you going to believe, a Beis Din that promised some sanctions against Mrs. Ullman or parents and students who are convinced that Ullman is faultless and retains full authority?