Yeshiva University president apologizes for '70s and '80s molest allegations

By Reuven Blau and Rachel Monahan (Ny Daily News)
December 13, 2012

The president of Yeshiva University apologized Thursday over allegations two rabbis at the college’s high school campus abused boys in the late 1970s and early ’80s.

Yeshiva was repeatedly notified that a Talmud teacher, Rabbi Macy Gordon, and a former principal, Rabbi George Finkelstein, abused students, alums of the High School for Boys told the Jewish newspaper the Forward.

University President Richard Joel stopped short of confirming the allegations but called the abuse described in published reports “heinous and inexcusable.”

“The thought that such behavior could have occurred at our boys’ high school, or anywhere at this institution, at any time in its past, is more than sufficient reason to express on behalf of the University, my deepest, most profound apology,” he wrote in a letter posted on the Yeshiva website.

But the apology did not placate Mordechai Twerksy, who attended the upper Manhattan school from 1977 to 1981 and said he was moved to write about the abuse after the Penn State scandal broke.

“Joel’s so-called ‘profound regret’ is hollow,” he said in an email to the Daily News.

Norman Lamm, president of the Orthodox Jewish institution from 1976 to 2003, denied he’d heard allegations against Gordon. He acknowledged Finkelstein was forced out over inappropriate wrestling with students.

Lamm acknowledged he allowed alleged abusers to leave rather than reporting allegations to police.

“If it was an open-and-shut case, I just let [the staff member] go quietly,” he told the Forward.

One student told the Forward that in 1980 when he was 16, Gordon sodomized him with a toothbrush. Finkelstein, students told the Forward, wrestled students to the ground, rubbing his crotch against them.

Twersky said he’d raised the alarms over the abuse repeatedly with administrators over the years, including with Joel in 2002.

“It well-known among students that Finkelstein ‘wrestled’ with students,” he said.University officials would not comment on what actions they will take to address the past abuse pending an investigation.

Gordon and Finkelstein denied the allegations when contacted by the Forward.