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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.

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.