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Sacrificial Lamm
Wed, 07/10/2013

The news headline of “Norman Lamm Cites Mistakes As He Retires from YU” (July 5) misleadingly implies that he retired because of mistakes he made, even though the text of the article makes it clear that the “mistakes” occurred more than three decades ago.

Rabbi Lamm’s decision to relinquish his remaining titles of chancellor and rosh yeshiva was made three years ago, two and a half years prior to the article by the Forward referring to allegations of activities that occurred when Rabbi Lamm was president of YU.

In fairness, it should also be noted that action was taken in response to the allegations: the high school principal was told he would be fired if he wouldn’t resign promptly at the time; he did resign promptly; the high school teacher was accused of a single incident which was denied and never shown to have been substantiated or repeated.

In context, Rabbi Lamm was then focusing on combating existential threats to YU, facing and successfully fighting off potential bankruptcy. He was not informed of the extent of the allegations and he delegated a vice president to deal with the allegations that had been brought to his attention.

In addition, the climate involving such allegations and procedures to deal with them were quite different three decades ago, and the expectations of how such allegations should be treated were quite different three decades ago. Timing is important; context is even more important.

Kew Gardens, Queens
 

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