New York

YU Elects Joel President

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Richard Joel seems undaunted by the fact that some of the faculty and lay leadership at Yeshiva University’s rabbinical school opposed his becoming chief executive officer of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, the position he was elected to last week along with president of Yeshiva University. Joel, 52, said his skills for the new posts include “taking institutions where people look askance at my capacities and being able to empower them.

Rav’s Absence Felt As 10th Yahrzeit Nears

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Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, the late leader of the Modern Orthodox movement, was known for, among other qualities, his rigorous scholarship and intellectual honesty. Citing an example of both the other day, Rabbi Kenneth Brander, who now leads a large congregation in Boca Raton, Fla., recalled an incident that took place some two decades ago when he served as one of several personal assistants to the Rav (simply, the Rabbi), as he was widely known.

An Imam’s Dilemma

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Can America’s democratic values accomplish what our military actions and diplomatic efforts have not yet been able to — namely, tame militant Islam? That’s what Feisal Abdul Rauf, imam of the Al-Farah Mosque in Lower Manhattan, is counting on. Considered by many to be a key voice of reason among Muslim leaders here, Abdul Rauf, 54, is confident that American principles and ideals will have a moderating influence on Islam, a religion whose very name instills fear in so many Americans.

Still Waiting For Answers

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There was one brief but telling moment of dramatic confrontation Sunday night between Rabbi Mordechai Willig and one of his critics over his conduct as the lead judge in a 1989 bet din dealing with abuse charges against Rabbi Baruch Lanner.

Lanner Attorney Deplores ‘Guilt By Innuendo’

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Rabbi Baruch Lanner’s attorney this week went public in seeking to portray his client as the victim of an “atmosphere” that fosters a sense of “guilt by innuendo.” In a lengthy letter to The Jewish Week, Nathan Dershowitz of the New York City law firm Dershowitz, Eiger & Adelson sought to distinguish between the criminal charges Rabbi Lanner faced in New Jersey last year and other accusations that have been made against him.

Lanner Bet Din Rabbi Apologizes

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Rabbi Mordechai Willig, speaking for himself and on behalf of a 1989 bet din critics felt was too lenient toward Rabbi Baruch Lanner, has acknowledged the religious court “made errors in judgment and procedure that caused unnecessary pain” and said it accepted “responsibilities for those mistakes.” Rabbi Willig, the highly respected rosh yeshiva, or dean, at Yeshiva University, offered a lengthy and at times personal apology before hundreds of students and others at the bet midrash (study hall) of the school last Wednesday night.

Panel To Hear Charges Against Prominent Rabbi

A panel of rabbinic authorities was scheduled to hear testimony in Brooklyn this week from several former yeshiva students of Rabbi Matis Weinberg, a prominent and charismatic American-born Torah scholar, author and teacher living in Jerusalem who is alleged to have made sexual advances toward them and others, The Jewish Week has learned.

Large Bribe In Get Case?

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In a new twist in a bitterly contested get case, Helen Chayie Sieger has charged in court papers that four Orthodox rabbis received a total of $500,000 in bribes five years ago from her husband to allow him to remarry without a divorce. In January 1998, Chaim Sieger deposited $500,000 in the account of a congregation headed by his longtime friend, Rabbi Yakov Yisrael Meisels of Israel, son-in-law of the late Bobover Rebbe of Brooklyn, according to a motion filed earlier this month in the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court.

Ruskay: Must Do More On Poverty

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A religious court in Jerusalem has taken up the case of sex abuse charges levThe roughly once-in-a-decade UJA-Federation of New York population survey has huge implications for the country’s largest federation in terms of its funding priorities and allocations. John Ruskay, president and CEO of UJA-Federation of New York, sat down with The Jewish Week on Monday, the day the survey was released. Jewish Week: What was the most surprising aspect to you of the new population study?

Where Will Joel Take Yeshiva U.?

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Richard Joel is well aware that on the eve of his being chosen president of Yeshiva University last December, a number of students and rabbis were so opposed to his election that they recited Tehillim (Psalms), a prayerful response to times of crisis and danger. For some, the fact that Joel was not a rabbinic scholar and, moreover, had for years headed Hillel, the Jewish campus organization that celebrates pluralism, signaled an impending revolution for Yeshiva, away from its Torah roots.
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