Letter from a parent to President Joel
October 30, 2013
Dear President Joel,
Three of my children are current or former YU students. As a YU parent, I am embarrassed, outraged, and ashamed at the manner in which the scandal at the high school has been handled.
I am not the only member of the Modern Orthodox community who is upset about this.
I got a call a few weeks ago from a friend whose daughter is a junior at the Ida Crown Jewish Academy, the high school which all of my daughters attended. She told me that due to the scandal, she and her husband have eliminated Stern from consideration as a possible destination for their daughter. She was surprised that we were not planning to transfer our daughter. I believe they are considering Brandeis and Maryland as alternatives.
It should never have come to the point where a lawsuit had to be filed. I'm sure you read the article "Sexual Abuse in Institutions of Education" by Mordechai Twersky (http://thebeaconmag.com/2012/02/opinions/sexual-abuse-in-institutions-of-education), which appeared in The Beacon on February 6, 2012, very shortly after it appeared. I have a very simple question for you:
What efforts, if any, were made to reach out to Mr. Twersky after that time but before the first article appeared in The Forward in December? Based on my experience with survivors of sex abuse (as a layman, not a professional), most survivors are looking for validation and assistance with therapy costs, not a huge payday. If no efforts whatsoever were made, I think that is a huge failure on the part of the YU administration.
In any case, there is an obligation under Halacha, which does not have a statute of limitations, to pay for the cure of an injured person. In my opinion, YU has a moral obligation in that regard, which will not disappear even if the courts find that the statute of limitations prevents a lawsuit. This email is being blind copied to over one hundred people, survivors, advocates, and others interested in these issues, with whom I regularly share information. I hope that at least some of them will write to you to express their views on this matter.
P.S. In addition to being a YU parent, I spend much of my time outside of my paid job working on behalf of survivors of child sexual abuse in the Orthodox community. For example, along with Vivian Skolnick PhD (grandmother of Rabbi Yaakov Weiner BRGS '12), I helped organize two programs in Chicago, including the first public appearance by Judy Brown, author of Hush (https://archive.org/details/Nefesh-Chicago-20-Nov-2011-Video). I am also a member of the Board of Advisors of Tzedek, an organization based in Australia which works on these issues (http://www.tzedek.org.au/about/our-people/board-of-advisors).