New York’s Yeshiva University has condemned one of its senior professors of rabbinic studies for his offensive remarks about “schvartzes”, made at a recent conference of United Synagogue rabbis in London.
Rabbi Hershel Schachter —speaking about mesirah, Jews informing on the crimes of other Jews — warned that in the United States, prisons might “put you in a cell together with a schvartze, with a Muslim, a black Muslim, who wants to kill all the Jews”.
That, he warned, might be mesirah, “because you’re punished more than the law requires”. The taped remarks were posted on the website FailedMessiah, which reports Orthodox scandals.
A spokesperson for Yeshiva University said: “The recent use of a derogatory racial term and negative characterisations of African-Americans and Muslims, by a member of the faculty, are inappropriate, offensive and do not represent the values and mission of Yeshiva University.”
Rabbi Schachter also made controversial remarks about the child abuse scandal that rocked Yeshiva University High School last year. He appeared to pin some of the blame on one of the victims for not reporting the abuse to the school counsellor.
The rabbi also discussed the controversial practice of metzitzah b’peh, orogential suction following brit milah. He claimed 15 babies die from it each year in New York because they contract herpes.
His assertion directly contradicts a 2012 study by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, which found only two baby deaths resulting from a metzitzah b’peh-caused herpes infection between 2000 and 2011. Rabbi Schachter was unavailable for comment.
His London talk was recorded by the US Rabbinical Council and circulated to members but its appearance on FailedMessiah remains unexplained.