I’m beginning to think there’s something in the water in Rockland County NY.
Once again, we have yet nother Orthodox Jew holding a prominent position finding himself in yet another sex scandal. This time, YU grad and Assemblyman Ryan Karben has been accused of inappropriate behavior allegedly making passes as male interns. Since Ryan is resigning from office – in his words to focus on his law firm and family – this story will probably go away rather quickly.1
You’re probably aware of the Rabbi Tendler scandal so there’s no need to go into that here. However, you may not be aware or remember the case of Kenny Gribetz, the former Rockland County D.A. who was caught embezzling public funds to have an illicit affair.2
I’m finding it very disconcerting that Orthodox Jews have such a hard time keeping out of political scandals. Maybe it’s the nature of politics, where life is thoroughly adversarial and moral compromises are routine. Maybe it’s the allure of power and the corresponding ego boost which leads to moral corruption. Then again, maybe the problem is not that widespread and that we are just dealing with individuals with character flaws.
In an odd way, the modern cynicism toward politics and religion is advantageous in that the scandals do not become a “Jewish” issue.3 Sadly these things happen so often it’s getting harder to be shocked and in a few days this should blow over in the mainstream media. Thank goodness for the small things.
1. On a personal note, I can now empathize with the Abramoff supporters in that I knew Ryan many years ago while neighbors in Spring Valley.
2. Regarding this case, I like to point out the different moral compass between Jews and gentiles. In the secular press, Gribetz was mostly criticized for the embezzlement but excused for having the affair. The Jewish press did the opposite.
3. At least overtly. Anti-Semitism is still alive and well in politics, but not nearly as bad as it could be.