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Barry Freundel, Yeshiva University Grad and Yeshiva University …

faculty member, brings yet more notoriety to that notorious campus, home of Bernard Madoff, Ezra Merkin, Zygi Wilf, and a whole cast of other conflict-of-interest-mad characters. Yeshiva University has for some time been American academia’s highest-producer when it comes to both sexual and financial scandal, and now, with the ribald rabbi and his radio, the school is definitely maintaining its record.


But then Modern Orthodoxy just seems to roll that way.

If the allegations against Freundel are true, they confirm the worst suspicions about the status of women in Orthodoxy: that the all-male rabbinical clubs support their own members in their efforts to control women’s bodies all the time. Freundel, after all, is suspected of using his authority to grab what he wanted from unsuspecting women.

… The award-winning film “A Tale of a Woman and a Robe,” by the Israeli filmmaker Nurit Jacobs Yinon, painfully demonstrates how the experiences of female converts in the mikvah violate their most basic dignity. Three male rabbis watch every woman dunk in the water, as she is naked except for a robe or sheet separating her skin from the rabbis’ eyes. Some rabbis interviewed in the film — including the Israeli modern Orthodox rabbis David Stav and Beni Lau — admit that this practice is humiliating for women, but describe their own helplessness in changing the practice.

… So did Orthodoxy make Freundel a sex offender? Not directly. But it enabled him. Orthodoxy creates an awfully comfortable place for men with sexist and misogynistic predilections and is built around a tight posse of men willing to support each other no matter what the crime.

Same tight posse of men works the Yeshiva University financial magic.

Margaret Soltan, October 22, 2014 10:09AM
Posted in: conflict of interest, forms of religious experience

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2 Responses to “Barry Freundel, Yeshiva University Grad and Yeshiva University …”

  1. janet Gool Says:

    My sister Sally refuses to describe people like Freundel as “religious” or”Orthodox”. She calls them “ritually observant.” And this story only confirms something we both already knew – a lot of men are ass holes.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    janet: It confirms something else, I think: Boys will be boys, and – as William Golding knew – when boys are left alone to form authoritarian social organizations, you’re going to get secrecy and perversion and eventually a lot of people are going to get hurt. Pick your organization – doesn’t have to be religious.

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