I once thought that the problem of frequent ethical lapses in the haredi community could be solved by exposure to higher secular education. By this I mean a little time spent seriously learning the wisdom of secular society – economics, science, math, humanities, civics, history, etc. – might cause haredim to develop a respect for American culture and values now largely lacking in their world.
I was wrong.
If you count haredi-founded and run Touro College as "higher secular education," that is.
For you see, Touro College has done an abominable thing:
…Yehoshua Balkany, an eminent leader in Jewish education and a tenacious advocate for Jews and Israel, received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. Founder and dean of Bais Yaakov of Brooklyn, where he has served for the past 37years, Rabbi Balkany recently completed a five-volume commentary on the Chumash, to be published next year. Among his many achievements is the securing of $154 million from the New York Voucher Fund for 28 yeshivos.…
Rabbi Milton (Yehoshua) Balkany:
1. Stole a federal grant intended to help disabled students. The grant totaled almost $1 million dollars. The feds traced much of the money to personal and business accounts of Balkany family members, including some in Israel.
2. Was accused of charging fees (taking bribes) for procuring favors for inmates in federal prisons and was barred from entry (as a chaplain or free man, not as an inmate) to all federal prisons.
3. Lost a case in beit din (religious court) but refused to pay the judgement.
4. Is known in much of the New York press either as "Robbie" (as opposed to "Rabbi") or as "The Brooklyn Bundler," the latter because he infamously bundled large numbers of campaign contributions together and personally "delivered" them.
5. Threatened to have an Orthodox aide to a sitting US Senator excommunicated after the aide wrote memos complaining about Balkany's heavy-handed efforts to compel Israeli government officials to use U.S. aid money to fund projects Balkany favored in Israel.
6. In his role as Aaron Rubashkin's elder son-in-law, Balkany threatened Uri L'Tzedek in what one source familiar with the meeting called "classic mafia style." (In fairness to Touro, this happened three weeks after it gave Balkany his Honorary Doctorate. Still, it does show that Balkany was not visably changed by the honor.)
In haredism, which Touro panders to, money talks, morality walks. And there is no better proof of that than Touro College awarding an honorary doctorate to the ethically challenged thug known as the Brooklyn Bundler.