My Account  |  About   |  Advertise With Us

Rabbi Ephraim Bryks Resigns Amid Sex Abuse Allegations

Submit A Story
Share |

Rabbi Resigns Amid Sex Abuse Allegations

A Rabbi Ephraim Bryks from Kew Gardens Hills has resigned from the Queens rabbinical organization that was reportedly on the brink of casting him out because of long-standing sexual abuse allegations.

Rabbi Ephraim Bryks, who was first accused of abusing a Canadian boy in the 1980's, resigned last week as a member of the Rabbinical Council of America. He also agreed to leave Jewish teaching. Bryks co-founded the Yeshiva Berachel David in Kew Gardens Hills where he is presently an administrator.

"He wanted to make it very clear that his resignation should not be seen as an admission of guilt," Rabbi Hershel Billet, council president, told Newsday.

Bryks, 49, still denies allegations regarding Daniel Levin, a 16-year-old Canadian boy whom he is accused of abusing as a small child. Daniel was a congregant at the Winnipeg, Manitoba, synagogue where Bryks was rabbi and ran a Jewish day school beginning in 1978. The boy, who had been struggling with depression, committed suicide on Yom Kippur in 1993. Months earlier he had told his parents about being sexually molested by the rabbi.

Accusations by the Levin family are only some of several involving other children that have haunted Bryks since he left Winnipeg for the Torah Academy, a Kew Gardens yeshiva. The academy–a high school where he was administrator–fired him in 1994 after hearing a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) news report that quoted a former student and two families who said their children had also been abused. Bryks would later sue CBC for the report, as well as Cable News Network, which ran the CBC report, but the cases were dismissed on technicalities.

After an extensive investigation, Manitoba authorities announced in 1995 that they would not prosecute Bryks. The child welfare authorities in Winnipeg did their own investigation at that time and found that there was no significant evidence.

No criminal charges have ever been filed against Bryks, who plans to continue life as a private citizen. But accusations made his career an arduous one, preventing his hiring by one congregation and drawing concern from colleagues. The Queens Va'ad Harabonim, an important council of Queens rabbis, has talked of removing him.

"A person shouldn't have something like this hanging over his head," Manny Behar, executive director of the Queens Jewish Community Council, told Newsday."If it's true, it should be verified true and then he probably shouldn't be teaching in a school. If it's not true, he deserves to have his good name restored."

Bryks was not reachable for comment by press time.

Credit to: Queens Courier

 

CBC Alleges Rabbi is Child Molester

By Gil Kezwer

Jewish Life (March 1994), Cover page (continued page 14)

A shame and a disgrace. An embarrassment for the Jewish people. A desecration of God's holy name. Those were among the reactions in the Toronto Jewish community to the broadcast February 28 and March 1 on CBC Prime Time News of shocking allegations that Rabbi Ephraim Bryks, 39, formerly the principal of Winnipeg's Torah Academy, molested students in his charge.

Equally appalling was the report that Daniel Levin of Glengrove Avenue, one of the four children who have accused Rabbi Bryks of sexual abuse, committed suicide this past Yom Kippur after Metro Police asked the Oakwood Collegiete Grade 12 student to re-record a statement he had made in June 1993. The police tape machine had been faulty at the first recording. With the complainant dead and his testimony erroneously not recorded, Toronto Police were forced to drop the case.

Levin, 17 at the time of his tragic death, studied at the Orthodox Jewish school in the Manitoba capital from kindergarten through Grade Two, when his family moved to Montreal and later Toronto. For seven years the boy was in denial about the traumatic abuse he had suffered , CBC alleges, but then his life began to unravel. After his parents, Sara and Mortin Levin, separated, the tormented youth, then 14, became unable to concentrate at school. Prone to explosive fits of rage, he started treatment with psychotherapist Kristen Balmer.

In May 1993, after three years of counselling, Levin was able to recall long-suppressed memories. His mother told CBC: "He [Rabbi Bryks] was fondling his [Levin's] genitals first over his clothes, and then he opened his pants." The boy told his mother that afterwards the rabbi gave him an Elite peppermint and warned him God would punish him if he spoke about the sex abuse.

His mother added: "And then he [her son] had a memory and started coughing and spitting out mucous...and crying.

And he said that he was in the office, and Rabbi Bryks put his penis in Daniel's mouth.

Psychotherapist Balmer said "I watched him cry, and there's no question he was telling the truth." Levin had told her, "I don't want this to continue any more. I don't want any other person to have to go through what I went through."

One former student, who did not wish to be interviewed on camera told CBC that Rabbi Bryks fondled her breasts. Another girl, today 14 told her parents that when she was in Grade Two the rabbi would frequently remove her from her classroom and take her to his office where he would take off her underwear and fondle her genitalia. She also said that he cautioned her God would punish her if she told anyone.

The unidentified parent said: "The most painful recent event since her disclosure for me was going up to see how she was in her bedroom. It was just quiet, and I just wanted to see how she was. Going into her bedroom, she was sitting in her closet curled up in a fetal ball listening to Barney tapes with a little Barney book in her hand. I couldn't deal with that."

The girl is now in counselling, and her parents say she isn't ready to go to the police.

Rabbi Bryks is a native of Denver, Colorado. His father, Lejzor, also an Orthodox rabbi, hanged himself in 1971 amid rumours of financial scandal. That same year Ephraim began yeshiva studies leading to rabbinic smicha. Graduating in 1978, he came to Winnipeg where he transformed the small Herzlia Adas Yeshurun Synagogue into a major congregation.

A highly ambitious and charismatic personality, within two years he had set up a day school as well as his own kosher hasgacha (supervision) and beit din (rabbinical court). His critics accused him of megalomania and said he was obsessed with power. But his supporters said he was an idealist and a visionary unwilling to compromise on issues of halacha (Jewish law).

Questions about Rabbi Bryks began surfacing. CBC's Danielle Keefler stated that he boasted in a Winnipeg journal of a law degree from the State of Israel, and that he was a dayan (religious judge). In fact he was a mere Yeshiva student, and Israel doesn't give out law degrees.

CBC alleged Rabbi Bryks plagiarized his column in The Jewish Post and News from another rabbi's book. In November 1987, Winnipeg's Va'ad Rabbanim (Rabbinic Council wrote a scathing letter to the editor accusing Rabbi Bryks of "plagiarism" and "theft". But libel chill set in after Bryks' lawyer threatened a lawsuit. The letter was never published.

In December 1987 the synagogue board heard allegations of sexual improprieties from a 14-year- old student. Her story, as well as accounts of unwanted sexual advances by two women congregants, simply were not believed. Nine members of the congregation quit in protest. They were ridiculed and humiliated by Rabbi Bryks' supporters.

Though the synagogue board backed the rabbi, they asked Winnipeg Child and Family Services to investigate. For two months, social workers interviewed 45 students, teachers and parents. The CFS issued a report in March 1988 noting that while Rabbi Bryks hadn't broken any criminal law, his incessant tickling and touching of students was "neither appropriate nor professional".

The Jewish community tried to hush up the controversy, fearing it would either lead to anti- semitism or personal repercussions within the community. Specifically Rabbi Bryks.

The troubling questions of whether Rabbi Bryks was a child molester wouldn't go away. He finally left Winnipeg in 1990, and the Torah Academy closed down. The rabbi was offered a position as principal of an Orthodox Jewish day school in Montreal. But a group of irate parents informed the academy of the investigations of Bryks by Winnipeg Police and Family and Child Services. The job was withdrawn. He then was hired as principal of the Torah Academy in Queens, N.Y., a new school for immigrant youth from the former Soviet Union that was desperate to attract a qualified administrator.

CBC's Danielle Keefler went tp New York to interview the rabbi there. Stopped on the street, he would only say "no comment" and that "Winnipeg is a part of my life that is behind me" when asked about the allegations against him.

"People that are ill should not be put into positions where they can hurt others with illness," observed a psychologist and prominent member of the Lubavitch community here, his voice tinged with sorrow.

"There is sexual abuse within the community," said Gordon Wolfe, executive director of Toronto's Jewish Family and Child Service. In 1993, the JF&CS investigated 70 cases of alleged sexual abuse involving minors, of which 34 were intra-familial. Ten of the cases led to criminal charges. Wolfe was unaware of the number of convictions.

As well, Wolfe reported 120 incidents of physical abuse involving children, of which eight led to charges. "What you saw there [in the allegations against Bryks] is part of the pattern that often exists in this kind of behaviour. It doesn't surprise me that the children didn't say anything for a long time before coming forth. It doesn't surprise me that many people did not believe them. And it doesn't surprise me that enormous pressure was brought on the Winnipeg Child and Family Service to not pursue their investigation, particularly because he was a rabbi."

In an interview with Jewish Life after the broadcast, Sara Levin said that she remains optimistic that at least one of the students Rabbi Bryks is alleged to have abused — some of whom are in counselling and drug treatment today -- will one day be able to be strong enough to come forward and testify.

"I would like to see him brought to justice, to stand trial for the things he's done."

And with terrible sadness in her eyes, she added, "So many people knew little things but we never put them together. We never suspected."

WARNING: Rabbi Ephraim Bryks and Marriage Counseling

Ephrayim Bryks has become a rabbinic marriage counselor. The term marriage counselor or life coach can be used by anyone. He is not the only "rabbi" suspected of sexual abuse using one of these titles to access vulnerable individuals or couples both here and in Israel. Consulting actual professionals is expensive and unless the community publicly warns against going to these charlatans (often worse) many innocents will continue to be hurt.

Rabbi Yosef Blau

Credit to: ExposeMolesters.blogspot.com

Ephraim Boruk Bryks

Born around 1954, Ephraim Boruk Bryks grew up in Denver, Colorado.

His father Lejzor, an Orthodox rabbi, committed suicide in 1971 following a financial scandal. That same year, Ephraim, after eight years at Ner Israel in Baltimore, moved to Israel to study at Beth HaTalmud Rabbinical Seminary. He says he was ordained by the Beth Din of Jerusalem a year later.

He married Yochevad, the daughter of convicted sex offender rabbi Lewis Brenner. They had two children.

In 1978, Bryks moved to Winnipeg, Canada, where he ran the Herzlia-Adas Yeshuran synagogue. Bringing in new members, he established an NCSY chapter called Ohr Hagolah, the Herzlia Academy night school, a preschool, a nursery, a kindergarten, a Girl Guide troop, a Brownie troop and his own rabbinical court.

While working as a teacher in the community-run Jewish highschool, Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate, he applied for the position of Vice-Principal. When he didn't get it, he left and started his own Orthodox day school. It expanded to over 150 students.

After rabbi Bryks criticized other Winnipeg rabbis over kosher food and the city's eruv (a structure that allows observant Jews to carry on the Sabbath), questions were raised about rabbi Bryks' credentials.

He had boasted of a law degree from the state of Israel even though the state doesn't give out law degrees. He claimed he sat as a member of a religious court in Israel when he was only a rabbinical student in Israel, not a judge.

The Winnipeg Council of Rabbis in 1987 sent a letter to the editor of the Winnipeg Jewish Post & News noting that rabbi Bryks plagiarized several articles in his weekly Torah commentary from the book Torah Therapy by rabbi Reuven Bulka. After the lawyer for rabbi Bryks threatened a lawsuit, the newspaper decided to not publish the letter.

From the early 1980s, there have been a steady stream of accusations that rabbi Bryks acted inappropriately with women and children.

Contrary to Jewish law (which forbids a man from being alone with females not his wife or immediate relatives), rabbi Bryks counseled girls and women behind closed doors.

A 14-year old girl complained that the rabbi liked to sit on her lap, touch her, tickle her and talk about sex. She said he licked her face.

Various women complained to Chabad rabbi Avraham Altein, a supporter of rabbi Bryks's campaign's against Winnipeg's eruv and kashrut standards, that rabbi Bryks made unwanted sexual advances. Rabbi Altein told the women to not go to the police or social services. Instead, he urged them to go to their synagogue (Herzlia-Adas Yeshuran) board, which set up its own private inquiry.

In December 1987, the board, rabbi Bryks and his lawyer heard the evidence for three nights. The teenage girl and two women testified. They were not believed. They were threatened with lawsuits from rabbi Bryks, who also threatened to use personal information he had gathered against his accusers.

The board held a final meeting on the matter January 1, 1988. A hundred supporters of rabbi Bryks gathered outside the boardroom, threatening those who criticized the rabbi.

Ten board members voted to retain rabbi Bryks while nine voted to fire him.

After the vote, the nine board members opposed to Bryks resigned in protest. They were replaced by supporters of the rabbi. The new vote over Bryks was unanimous.

Next, the new board asked Jewish Child and Family Services (JCFS) - where rabbi Bryks had been a member of the board of directors - to investigate the allegations. The JCFS referred the matter to Winnipeg Child and Family Services (WCFS).

Over the next two months, social workers interviewed 45 students, teachers and parents before reporting in March 1988 that while there was insufficient evidence to bring criminal charges, many of the physical interactions rabbi Bryks had with his female students (hugging, tickling, kissing) were inappropriate.

A year after the WCFS report, a seven-year-old boy told Winnipeg police that rabbi Bryks molested him. Sitting in the next room, the boy's parents watched him use a doll to show to the police that rabbi Bryks masturbated him.

WCFS refused to investigate because the atmosphere at rabby Bryks's shul and school was so "emotionally charged" that any investigation would be "contaminated."

"The case was sent to the Crown," said Winnipeg police inspector Lou Spado, "but no charge was laid because there was no corroboration. You have to be very careful in an investigation like that. It becomes the word of an eight-year-old boy against that of an adult. We brought the rabbi in for questioning but he refused comment."

Over the next few months, membership in the shul and enrollment in the school fell substantially.

In 1990, rabbi Bryks was offered the position of principal of a Montreal Jewish day school. He said he was leaving Winnipeg and his Torah Academy closed.

Angry parents informed the new school about the previous investigations of rabbi Bryks and the job offer was withdrawn.

Rabbi Bryks showed up in Montreal anyway and got a hearing before a rabbinical court. The job offer was reinstated. Then parents at the school told the administrators that if the rabbi was hired, they would pull their kids. Rabbi Bryks was not hired.

Moving to New York, rabbi Bryks created another Torah Academy. Aimed at children from the former Soviet Union, it soon had 400 students.

"He has singlehandedly built our school and held it together," said Torah Academy board member Irving Laub. "His rapport was the students and staff is everything we hoped for. I know how difficult his task was in integrating newly-arrived Russian teenagers into the Hebrew day schools system. I'm a fan of his."

On February 28, 1994, the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) aired a documentary on rabbi Bryks called "Unorthodox Conduct."

Here's an excerpt from a transcript of the program:

Reporter Danielle Keefler: "Innocent and trusting. Daniel Leven grew up in a close-kit Jewish Orthodox family; two brothers, two sister, parents Sara and Martin, who wanted tradition, values instilled in their children. They enrolled five-year-old Daniel in the Torah Academy [run by rabbi Bryks].
"Daniel went to the school from kindergarten to Grade 2. Then the Levens moved away to Montreal, later to Toronto. As a teenager, Daniel's smile masked his pain. His parents had separated. The boy was in distress, unable to concentrate in school, prone to explosive fits of rage. At 14, he started therapy. Three years later, he stunned his mother and father."
Sara: "Last May, he started having -- May '93, he started having memories of being sexually abused by the rabbi and principal at Torah Academy. He was sitting on his lap, and the rabbi -- in his office in the rabbi's office, and the rabbi was -- it's so hard for me to say this…"
Martin: "He was fondling."
Sara: "He was fondling his genitals first over his clothes, and then he opened his pants. And afterwards, he gave him a candy. It was a peppermint one, with the blue wrapper, I think it says 'Elite' on it. He even remembered the candy."
Martin: "The internal mechanism for a flash second said, "It's got to be a mistake here, I'm not hearing this." But instantly, I knew that he was telling me the truth."
Sara: "And then he said he had a memory, and he started coughing and spitting out mucous, and he sat up, and we got tissues for him. And he was coughing and spitting up and spitting up, and he started crying. And he said that he was in the office, and Rabbi Bryks put his penis in Daniel's mouth. And he kept coughing, and I encouraged him to spit it up, spit everything up. That was another memory."
Martin: "He did say that Bryks said things. I wondered why he kept quiet. And then he said, 'Well, Bryks said to me, God will punish you if you speak.'
Keefler: "After 10 years, Daniel's silence was broken. His childhood torment revealed. Last June, he went to the Toronto Police. He gave a statement on tape. His psychotherapist, Kristen Balmer was there."
Kristen Balmer: "He said, 'I don't want this to continue any more.' He said, 'I don't want any other person to have to go through what I went through,' and I watched him cry, and there's no question he was telling the truth."
Keefler: "Daniel tucked away his trauma, spoke of it rarely. But with paint, he let memories, images flow on to paper. In mid-September, Daniel's mother got an unexpected phone call, it was the Toronto Police, their tape machine was faulty, it hadn't recorded Daniel's statement. They wanted him to do it all over again."
Sara: "The interview was supposed to take place, I guess, about a week later. A week -- I'm sorry, I can't say it. He never lived to make another interview."
Martin: "He took his own life on Yom Kippur in the afternoon."
Keefler: "On the day of atonement, the holiest day of the Jewish year, Daniel [age 17] hanged himself. Toronto Police had to drop the case, the complainant was dead…

"In a community journal, Bryks boasted a degree there of law from the state of Israel, that he sat as a member of a religious court in Israel, and had a court room. The truth is, he was a rabbinical student, not a judge. And the state doesn't give out law degrees. In The Jewish Post and News, Bryks plagiarized newspaper columns copied word for word from another rabbi's book. No permission, no credit. In November 1987, Winnipeg's council of Rabbis wrote a scathing letter to the editor. They accused Bryks of simple "plagiarism," "theft." Bryks' lawyer threatened the newspaper with a lawsuit if the letter were published. It was never printed…

"A former student told us what she didn't tell Child and Family Services, that Rabbi Bryks fondled her breasts, once laid completely on top of her, touched her, tickled her all the time. When a social worker asked questions, the girl kept quiet. She wasn't the only student who kept a secret. We found another child who claimed he was victimized. In 1989, a year after the Child and Family Services investigation, a seven-year-old boy went to the Winnipeg Police. His parents watched from the next room, listened, as the boy using a doll, alleged Rabbi Bryks molested him in Grade 1. The couple is disguised to protect their son's identity."
Unidentified Parent 1: "He showed on the dolls that he had been basically -- I guess, fondled, masturbated…"
Unidentified Parent 2: "Rubbed."
Unidentified Parent 1: "Rubbed, rubbed would be the word. He used the word 'tickled.'"
Unidentified Parent 2: "The rabbi would comment -- get him out of the classroom during a session of class, take him up to the office."
Unidentified Parent 1: "And he threatened him."
Unidentified Parent 2: "He threatened him that if he were to say this to anyone, the big boys would come and beat him up."
Keefler: "Bryks was brought in for questioning by the police. Then let go. Police asked Manitoba's senior crown attorney for an opinion. The word came back, no charges."
Father: "Because they felt that it would be a child's word against the rabbi's word."
Keefler: "…[M]emories are etched in the mind of a 14-year-old girl."
Unidentified Parent 3: "I felt unbelievably numb."
Keefler: "Last November, this couple's daughter told them she was molested by rabbi Bryks in Grade 2. They're disguised to protect the girl's identity."
Unidentified Parent 3: "Rabbi Bryks would take her out of class and would take her into his office during school time, and he would make her take off her underwear and -- her stockings, and then he would fondle, her genitalia. She remembers it happening many times. She told me that he told her that if she ever told anybody, that God would punish her."
Unidentified Parent 4: "The most painful recent event since her disclosure for me was going up to see how she was in her bedroom. It was just quiet, and I just wanted to see how she was. Going into her bedroom, she was sitting in her closet curled up in a fetal ball listening to Barney tapes with a little Barney book in her hand. I couldn't deal with that."
Keefler: "The 14-year-old is in counseling. Her parents say she isn't ready to go to the police."

Rabbi Bryks subsequently sued the CBC and CNN (which rebroadcast the CBC report in the U.S.) for libel. His suits were dismissed.

In 2003, rabbi Bryks resigned from the Rabbinical Council of America and said he would no longer teach children.

Credit to: Lukeford.net

 

Rabbi Resigns Amid Sex Abuse Allegations

A Rabbi Ephraim Bryks from Kew Gardens Hills has resigned from the Queens rabbinical organization that was reportedly on the brink of casting him out because of long-standing sexual abuse allegations.

Rabbi Ephraim Bryks, who was first accused of abusing a Canadian boy in the 1980's, resigned last week as a member of the Rabbinical Council of America. He also agreed to leave Jewish teaching. Bryks co-founded the Yeshiva Berachel David in Kew Gardens Hills where he is presently an administrator.

"He wanted to make it very clear that his resignation should not be seen as an admission of guilt," Rabbi Hershel Billet, council president, told Newsday.

Bryks, 49, still denies allegations regarding Daniel Levin, a 16-year-old Canadian boy whom he is accused of abusing as a small child. Daniel was a congregant at the Winnipeg, Manitoba, synagogue where Bryks was rabbi and ran a Jewish day school beginning in 1978. The boy, who had been struggling with depression, committed suicide on Yom Kippur in 1993. Months earlier he had told his parents about being sexually molested by the rabbi.

Accusations by the Levin family are only some of several involving other children that have haunted Bryks since he left Winnipeg for the Torah Academy, a Kew Gardens yeshiva. The academy–a high school where he was administrator–fired him in 1994 after hearing a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) news report that quoted a former student and two families who said their children had also been abused. Bryks would later sue CBC for the report, as well as Cable News Network, which ran the CBC report, but the cases were dismissed on technicalities.

After an extensive investigation, Manitoba authorities announced in 1995 that they would not prosecute Bryks. The child welfare authorities in Winnipeg did their own investigation at that time and found that there was no significant evidence.

No criminal charges have ever been filed against Bryks, who plans to continue life as a private citizen. But accusations made his career an arduous one, preventing his hiring by one congregation and drawing concern from colleagues. The Queens Va'ad Harabonim, an important council of Queens rabbis, has talked of removing him.

"A person shouldn't have something like this hanging over his head," Manny Behar, executive director of the Queens Jewish Community Council, told Newsday."If it's true, it should be verified true and then he probably shouldn't be teaching in a school. If it's not true, he deserves to have his good name restored."

Bryks was not reachable for comment by press time.

Credit to: Queens Courier

Rabbi Ephraim Bryks,  was accused of abusing a Canadian boy in the 1980's.

"He wanted to make it very clear that his resignation should not be seen as an admission of guilt," Rabbi Hershel Billet, council president, told Newsday.

Bryks, 49, is accused of sexually abusing  Daniel Levin, a 16-year-old Canadian boy as a small child. Daniel was a congregant at the Winnipeg, Manitoba, synagogue where Bryks was Rabbi and ran a Jewish day school beginning in 1978. The boy, who had been struggling with depression, committed suicide on Yom Kippur in 1993. Months earlier he had told his parents about being sexually molested by the rabbi.

Accusations by the Levin family are only some of several involving other children that have haunted Bryks since he left Winnipeg for the Torah Academy, a Kew Gardens yeshiva. The academy–a high school where he was administrator–fired him in 1994 after hearing a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) news report that quoted a former student and two families who said their children had also been abused. Bryks would later sue CBC for the report, as well as Cable News Network, which ran the CBC report, but the cases were dismissed on technicalities.

Credit to: Adkan

 

In agreement with Vaad, Rabbi Ephraim Bryks to leave in October; officials decline to state reasons.

A Queens rabbi who has been dogged by allegations of sexual abuse against children, but never charged with a crime, has reached a negotiated agreement to leave the Rabbinical Board of Queens in the fall, The Jewish Week has learned.

Rabbi Ephraim Bryks, who was investigated by police in Winnipeg, Canada, on suspicion of inappropriate contact with children at a yeshiva where he was principal, resigned from the Orthodox Union’s Rabbinical Council of America in 2003 without admitting any wrongdoing.

Sources told The Jewish Week that the Queens board, known as the Vaad Harabonim, had long sought to have Rabbi Bryks removed as allegations against him persisted but was advised by lawyers that doing so was complicated because there has been no formal legal or halachic proceeding against him. Rabbi Bryks has been a member of the Vaad since the early ‘90s.

Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld, co-president of the Vaad, would tell The Jewish Week only that “we reached an agreement with an individual that will take full effect in October.”

The October date, coming at the start of the new Jewish year, appears to coincide with the time when membership renewals are considered.

The board’s other president, Rabbi Richard Weiss, declined to comment and would not confirm or deny that the person involved in the agreement was Rabbi Bryks.

Last June, the same Vaad ordered Queens Pita, a bakery that it certifies kosher, to terminate the ownership interest of a man, Isaac Ebstein, who had pled guilty to abuse charges involving a 10-year-old boy. The bakery’s co-owner reportedly complied in order to maintain the kosher certification.

Rabbi Bryks has held leadership positions at two Queens yeshivas, but left for unspecified reasons. He now makes his living as a mortgage broker, has a blog seeking to field questions on halachic issues and is said to involve himself in marriage counseling, advocacy for women seeking religious divorces and in a rabbinical court, the Queens Beth Din, which he convenes with other rabbis.

Asher Lipner, a clinical psychologist who counsels sex abuse victims and, in a Jewish Week op-ed last week accused the Vaad of Queens of “protecting one of their own,” without mentioning Rabbi Bryks by name, said the Vaad had a responsibility to publicize the circumstances of Rabbi Bryks’ departure from the Vaad if it has to do with the past allegations.

“If the agreement was due to some other reason that is personal and does not affect the community and they are not telling anyone, that is fine with me,” said Lipner. “But if the reason the agreement was reached is because they suspect him of being a danger to the community, it’s their responsibility to let people know why they reached that agreement in order that he doesn’t join another organization.

“They gave a heksher and made this rabbi kosher,” Lipner continued. “If they are removing their heksher, they have to tell people he is not kosher. If they don’t, it leads to more people getting hurt.”

Religious organizations generally have a free hand in expelling members as they see fit, but must be careful how they do it, said Marc Stern of the American Jewish Congress, an expert on matters of religion and law.

“The internal workings of clergy organizations are beyond the scrutiny of the court,” said Stern. But he added that leveling a specific charge of illegal conduct against an individual in the process of severing ties to him could open the organization to legal action.

“Clergy are not exempt from slander suits or defamation,” said Stern. “In general, one of the reasons for throwing people out or taking action against a member of the clergy is to alert members of the faith that X’s conduct is not acceptable and they need to be aware.”

Rabbi Bryks did not respond to two messages left at his home or to e-mails sent via his blog and Facebook.

Rabbi Schonfeld said Rabbi Bryks was never involved in any kashrut certification work, a key function of the Vaad, and never held any leadership positions in the organization. In 2008, he was reported in the Jewish Star of Long Island to be acting as an advocate on behalf of a woman trying to obtain a religious divorce, with a notation that he was a Vaad member.

Rabbi Bryks’ resignation from the RCA after 25 years of membership came at the same time the group, at its annual convention, adopted policies and procedures to deal with allegations of sexual misconduct, The Jewish Week reported at the time. But the rabbi told the council’s leadership then that the resignation should in no way be taken as admission of wrongdoing. Since he was no longer working in Jewish education, he did not need to belong to a national rabbinical council, Rabbi Hershel Billet, then the council’s immediate past president, quoted Rabbi Bryks as saying then.

A Denver native, Rabbi Bryks, as principal of the Torah Academy in Winnipeg was found in 1988 to have tickled and hugged some students but denied more serious charges of sexual molestation, according to press reports. While the more serious charges were not substantiated by an investigation by Winnipeg social workers, the substantiated contact was deemed inappropriate and the Winnipeg Child and Family Services agency recommended that the school adopt guidelines against such behavior. The school has since closed.

In 1993, after Rabbi Bryks had moved to New York, a former student in Winnipeg accused him of having fondled him at the school when the student was 8, but prosecutors reportedly declined to press charges, citing lack of corroboration. When the boy, Daniel Leven, at age 17, was asked to re-record a statement he had given earlier, he committed suicide.

Credit to: Failed Messiah

 
Recent Stories
» If one wants to succeed in life its important to have....
» Mother claims wealthy Manhattan couple stole her son via an open adoption and then severed ties
» A Modern Orthodox Miracle
» Six residents at luxury Brighton Beach condo complex busted for Medicaid fraud
» Boris Khanimov can sue McDonald’s store over scalding hot tea spill: court
» The 30-Second Silk Road Disco Party at Salute
» FREE Estate Planning Seminar with Albert Cohen
» Hit-and-run survivor wants to walk again, find driver who changed his life
» LaBella eatery brings NY to AZ
» The Symbols of the Rosh Hashana Table and its Mechanism