LET’S GET REAL ABOUT CHANGING STANDARDS AT YU (from the archives 10/30/13)

Yeshiva University is going to be in the news again for mishandling sexual abuse, in this case the rape of a student by a varsity basketball player. Stay tuned for more details. But part of their legal team identified in the suit includes attorney Karen Bitar. This got me thinking of her ridiculous claims regarding the abuse by YU boys’ HS principal, George Finkelstein.

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According to The Forward, yesterday’s hearing on the lawsuit by over thirty former Yeshiva University (YU) High School students focused on the the statute of limitations. YU’s attorney:

Karen Bitar… said she wanted to make clear that “we do not think these allegations are in any way insignificant, unimportant or unserious.” But, Bitar added, the allegations took place at a time “when the [mores] or what was deemed typical or appropriate was much different than what it is today.”

Really? Does Ms. Bitar expect us to believe that at the time it was typical or appropriate for a yeshiva principal to:

take “defenseless boys,” and pin them to the floor, “where they couldn’t move, and proceed to hump them in the backside with an erect penis until he achieved climax.”

Continue reading

YU Sued over Alleged Sex Abuse of George Finkelstein, Macy Gordon, Richard Andron, and Marc Gafni

Over the last 2 weeks Yeshiva University (YU) was hit with two lawsuits made possible by the Child Victims Act which eliminates any Statute of Limitations on lawsuits over Child Sexual Abuse (CSA). Governor Cuomo signed the law on Feb 14, 2019 which included a one year lookback window to cover cases which were previously not legally actionable by victims who were over twenty-two-years old.

One suit involved male victims which was previously dismissed because of the prior short SOL. The revived lawsuit has 5 named victims and 33 John Does and is being reported on by the New York Jewish Week, JTA, the NY Post and others.

Thus far, attention has not been paid by media to another lawsuit naming Yeshiva University and the notorious Marc Gafni (aka Mordechai Winiarz) for abuse by Gafni while he worked for a YU’s Jewish Public School Youth Program. The plaintiff, “Jane Doe” alleges Continue reading

Pelcovitz and Leading Orthodox Rabbis Line Up Behind Sex Offender Evan Zauder (from the Archives of 3/31/14)

Dr. David Pelcovitz remains YU’s resident expert on child sex abuse. Just this evening (5/7/19) he was part of an event for students at YU’s Washington Heights campus. 

Guest Post by David Cheifetz

David Cheifetz

David Cheifetz

David Cheifetz is a resident of Teaneck, New Jersey. He is also the founder of a new non-profit organization, Mi Li – Who Is For Me, designed to educate the Jewish community about sexual abuse of children and provide support to victims and their families.

About a year ago I came forward in the pages of The Jewish Week and shared my experience as a victim of sexual abuse by a senior member of the staff at Camp Dora Golding in 1979. I also had the opportunity to address the annual conference of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) on the topic. In both instances and in other articles and venues, I spoke about the challenge that we face in the Orthodox community regarding a pervasive tolerance of sexual abuse of children.

This is not limited to any corner of the Orthodox community – It exists in the Modern Orthodox world just as it exists in the Ultra-Orthodox world. And while there is a growing recognition of this scourge, there has been little progress in addressing the underlying culture that tolerates abuse and excuses Orthodox pedophiles. Indeed, when someone is accused of abuse, and even found guilty of committing heinous acts of sexual abuse against minors, many communal leaders continue to bend over backwards to show Rachmunus (mercy and empathy) to the perpetrators, and little regard to the victims.

Evan Zauder

Evan Zauder

The terrible phenomenon has been highlighted once again this past week, coinciding with the scheduled sentencing of Evan Zauder. Evan Zauder, was a teacher at the Modern Orthodox Day School Yeshivat Noam located in Paramus New Jersey. Zauder also had a long history of working with Jewish youth, including as a synagogue youth director and participant in numerous youth related programs. In 2012, Zauder was arrested for possessing child pornography, and was subsequently found by the US Government to have distributed child pornography as well. He was also found to have engaged in illicit sexual relationships with underage males that involved graphic discussion, mutual masturbation Continue reading

Good Riddance, YU President Richard Joel; Why wait to 2018?

YU Pres. Richard Joel & Pres. Emeritus Norman Lamm

Richard Joel (L)

Richard Joel, Yeshiva University (YU) president for the last 13 years, just announced his resignation in an email to the entire YU community (full text below). The email does not specify the effective date but states that he is asking the board to form a search committee for a successor. It would be nice if he had specified an effective date.

His announcement was timed to coincide with YU’s losing control of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (due in part to mismanagement and to Joel’s managing to lose $1.3 billion). Fixing YU will depend on getting rid of the board that enabled Joel and was in some cases profiting from the problematic investments. Continue reading

Is Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt a Pervert?

Jonathan Rosenblatt

          Jonathan Rosenblatt

Imagine a young rabbi applying for a pulpit. His resume is impressive. He is a talented scholar, an excellent public speaker and he comes well recommended. His pedigree is very high level. He is the great-grandson of cantor Yossele Rosenblatt and the grandson of Rabbi Samuel Rosenblatt a formidable scholar and pulpit rabbi in Baltimore. His wife is the daughter of Rabbi Dr. Isadore Twersky, the Tolner Rebbe whose wife was the daughter of Rabbi Joseph Dov Soloveitchik, the Rav.

Imagine his cover letter where he describes his approach to mentoring teen boys and young men:

I like to “shvitz bond” with younger males by spending extended periods talking to them while we are both naked. I also like to shower alongside them in the gym having long conversations while we face each other.

I don’t know about you, but I would be freaked out. The guy is a pervert and however impressive his other credentials, he is not fit to be a rabbi. He can deny, dismiss, minimize, and proffer drivel about bonding, athletics and all that. But at the end of the day he has a sick man. He is sexualizing interactions. He is using others for his sexual gratification. When he did it with underage minors he was guilty of child endangerment according to former Manhattan sex crimes chief, Linda Fairstein. Even when he did it with adults, whether or not it was legal, it was an abuse of authority, a perversion of authority.

I am of course talking about Jonathan Rosenblatt, the rabbi of the Riverdale Jewish Center. Even now with the story being covered by the New York Times and the NY Jewish Week, Rosenblatt continues to deny there was anything sexual or improper.

The sad thing is that this conduct was known to his employer for about 25 years and he was allowed to stay on as rabbi.It was known to the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) and he was allowed to continue as long as he confined himself to young males over the age of consent. It was known to Yeshiva University which stopped placing rabbinical interns with him, but did not actively prevent their students from taking on internships on their own.

I have read a lot of back and forth about whether he is a pervert, a creep, a little weird, or totally innocent. Those who defend him speak of all the things he does well. I understand why congregants get attached to the rabbi who nurtured them, buried their dead, counseled them and lead their services all these years.

However, I think such congregants have to ask themselves the question: would you have hired him if his proclivities were stated up front when he applied for the job? If the answer is no, then you also should not allow him to continue as a rabbi.