Right after the news of Rabbi Norman Lamm’s resignation hit the media, there soon came an even more eye opening story out of Yeshiva University. A group of 19 alumni who claim to have been sexually abused by Yeshiva faculty in high school filed a 380 million dollar lawsuit against the institution, and they’re being represented by a capable lawyer who recently won a similar case. This case has already made its way into several reputable newspapers, including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and there’s a strong chance that Yeshiva’s reputation in the broader academic community will suffer as a result.
Although The Beacon is no longer a Yeshiva University publication, it is nevertheless crucial to recognize the impact that the institution continues to have on our community, the Modern Orthodox community. Undoubtedly, Yeshiva University continues to ordain more Modern Orthodox rabbis than any other Rabbinical institution, and nearly all our leadership has ties to it. Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, the former leader and founder of our religious movement, was part of Yeshiva’s faculty.
But while it is important to recognize the importance of YU in the Modern Orthodox world, it is likewise important to hold that institution accountable for its wrongdoings. And the upcoming weeks and months will certainly do just that, as the institution defends itself amid damning accusations.
In the midst of this criticism, we should also see that this time has the potential to be highly constructive for our community. The more that our community is held accountable for our problems, the greater the obligation we have to fix them. And with the special role that Yeshiva plays in our community, this case in particular is uniquely important.
Yeshiva University is still the flagship of Modern Orthodoxy and, despite its shortcomings, it is undoubtedly ahead of many of its Hareidi colleagues on the issues relating to abuse. Richard Joel, the current president of Yeshiva, previously led an investigation for the OU that proved an Orthodox rabbi, Baruch Lanner, guilty of sexual abuse. And based on the current responses that the institution has offered thus far to the accusations, it’s hard to believe that a nefarious cover-up could take place today. We hope therefore that the criticism directed towards Yeshiva should aim to fix the institution, not destroy it.
In the interest of this type of constructive criticism, we’re interested to hear from our readers on the subject, and we welcome all submissions (even if the opinions expressed disagree with the beliefs espoused in this article).
It is for this sort of unadulterated debate that The Beacon was created.