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July 1, 2013 4:25 pm

Yeshiva University Chancellor Resigns, Admits Failure Over Sexual Abuse Cases

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A Yeshiva University campus. Photo: Jim.henderson.

JNS.orgYeshiva University (YU) Chancellor Rabbi Norman Lamm, 85, has stepped down from his position at the university.

The rabbi’s resignation comes several months after The Forward reported on allegations of sexual abuse against two rabbis at Yeshiva University’s High School for Boys that occurred under his watch as President of YU during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

“While I have yet to reach my father’s age, at this moment of transition in accordance with an agreement reached three years ago—as I step down from my positions as Chancellor of Yeshiva University and Rosh Hayeshivah, ending over 60 years of official affiliation with my beloved Yeshiva University as student, faculty member, Rosh Hayeshivah, President, and Chancellor,” Lamm said in a statement.

Lamm indicated in an interview last December that he knew of some of the allegations and chose to deal with them privately. In his resignation letter, Lamm expressed regret over his handling of the sexual abuse allegations.

“At the time that inappropriate actions by individuals at Yeshiva were brought to my attention, I acted in a way that I thought was correct, but which now seems ill conceived,” Lamm said.

“True character requires of me the courage to admit that, despite my best intentions then, I now recognize that I was wrong,” he added.

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  • I believe Rabbi Lamm is the kapurah hin, THE SACRIFICIAL CHICKEN OF YOM Kippur. He is sacrificing everything for the sake of YESHIVA UNIVERSITY. THAT WAS MY INITIAL REACTION WHEN I DEFENDED Y.U. I was wrong. Those molested deserve there day in court. However there are many who need to be punished and dismissed from the board. Rabbi lamm is a brilliant scholar and leader and has sacrificed for the Y.U. He is frail and just lost his daughter. The family should be left alone. To me Rabbi Lamm will also remain Y.U”s savior. rabbi dr. Bernhard ROSENBERG

  • Quixote

    Did Rabbi Lamm’s attitude merely reflect his own personal “ignorance” and the general culture of the times (the defense being offered by various commentators), or did it rather express a vicious institutional callousness, with which he collaborated and which arguably continues today?

    In this regard, it is interesting to observe that YU’s current vice provost, while still the chairman of the NYU Jewish Studies department (a position from which he resigned to assume his current post at YU), testified in a court of law that “nobody reads” the NYU faculty code of conduct. One wonders if this statement reflects the ethical standards and attitudes of YU’s current administration. For further information and commentary, see:

    And see this account of how the same vice provost of YU recently had letters sent to various legal experts, including Eugene Volokh of UCLA, demanding that they remove certain material, apparently critical of him, from their websites:

    Was Rabbi Lamm even aware of these efforts and statements by YU’s vice provost? Does YU’s current president, Benjamin Joel (who is a former prosecutor) support the attitudes they seem to reflect? All of this seems to reflect (at best) an ongoing laxity in ethical standards at YU, and it is hard to see how the “apology” of Dr. Lamm could possibly have any impact on the situation.

  • It is time for healing. Wish this statement would have been made earlier. Sexual abuse of any kind must not be allowed and we can not blame the victim. I TOO had to learn this truth and apologize for not understanding earlier. It was the victims who taught me. Apologies should be made and mechila asked. RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG