Special Needs Education


While I empathize with Sarina Roffe’s plight (“Heroic Efforts Needed To Change Special Needs Stereotype,” Opinion, Feb. 3), I found it disappointing that she did not detail what these heroic efforts might be. She also appeared to be perpetuating the stereotype that children with special needs cannot receive a quality mainstream yeshiva education. Today, there are many organizations and institutions in New York and beyond that make it possible for children with a wide variety of special needs to receive a Jewish education alongside their non-disabled peers.

Jewish Law Is Clear


If it’s true that Rav Bina publicly shames certain students whom he believes he needs to discipline, the issue is clear: time and again Jewish law forbids public humiliation — no ifs, ands or buts. See Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman’s scholarly but accessible book, “The Right and the Good, Halakhah and Human Relations.” The first chapter: “Emotional Homicide: Embarrassing Others.” Amazing. How Joseph, the Egyptian viceroy held back from shaming his brothers who either sold him into slavery or left him for dead. 

Tough Love Is Not Abuse


Where do we draw the line between healthy tough love and verbal abuse? Was Rav Bina’s approach, perhaps, a misguided one?

I am torn.

My tendency is to empathize with the victims and feel pained by the stories I’ve heard and the experiences that I myself had to endure when things were less-than-sunny in mine and Rav Bina’s interesting relationship. But I trusted him. I did then. I do now.

And this has made all the difference.

Disheartening, But Not Shocking


The reaction to your coverage of the reported abuse by Rav Aharon Bina was disheartening, although sadly not shocking. The pattern of students standing by their perceived infallibility of their “rebbe” is all too familiar. Since when do good deeds excuse bad ones? I don’t care how many lives he “saved.”

Did Baruch Lanner and Jerry Sandusky abuse every child they met?

Willing To Overlook


The article concerning Rabbi Bina was quite disturbing. Not because of his actions, but because unfortunately, this is a common experience in our yeshivas. What was really upsetting was the reactions and comments of prominent rabbis and educators who admitted they were aware of Rabbi Bina’s actions but were willing to overlook his abusive behavior because of the good he does. I wonder whether they would have a different attitude if Rabbi Bina sexually abused his students instead of mentally and verbally abusing them.


Smiling With Rav Bina


Rav Bina abused other boys, and I smiled as hard as I could, trying to show him that I was his friend. Rav Bina said in shiur [class] that the only good homosexual is a dead homosexual, that the Skokie Yeshiva has killed more Jewish souls than the Holocaust, and to one boy he said, “God hates you,” and I smiled as hard as I could, praying that he would not pick on me next.

Rav Bina threw my friend Eli out of yeshiva in the first month just to show us he was boss, and I stood by and smiled as hard as I could so that I would not be next.

Hatchet Job


I am a former student of Yeshivat HaKotel and am writing to express my disgust at the hatchet job your newspaper perpetrated against Rabbi Aharon Bina (“Has The ‘Tough Love’ Rebbe Gone Too Far?” Jan. 27).

Visit Efrat


In your article, “Mission Accomplished, Ecumenically” (Feb. 3), Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch is to be commended for his interfaith trip to Israel, and in doing so has changed many attitudes toward Jews and Israel. I just wish that he would also visit Efrat and other well-established Jewish towns in the West Bank to try to give his guests a balanced approach to what some people call an occupation.

I know he is against the settlements but in the true nature of democracy, giving a chance to those he doesn’t agree with would make him more enlightening.

Sign Of Bigotry


David Sable used the Beit Shemesh fiasco as an opportunity to lash out viciously against other Jews in his article, “Stop Enabling Our Jewish Fanatics”(Opinion, Jan. 20).

First of all, the worst sign of bigotry is to lump everyone together and to tar them with the same brush. As a Jew, Sable should be aware that this has been done too many times in the course of our history with terrible results.

Reaching High School Students


In his recent writings about Jewish teens, Len Saxe has suggested that based on the work of Amy Sales, “we need big ideas that can be implemented and evaluated … and have the reach of a mega-program, such as Taglit-Birthright Israel” (“Engaging Jewish Teens Through A Jewish Service Corps,” Opinion, Dec. 30). 

The outstanding record of accomplishment in terms of outreach and retention by Jewish Student Union (JSU) high school clubs showcases unprecedented level of engagement. It’s a big idea that’s working.

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