I have long admired the courage of The Jewish Week to tackle issues that impact the members of our community. However, I cannot begin to express my disappointment with your recent article about Netiv Aryeh and Rav Bina (“Has The ‘Tough Love’ Rebbe Gone Too Far?” Jan. 27).
The Jewish Week attacked a rosh yeshiva who has dedicated more than 40 years of his life to educating our young men based on the accusation of a student who would not allow you to publicly identify him. This young man did not merely visit a bar on Ben Yehuda Street, as described in your article, but snuck off numerous times and returned to the yeshiva drunk.
He was over 18 at the time, an adult by American legal standards. Rav Bina never struck this young man. You were informed that there were witnesses who would corroborate this, but chose not to speak with Rav Natan Schwartz who was present at the time. Instead The Jewish Week allowed a young man to anonymously attack a man intent on helping him.
The Jewish Week quoted nine unnamed sources who attacked Rav Bina, yet published the comments of just one of the almost dozen letters of support provided to you. The Jewish Week did not interview the New York-based executive director of Netiv Aryeh, but instead quoted the young man’s mother’s account of her conversation with the yeshiva’s executive director.
I do not know what The Jewish Week’s goal was, but it appears you reached a conclusion before beginning your investigation and published a story that is based on hearsay and anonymous accusations. I, like all your readers, expect more from The Jewish Week.
Member of the Board Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh
Editor’s Note: Our report was not based solely on the “accusation of a student,” identified in the article as “Andrew,” but on extensive interviews with a number of students, former students, parents, rabbis and others. We also note that last week, in defending Rav Bina’s actions, one of his most active supporters asserted, presumably based on “checking out the story” with Rav Bina, that “Andrew” was not slapped several times in the face, as charged, but that Rav Bina only “pushed him on the back of the neck” (See Letters, Feb. 3). Now Mr. Packer writes that “Rav Bina never struck this young man.”
We asked “Andrew” to respond. His letter follows: