Read more here.
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:
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.
Read more here.
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 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.