Shande — that is Yiddish for “shame.” Check out the Forward’s most recent installment of what seems to be an ongoing investigation into sexual abuse by two rabbis at the high school run by Yeshiva University. (Here are some others.) It’s Christmas eve, I have to get back to watching TV, and there was no Chinese food tonight, as our local beloved Chinese dive, House of Chao, seems not to know its constituency at all and was closed for the holiday, so here are a few quick points:
• This is a major, major story that has been covered very well by a small newspaper (for which I, full disclosure, often writer, although I had nothing to do with this coverage, and have never met the writers or the editor responsible for it).
• Some of the major names in Orthodoxy are involved. It turns out that longtime Yeshiva University chancellor Norman Lamm knew about some of the abuse and never reported the abuser to the police. Instead, he allowed him to quietly leave and go on to a series of other jobs, including jobs at boys’ schools.
• The current YU president, Richard Joel, issues a pro forma apology, but has been quiet reticent otherwise, refusing interview requests. He is, as it happens, the former head of Hillel, the international organization for college Jewish organizations. In other words, he’s supposed to be all about what’s good for the kids. We’ll see how his internal investigation proceeds.
• One rabbi alleged to have known about some of the abuse but kept quiet is Michael Broyde, a prominent Emory University law professor who also founded an Orthodox synagogue in Atlanta. He is a big deal in the world of Jewish marital law and divorces, and serves as a judge on the Beth Din of America. He was being pushed for the British chief rabbinate by none other than the (now disgraced) Rabbi Norman Lamm. (Broyde didn’t get it.)
• Go re-read the bullet point three points above. Norman Lamm, as longtime president of YU, was to American Orthodoxy what the president of Notre Dame or Georgetown is to American Catholicism. And he shielded a molester. That has not gotten nearly the attention it deserves.