Rabbi Pinchos Stolper, the founder and first director of the Orthodox Union’s (OU) youth division, NCSY, died earlier this week. There has been all sorts of praise of his deeds with nary a hint that he enabled the molesting of hundreds of teen girls who trusted NCSY. Stolper, was repeatedly told about Rabbi Boruch Lanner’s molesting by victims, parents, and other NCSY staff. He made believe that these allegations were not true. After Stolper retired, the lid was finally blown by Gary Rosenblatt’s articles in the New York Jewish Week. A few years later Lanner was finally tried and convicted of child molesting and sent to jail. Eventually the OU conducted an extensive investigation confirming the allegations. Yet Stolper continued to be treated respectfully in his retirement and they even have an annual award in his name.
It sticks in the craw of every survivor, especially anyone whose complaints were invalidated by Stolper, to see him being praised. I am tired of the arguments about the good outweighing the “lapses.” There is a special evil in these sorts of lapses. It is a moral calculation that imagines one’s work is so important that it should not be inconvenienced by the problems affecting individual kids. They are discarded as roadkill on the way to the kiruv mission. This is moral bankruptcy.
There are all sorts of things that are conveniently ignored. Why not his death just as he ignored the cries for protection. I would have been content not to post this article but for all the praise being heaped on Stolper. But one’s hand gets forced by torrents of gushing celebration of an enabler’s virtue. No one is going to gush in praise of jailed Lanner. But his enabler is just as culpable. So if you insist on accounting his virtues, don’t omit his evil. If you insist on airbrushing his evil then don’t be surprised when the survivor community insists on reminding you.