Over my many years of day school education I have encountered principals whose behavior I considered to be emotionally abusive. I always wondered why these people were allowed to continue to behave this way in schools that prided themselves on their commitment to Torah and Torah values (“Has The ‘Tough Love’ Rebbe Gone Too Far?” Jan. 27).
These people were, however, pikers compared to Rav Bina, as the exhaustive article by Yedidya Gorsetman and Gary Rosenblatt makes clear. At a time when educational institutions and even the military are seriously examining the problem of bullying, leaders of the Jewish community try to justify this man’s misdeeds. (It is striking if not shocking that not even his defenders deny his behavior.)
What is most shocking is the way in which a guidance counselor at the respected Frisch school seeks to explain away this behavior as “a different way of doing things” and blames “political correctness” for the criticism of the rabbi’s behavior. One must wonder how the individual at Yeshiva University in charge of overseeing these programs could think that the fact that he asked, what he describes as “pointed, tough questions” is sufficient to excuse the actions of a man whose educational philosophy includes humiliation, physical intimidation and emotional abuse.
What kind of professional educators and counselors would trust a man who made it a practice to ask psychologists to violate their patients’ confidence?
That Rav Bina gets flown over to perform weddings proves nothing about his abuse of other students. Cultish and charismatic leaders always have their devotees. Lots of people praised Baruch Lanner and Mordechai Gafni until the truth emerged. Abuse —whether sexual or emotional — should be met with the most forceful opposition.
Instead we once again see people circling the wagons and trying to shift the blame on those who would expose these abusers. Both those who commit these wrongs and those who defend them bring shame upon their community, the ethical belief system they claim to follow and themselves.
Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies Emory University