Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Lamm and Joe Paterno

December 17, 2012 8:46 am 26 comments

A Yeshiva University campus. Photo: Jim.henderson.

As CEO of 5WPR, a leading public relations firm and one whose children attend Jewish Modern Orthodox day schools I am cognizant and concerned over the repeated negative portrayal of so-called “religious” Jews in the media. Religious Jews should be seen for all the good they do in the world and for society – and not be associated with the smut which dominates headlines.

Religious people also have a responsibility to act accordingly, and in the case of the recently revealed Yeshiva University child abuse scandal, steps must be taken to hold all guilty parties to task.

In response to allegations that two staff members at the High School for Boys’ Manhattan campus sexually abused students, Rabbi Norman Lamm, who was President of YU at the time of these incidents (and is now Chancellor) has admitted that the school permitted the accused to leave YU and go on to teach other children elsewhere. (In one instance a suspected abuser went on to serve as dean of a Florida Jewish school.)

As Joe Paterno was fired from Penn State University for turning a blind eye to sexual abuse and child molestation, so too must Lamm immediately be terminated for his despicable behavior in turning a blind eye to the heinous crime of child abuse.

Lamm  said in a public statement that he didn’t notify police of these acts and “This was before things of this sort had attained a certain notoriety.” Rabbi: child molestation has always “had a certain notoriety.”

Perhaps on the heels of this revelation and the rightful indictment of Satmar counselor Nechemya Weberman for the repeated rape of a young girl, the religious community should look inward and examine if morals, ethics and decency should be a more primary focus in yeshivas.  Yes, bad apples exist in any community – but I am aghast at the lack of leadership from the Orthodox world in challenging bad people.

Why do many Orthodox leaders not speak out on these vital issues affecting the safety of children. Some rabbis don’t hesitate to pontificate about the dangers of the internet, or Rabbi Avi Weiss’ Yeshiva and any number of perceived threats to the community – which are clearly far less important than the matter of kids being assaulted.

Joe Paterno turned a blind eye and was rightfully fired from his position – is Rabbi Lamm’s turning a blind eye to these issues any different? YU needs to begin the healing process by firing Lamm and launching a proper investigation.

Ronn Torossian is a philanthropist and proud Jew.

26 Comments

  • wakeupamerica

    YU had more despicable crimes committed by its leadership against its students during it former president Lam’s tenure. The triple horns ..
    Lawsuits against YU as an institution would only hurt the current students and would reform no one.. More should be extracted straight out of its crooked former leadership.

  • Meanwhile, YU vice provost Lawrence Schiffman has emerged as the leading candidate for the vacant chancellorship:

    http://votelawrenceschiffman.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/will-professor-lawrence-schiffman-become-the-next-chancellor-of-yeshiva-university/

  • Many of us are very proud graduates of numerous schools of Yeshiva University. These comments are made by people who either have no allegiance to the school or have probably never attended. Schools such as Einstein medical school, Wurzweiler school of social work, Cardoza Law school, Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Azrieli, Revel as well as Yeshiva College and the various Religious divisions of YU including REITS and JSS have provided leaders in all fields of the worldwide Jewish and general community. Attacking Yeshiva University in the Forward on an almost daily basis is a wonderful way to sell newspapers. While there are some who have legitimate accusations, there will be many seeking merely to sue for the sake of making money. Stop blaming the entire Orthodox Jewish world for the deeds of a few. RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

  • now thousands will come forward to cash in. follow the money . rabbi rosenberg Submitted by Rolly Sass (not verified) on Sun, 12/30/2012 – 14:13. IN THE JEWISH WEEK

    I am tired of this crybaby stuff.Rabbi DR. BERNHARD Rosenberg is telling a truth people cannot handle.It is one thing to deal with a powerless child.It is another for middle aged men to hide behind a veil of anonymity and cry “victim”.There parents were not children.They knew what was going on.How many even pulled their kids out of YU?You mean to tell me that they knew but let their children remain.Gordon and Finklestein should be held responsible.But where were the parents and why didn’t they act?

  • Driving to teach Public Speaking at Yeshiva College this past wednesday I received a call stating that the speech department is closing at YU. I was the first speech major at Yeshiva College in 1969 and together with Dr. Abraham Tauber of Blessed memory created the first speech department at Yeshiva College. I have taught at Yeshiva College in the 70′s, 80′s and in the last 4 years. What is not working at Yeshiva College? Why is enrollment down? Why are students unhappy and leaving? According to my observations, shiurim are too large and Rebbes are unable to develop close relationships with students. How much do the administrators and officers make? You would be astonished. Why fire talented adjuncts while keeping full teachers who are not evaluated and cannot teach? Consider the YU nepotism which gives untalented people jobs. There seem to be a lot of people running around doing nothing and getting paid. The cafeteria food is terrible and costs too much. Students are overworked with religious requirements which make it impossible to devote enough time to secular work. This has to be reevaluated. Finally, where is the YU spirit of Torah Umada? Where is our pride?
    We are not Harvard, Yale, or Columbia. Let us be YU. A college without art, music, speech, drama, is not even an advanced high school.
    Rabbi DR. Bernhard Rosenberg

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8F8BZHn8De8

    • There are rumors/allegations that allegedly David Luchins is being investigated (not sure for what). If anyone has any information, they are urged to call the NY US Attorney General’s Office in Albany. Once again, he is not being accused of any crime.Please call.

  • So far there is an anonymous accusation against Rabbi Macy Gordon

    MY SOURCE TELLS ME MR. ANONYMOUS GRADUATED EINSTEIN. MEDICAL SCHOOL OF YESHIA UNIVERSITY SEEMS LIKE HE OWES Y.U. HIS CAREER. YESHIVA UNIVERSITY is the school where I spent most of of academic life. Do not lecture me on what I owe or do not. For your information, RIETS and .J.S.S. made be who I am. I will fight for the school that produced rabbis that cared for me and nutured me. It is not my fault that parents who knew of these acts did nothing including showing up in mass to punish the individual who did malice to their child. Do not lecture me on sexual violence. Where were the parents who knew. ? Stop whining and trying to destroy Yeshiva University and have Rabbi Lamm resign. He did what was proper at the time. Prove that Rabbi GORDON molested anyone. The story about the toothbrush is ludicrous. I have had my own issues with the R..C.A. AND Y.U. , but I did not wake up 35 years later to realize I was molested. Go to ISRAEL AND CONFRONT these abusers , they are still alive. I call upon current students and alumni to speak up on behalf of their school. I FOR ONE HAVE HEARD ENOUGH UNPROVEN ALLEGATIONS THAT HAVE RUINED TWO LIVES. DO NOR RESPOUND SHAME ON YOU OR I DO NOT UNDERSTAND SEX ABUSE. I understand if this happened to my child and I knew of it I WOULD HAVE CALLED FRIENDS and made sure the culprit never did this to any child again. Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

  • So far there is an anonymous accusation against Rabbi Macy Gordon

    MY SOURCE TELLS ME MR. ANONYMOUS GRADUATED EINSTEIN. MEDICAL SCHOOL OF YESHIA UNIVERSITY SEEMS LIKE HE OWES Y.U. HIS CAREER.. RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

  • So far there is an anonymous accusation against Rabbi Macy Gordon . The accuser should come forward. Regarding being afraid to tell parents I know that some parents were informed by their children. Instead of remaining silent out of fear for their children’s reputation they should have spoken out. I grew up in the Midwest and attended an elementary school where anti Semitism was rampant. There were only two Jewish children in the school; because we were poor we lived in that neighhborhood. Being beaten up because I was Jewish and fighting back was a common occurrence. I knew how to fight back and would have fought against anyone who molested me. Yeshiva students have to be taught to physically protect themselves against abuse.
    Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

  • . IF any former student has proof and would like to share it with someone who cares for students send it to me at Chaimdov@aol.com. I am not afraid to fight for you or make these charges public if they are valid. Ask any of my former students at Y.U. in Public Speaking about me. I care deeply for Yeshiva University and want to help . Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

  • Having been both a student and teacher at Yeshiva University during these years, I pose one question: Why didn’t the parents of these students call the police. If it was my child I would have confronted these instructors and gone to the police and administration immediately and hired a lawyer. Had any of these students approached me when I was a young teacher of speech at Yeshiva College and told me of this I would have acted with vigor. Yeshiva University is a great institution. Let’s not forget that many of today’s Jewish leaders are products of YU. It is good that this horrendous part of the history of Yeshiva University has gone public so the individuals can find some degree of justice and peace. We are all awaiting Yeshiva University’s response. It is still a great institution with fantastic teachers and Rebbaim.
    Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

  • the Forward is only interested in attacking Orthodox Judaism and using all of you as a ploy. ALL SHOULD STOP COMMENTING AND perhaps this would die out. The students involved are now remembering things that happened in the 60′s and 70′s AND 80′S . D. The bottom line is why didnt the parents go to the police. The excuse that they were afraid the children’s reputations would be destroyed is ludicrous. I would have taken action immediately. DR. LAMM is being used as a fall guy. It would be best if all invilved no longer made comments to the press. Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

  • IF IT WAS MY CHILD, I WOULD HAVE CALLED THE POLICE. RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

  • December 20, 2012
    4:26 pm

    What I do not understand is why parents did not beat up these rabbis if they had the proof and their child suffered. . If it was my child I WOULD HAVE GONE INTO HIS OFFICE AND BEATEN THEM UP. I would go to Israel now and punch them out. RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

  • What I do not understand is why parents did not beat up these rabbis if they had the proof and their child suffered. . If it was my child I WOULD HAVE GONE INTO HIS OFFICE AND BEATEN THEM UP. I would go to Israel now and punch them out. RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

  • Why not investigate Rabbis who are members of the RCA who committed adultery and financial crimes . I was told by a past placement director of YU that I could not get a Mechitzah shul after serving in a conservative shul (at YU’s behest) and should drive a cab. My wife and I were told by a past president of the RCA that we should “burn in hell” for being in a non Mechitzah shul. In addition the shidduchim of my children would be destroyed. I went public (see YU Commentator articles). Three of my four children are already married and have frum households. _Regarding the current YU situation, face up to it, hire a private investigator and make it public. _Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

  • Ronn Torossian has curiously decided to make it his business to run around the internet and post rambling condemnations of Rabbi Lamm. In each of his multiple posts, on multiple websites, Torossian rehashes the same thing – Rabbi Lamm’s actions are similar to those of Joe Paterno, Yeshiva University should fire him and have a proper investigation. Oh, and he makes sure, of course, to inform us that he runs a PR firm.

    First off, I find it comical that Torossian is so ready to condemn and calls for the University to take punitive action against Rabbi Lamm before the “proper investigation” he calls for has even taken place. Indeed, at this stage, we are talking about only allegations – there has been not a single conviction, indeed not even a threatened action! Talk about putting the cart before the horse! And, at that, on the subject of the Jewish values, Torossian so self-righteously trumpets, what ever happened to “innocent until proven guilty”?

    Second, the comparison to Joe Paterno is completely fallacious – for multiple reasons:

    * Again, sexual abuse actually took place in the Sandusky case – here, there are only unsubstantiated allegations.
    * In their substance, the allegations in the Sandusky case were very clearly sexual (sex in the shower); here, they were more unclear (wrestling – even the father of one of the victims “didn’t know what to make of it”).
    * The Sandusky case happened thirty years after those that happened here; attitudes in how to deal with such issues were dramatically different.
    * Sandusky was an assistant coach on Paterno’s relatively small football team; the two administrators in question were relative small fries in a small part of the institution (MTA, which YU contemplating closing in the 1990′s) that Rabbi Lamm oversaw – one with thousands of students, administrators and faculty, and multiple campuses and graduate schools.
    * Most fundamentally, Paterno took no action and kept Sandusky on staff; Rabbi Lamm pushed these two individuals out.

    While I am cognizant of “Not attacking the messenger,” in light of the Torossian’s almost inexplicable rash of postings across multiple blogs, I do think that there is something else at play here. In each posting, Torossian curiously makes a point of prominently name-dropping the public relations firm that he runs. Which makes one wonder, is this really an attempt by Torossian to add to our communal dialogue – which he utterly fails to do – or to shamelessly capitalize on a saucy communal scandal to self-promote himself and his business? His multiple postings suggest the latter. And, one must say, in an age where people will do the most desperate and despicable things to self-promote and get noticed, to so non-judiciously bash someone else to do it would probably make even Kim Kardashian grimace.

    • Shame on Yigal Gross for defending someone who turned a blind eye to child molestors. Is he concerned that his firm Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP will devalue his degree? The proof in what Lamm did wrong is in how own words.

  • Not to mitigate the seriousness of these allegations, but are the two cases really the same? If I’m not mistaken, Sandusky was caught raping a boy in the shower (one of many he sodomized, apparently). Here, the allegations against one rabbi mainly focus on (very) inappropriate wrestling and hte far more serious allegation regarding the other rabbi is a single unsubstantiated claim and it’s not clear that allegation was ever brought to Lamm’s attention at any point in time. I’m not saying more shouldn’t have been done at YU, but I’m not buying this comparison.

  • Shame on Yeshiva University. What happens if it was Lamm’s kids who were molested.

  • “Joe Paterno turned a blind eye and was rightfully fired from his position” … this is a patently false statement.

    The fact is that Joe Paterno notified the supervisor of the campus police and his immediate supervisor, the day after receiving 2nd-hand allegations of wrongdoing by Sandusky, from Mike McQueary (so therefore, did not “turn a blind eye”).

    While Joe was indeed fired, it remains to be seen whether it was done wrongly or rightly, as Joe has not been afforded any kind of due process, either while he was living, or posthumously (nor has he been afforded innocence, until proven guilty). Both of these tenants are important cornerstones of American life.

    Shame on you, Ronn, for perpetuating non-factual information and presuming guilt before due process.

  • all I have heard is heresay which would never hold up in court. Use real names and give dates, time and place. So far two reputations have been ruined and where is the solid proof, witnesses, pictures, RECORDINGS, anything. THIS WILL NEVER GO TO COURT THERE IS . SO FAR THERE IS A LOT OF HERESAY AND NO REAL PROOF. Dr. Lamm is a hero at Y.U. He saved Y.U. THERE were others who should have handled the alleged sexual issues. Where are they and who are they? Rabbi DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

    • Bernhard

      Finkelstein was very careful to perpetrate these actions in the privacy of his office or apartment (though I’m sure his wife Freeda witnessed some things), and never removed his clothes. Additionally there was no opportunity to bring in recording devices as these inappropriate wrestling sessions often occurred spontaneously.

      We do however have plenty of first-hand account WITNESSES of inappropriate behavior, myself among them. While most of my friends and family have heard my tales of woe regarding MTA staff and experiences, I hadn’t said anything in a public forum simply because no one cared. NOW people seem to care and now perhaps maybe some action will be taken, but at the very least the truth will be known, even if those responsible for such reprehensible and anti-Jewish behavior may not ever be held accountable.

  • Lamm Not a fair or logical comparison to Paterno, who was just a football coach. Paterno reported McQueary’s vague allegations to his superiors to 2001.

    Lamm was the President so had far more responsibility. Did Lamm report the abuse to his superior as Paterno did?

  • Many take for granted that Paterno turned a blind eye to a pedophile beginning with the 1998 investigation of Sandusky.

    I have three questions regarding Paterno’s guilt. Any factual answers are greatly appreciated.

    If Paterno knew about the 1998 investigation of Sandusky:

    1) Who broke Pennsylvania state law to inform Paterno about the investigation?

    2) What grounds did Paterno have for terminating Sandusky in 1998 given police investigators and two child services organizations [incorrectly] exonerated Sandusky.

    3) One of the very few charges Sandusky was acquitted of was the 2002 shower incident Mike McQueary reported. Is Paterno guilty of covering up a non-crime by reporting it up his chain of command and involving the VP in charge of University Police?

  • Very powerful. The man is right. Where is the Jewish community ? Lamm’s actions may in fact be more despicable than those of Paterno – where is the Jewish community ?

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