George Finkelstein's Open Office Door

Yeshiva University High School removed the door of principal accused of abuse, but not the abuser himself.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Editor and Publisher

One of the more telling and unreported aspects of the George Finkelstein situation at Yeshiva University is the fact that at some point during the time he was principal of the high school several decades ago and accused of wrestling with students in his office, the door to his office was removed, according to a number of former students.

Was this the administration’s response to the reports and rumors that he was behaving inappropriately, in a sexually aggressive way, with teenage boys in his charge?

It’s hard to pin down the chronology of the door removal all these years later when former officials are deceased or not responsive to such inquiries, but it’s certainly a powerful statement about the lack of seriousness given to the many stories of Finkelstein’s alleged abuse.

The principal is wrestling with students in his office? Take off the door. End of problem.

But of course, as we see now, the emotional scars abuse victims carry with them can be deep and long lasting.

It’s true that the times were different. What is now described as sexual abuse in an age of mandated reporting was then perceived of, if not openly discussed, by students at MTA (the YU high school) and too many other yeshivas, was annoying behavior by rebbes – Judaic teachers, some of them Holocaust survivors untrained pedagogically and no doubt suffering from their own traumatic experiences.

It could be a slap, a “tzitzis check” under a boy’s shirt, a verbal curse, a grope, or worse. Somehow the students knew among themselves who to watch out for, who to stay away from, but they rarely talked to adults, including their parents, about these situations.

Especially if they saw that the end result of their complaints was to remove the door, not the abuser.

gary@jewishweek.org

Comments

I hope the Jewish Week refrains from additional reporting or comment on this topic. The latest report offered by the Jewish forward hardly convinces me that George Finkelstein is guilty of anything other than poor judgement and having had a warped sense of what might have appealed to teenagers who appeared to be turned-off. Whether 15 adults now suddenly appear to corroborate the allegations of sexual misconduct or 150 claim sexual abuse, it matters little. The events supposedly occurred between twenty-five and forty years ago. There is no evidence and, unfortunately, some of the individuals who are reported to have knowledge are no longer with us. According to the article, the late Rabbi Scheinberg asked an accuser to identify who harmed him and suddenly George Finkelstein appeared. That makes for a great scene in a Hollywood thriller, but it hardly happens that way in real life. Furthermore, I too attended MTA and knew Rabbi Scheinberg. It's not plausible that the very outspoken Rabbi Scheinberg would have merely entered into an argument with George. He would have seen to it that, at a minimum, the charge was investigated and that if George was culpable, his as_ would have been hauled down to the local Washington Heights police precinct. I could go on, but I'm getting extremely agitated - and believe it or not, I was hardly a fan of George.

the Forward is only interested in attacking Orthodox Judaism and using all of you as a ploy. ALL SHOULD STOP COMMENTING AND perhaps this would die out. The students involved are now remembering things that happened in the 60's and 70's AND 80'S . The bottom line is why didnt the parents go to the police. The excuse that they were afraid the children's reputations would be destroyed is ludicrous. I would have taken action immediately. DR. LAMM is being used as a fall guy. It would be best if all involved no longer made comments to the press. Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

MTA was a total madhouse. Finkelstein was a total weirdo who would absolutely do things like hide behind doors and make dramatic intimidating entrances. The obvious fact is that George is a gay man who used his beard as a beard. I know because of things that he did and tried to do with me. MTA provided cover for all kinds of bizarre characters including Meir Schiller who easily spend 1/4 of his talmud shiur teaching racial separatism and woman hatred.

You're not going to find a cum stained dress in his closet, but I can say first hand that the allegations are true. Maybe if 100 of us come forward you'll be willing to take your head out of the sand.

what year was the door allegedly removed? I remember a door until 1990.

Isn't it ironic?Don't you think?These abusive actions are those of a gay man.The assertions made by the Forward are "the Orthodox rabbis" are to blame.Nevertheless,it is a homosexual attraction.A male for younger males.The Forward wants to create a narrative of the Orthodox as a demonic group.They want to create a hysteria.Witch hunt focused on the Orthodox community.

I find it shocking that in this day and age people still confuse homosexuality with pedophilia. Men abusing young boys is pedophilia. it has nothing to do with homosexuality. being a homosexual does not mean you are attracted to or will abuse younger boys. get your heads out of your books. So many members of he orthodox community are living closeted lives but they are not abusing children.

The Forward was unethical in the way they cornered an aging Rabbi Lamm to be interviewed. However, if you doubt the claims against George Finkelstein, I would suggest asking ANYONE who was a teacher or student during the time he was principal. Let's not be "dan l'kaf shtus."

Rabbi
Perhaps you can take a moment to realize there were many victims who have filed these thoughts away for many years and now because of the Forward's article are forced to relive the horrors that they experienced in the 80s. I as one such victim am being forced to relive this nightmare over and over again while the likes of Norman Lamm and Richard Joel do nothing about it. I as the victim, suffer while the likes of people like you question why we didn't go to the police I think as a rabbi doctor you can have or show a little sympathy for the victims here and there are a lot more then 11 or 12.

How many more people need to come forward before you stop being agitated is it one more then consider this to be one more as I was change that I am a victim. Further more until you have been in this circumstance how dare you judge why I and any other of the victims never went to the police. It is people like you who help contribute to this crime

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.