The Jewish Daily Forward has for the past 10 months or so been writing that the senior leadership of Yeshiva University, a major institution of Orthodox Judaism in America, covered up sexual abuse for decades. The paper now reports that Yeshiva is in serious financial trouble because of a huge lawsuit abuse victims are filing against it. And the editorial page blasted the university for its recent hire of Akiva Roth, a teacher who in 1997 pled guilty to four counts of lewdness with boys he was preparing for bar mitzvah. From the editorial:
When will Yeshiva University ever learn? When will modern American Orthodoxy’s flagship institution learn to own up to its mistakes, genuinely reform its procedures, live out its values and, above all, provide a safe and honest environment for its students?
The latest revelation, that Y.U. hired a new faculty member who had been convicted of inappropriate sexual behavior with boys, starkly illustrates the gross mismanagement and hypocrisy of the university’s current administration. Here we have an institution reeling from allegations that for decades — decades — its leadership ignored the sexual abuse of students at the hands of at least two of its most prominent staff members. Here we see an institution that covered up the abuse, allowed the offending rabbis to take jobs working with children elsewhere in the Jewish community and, even after the Forward uncovered this sorry and painful story, refused to acknowledge its own complicity and grasp the opportunity to help with the healing process.
Instead, Y.U. spent $2.5 million on an investigative report that its own top officials then sought to largely suppress, emphasizing instead that it is reforming its policies and procedures to prevent abuse and deal with it forthrightly if and when it occurred.
This summer, Norman Lamm, the aged rabbi who led the university and who helped engineer the cover-ups, resigned and asked for forgiveness. A new day dawning at Yeshiva, right? Read on from the editorial:
Richard Joel, who replaced Lamm as Y.U.’s president and was told about the abuse soon after he took office in 2003, said in a statement in August: “Today, the university is a safe place infused with a culture of warmth. For years we have enacted and enforced policies and procedures to protect our students and community members.”
In the case of Akiva Roth, that is blatantly untrue.
What is it with these institutions? Why on earth would you make such an idiotic mistake after all the cruelty and injustice you perpetrated for years on innocent victims stood to mortally wound your institution? G-d bless the Forward for staying on this story.