Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Letter Up To Par

Previously: Subpar, Subpar II, Why Post

As a follow up to the situation created by the comments of R' Asher Balanson regarding YU, here is a letter Yeshivat Ohr Yerushalayim (also known as OJ) sent out about it recently. Note that I am an alumnus of OJ, and think very highly of the institution and rabbeim as a whole. I have told a few people I am friendly with in the past few months who asked me questions about specific family members (or themselves) and whether they should go that they should do so. I am going to let the letter OJ sent out speak for itself; any commentary I might have will be posted in the comments if at all.

R' Dovid Schechter was the av bayit in OJ when I was there, and has always had multiple other responsibilities within the yeshiva.
From: Dovid Schechter {removed}
To: {removed}
Sent: Tue, 12 Aug 2008 8:47 am
Subject: (no subject)

Dear Talmidim,

We hope that this note finds you well with your families in the best of health and enjoying your summer.

We are writing, on behalf of the Yeshiva, to address an unfortunate incident that occurred prior to Pesach that indirectly impacted each of you. In a conversation over the internet with a student not from Yeshivat Ohr Yerushalayim, one of our rebbeim wrote highly derogatory comments concerning Yeshiva University. This came as a great shock to us, since in the many years this individual has taught at Yeshivat Ohr Yerushalayim, he has rarely, if ever, communicated any negativism of any sort and certainly not about Yeshiva University. When the Hanhala confronted him, he expressed great remorse over the comments and felt that they came across far harsher than in the context in which they were stated. Since then, he has apologized, in writing, to the administration of Yeshiva University, declaring unequivocally that his comments were "insensitive, untrue and unfounded", and asked forgiveness for the insult to both the administration of Yeshiva University and to the hundreds of his students who have and continue to flourish there. Furthermore, he has since cancelled the weekly emails to former students and closed his web site where those conversations were archived. Our Yeshiva has both personally and by official letters communicated its apology for this unfortunate incident and the great consternation concerning it. Despite the fact that this staff member (ironically himself a YU alumnus) is a truly outstanding Talmid Chochom and an exceptionally gifted Posek who has over the years contributed greatly to the growth of many students, and despite his apologies and the fact that his comments were not made to our students, we nevertheless felt that he had to take responsibility for the damage caused. As such, the Yeshiva has asked him to take a leave of absence for a half year and intends to greatly curtail his level of involvement with our students for the forseeable future. By doing so, we sought to communicate in the clearest manner that we will not tolerate conduct that could, in any way, breach our long standing relationship with Yeshiva University.

We want to make it exceedingly clear to our alumni who attended Yeshiva University, that we completely repudiate the derogatory comments in the email. We offer our unqualified support for Yeshiva University as a L’Chatchila Makom Torah and an institution of higher learning. Indeed, we take the greatest of pride in the hundreds of our alumni whose Torah learning, personal and professional development has thrived under the care provided by Yeshiva University. Our joint alumni are second to none, both in their personal accomplishments and in the enormous level of service and leadership that so many have provided the general Jewish community over the years.

By reaching out to joint alumni and in engaging Yeshiva University directly on the matter, we seek to guarantee that we continue to promote common values and enhance the relationship between the two Torah institutions in a manner that promotes both 'Emet' and 'Shalom' and works towards "Lehagdil Torah U'Leha'adirah".

All the best,

Rabbi Moshe Ch. Sosevsky
Rabbi Shmuel Wagner

Cc: President Richard Joel
Cc: Dr. Hillel Davis
Edited for formatting only.