Photo Credit:
Rabbi Bryks with his wife and children,

{Guest contributor Sarah Haber is a lawyer living in Jerusalem}

I never had any intention or desire to start a blog, and that remains the case. However, we are taught in Vayikra (Leviticus) 19:17 that when we see an injustice taking place, we have an obligation to speak out. Therefore, after having witnessed such a devastating injustice and the damage it caused to Rabbi Tully Bryks and the Jewish nation as a whole, I decided that I have no right to remain silent.

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BACKGROUND AND LEGAL ANALYSIS

As a lawyer, I have worked on cases involving sexual abuse of women and minors. During my studies at Bar Ilan University’s school of law, I worked as an intern at the Rackman Center for the Advancement of Women in Society, and before taking the Bar exam, I did my residency (“staj”) in the International Criminal Department of the Attorney General’s Office of the State of Israel.

Through my work with these agencies, I have seen many cases of sexual harassment, abuse and assault. Having witnessed first-hand the destructive effects this type of attack can have on young men and women, I have spent many hours working through evidence and cases trying to bring criminals to justice, and lecturing people (whether or not they were interested) about the dangers of any kind of harassment or abuse.

That is why when the allegations against Rabbi Bryks broke out, I was so shocked. The facts presented in the newspapers just didn’t add up (many of those statements were then retracted). Some bloggers took a guilty (even after proven innocent) approach! It seemed that what started out as an innocent attempt to protect his students by authorizing the installation of hidden security cameras in public hallways, under the guidance and directives of legal and security experts, turned into false rumors and innuendo, suggesting a range of illicit intentions and even fabrications of the facts.

As someone with personal experience as a madricha (student guide) on the Bar Ilan one-year program, just one year prior to the camera incident, could I have missed something? I actually lived on girls’ campus in the dorms and worked directly with Rabbi Bryks. And while I have worked at different points with educators who I felt did not maintain appropriate boundaries with students and other employees (and spoke out against what I felt was inappropriate behavior), it seemed clear to me that Rabbi Bryks adhered to higher moral standards. I personally witnessed how he made an effort to maintain commendable and appropriate boundaries. For example, I remember how Rabbi Bryks would always make sure to leave the door open when talking to female students and staff members, which helped ensure maximum modesty and comfort for everyone.

Of course, though the charges sounded absurd to me, I realized that there was a possibility that I had simply been misled and was blind to what was going on. I had seen too many cases of abusers who were also skilled manipulators, managing to deceive many people. Therefore, I decided to do my own investigation, treating this case like any other complaint I would have received on the job.

For the purpose of my thorough investigation, I obtained access to the following documents, and I am confident of their authenticity:

  • Full police report of the camera incident
  • Letter from the Attorney General of the State of Israel
  • Testimony from former and current students
  • Testimony from former and current employers, employees and colleagues
  • Testimony from the security company that recommended the installation of the hidden cameras as well as the optimal locations for their installation
  • Results of a polygraph test that Rabbi Bryks took voluntarily
  • Investigative analysis conducted by an independent female psychologist

After carefully examining all of the evidence, my conclusion was definitive. Not only was there virtually NO case at all against Rabbi Bryks — there was absolutely no evidence of any wrongdoing — the evidence showed the exact opposite. Namely, that Rabbi Bryks acted in complete accordance with recommendations he received from security companies and legal advisors, and he was clearly motivated by a desire to protect the students. He even went above and beyond the letter of the law to ensure that the security concerns were addressed with maximum sensitivity to privacy.

There is an enormous amount of responsibility on the shoulders of the administrators of gap year programs in Israel. Parents entrust these administrators with the safety and well-being of their children in a foreign country for an entire academic year. Recognizing the gravity of this responsibility, Rabbi Bryks treated the students as if they were his own children, and followed the necessary protocols proscribed by security experts to ensure their safety.

The following is a summary of the facts of the case:

  • Prior to the installation of the cameras, both students and parents had reported severe accusations against maintenance workers to Rabbi Bryks. These included complaints that the workers were ignoring problems in the building (such as a serious mold problem), in addition to much more severe accusations claiming that workers had entered the girls’ dormitory after hours, asked female students for their phone numbers, walked into their apartments without knocking and used their bathrooms without permission.
  • Rabbi Bryks was faced with a severe dilemma. On the one hand, these accusations had to be taken with the utmost seriousness. At the same time, though, he could not demand that employees be fired if there was no evidence against them. Therefore, he hired a professional security company to inspect the facilities and advise him how to provide the students with the highest level of security.
  • The officials at the security firm were the ones who recommended installing hidden cameras. They chose the locations of the cameras, stating that in their professional opinion, these locations offered the best balance between the security needs and the imperative to protect the students’ privacy. The cameras were installed only in the public hallway at the entrance to the dormitory buildings, and the camera lenses were aimed at the main external entry door, so that they would only show people walking in and out of the building. Although there were several different dorm buildings, the complaints of impropriety against the maintenance staff were related to only two buildings. The cameras were installed only in those two buildings. The security company confirmed after the camera incident that Rabbi Bryks had the two cameras installed in the exact spots that they had recommended. The only difference was that, for added sensitivity to privacy, Rabbi Bryks insisted that the camera lenses be angled to only show the main entrance of the building and nothing else.
  • Before the cameras were installed, contrary to false reports, Rabbi Bryks had, in fact, informed at least four other people about his intention to install hidden security cameras, including a program board member, one of his dormitory employees, and two security experts who conducted the on-site inspection. The cameras were only up for a few hours before they were taken down, so the rest of the staff had not yet been informed about this development.
  • The cameras were not equipped with remote-access capability; footage could only be viewed by physically retrieving it from the camera. The plan was that in the event of future complaints against maintenance workers, a female staff member would inspect the relevant footage, as an additional measure to protect the privacy and dignity of any students who may have been photographed. Since the cameras were only up for a few hours, no footage was ever viewed by anyone, except for the police, who later confirmed there were no privacy concerns with it.
  • After completing their investigation, the police concluded that everything Rabbi Bryks had done was both legal and appropriate, and closed the file with the designation “no guilt”. It is important to note that police investigations in Israel can be closed for numerous reasons, including “insufficient evidence” or “lack of public interest.” A case is closed with a proclamation of “no guilt” and all records of the complaint are erased (including the internal police file) only if the police determine conclusively that the accused is completely innocent. Israel’s Supreme Court explained the difference between “no guilt” and “insufficient evidence” – where there is any reasonable doubt as to the innocence of the accused party, the case is closed based on “insufficient evidence”; Where there is no doubt as to the innocence of the accused party, the case is closed with a proclamation of “no guilt” (case number: 4372/11).
  • Although Rabbi Bryks was completely cleared of any wrongdoing, and even commended for having the camera lenses angled as an added precaution, Rabbi Bryks wanted to ensure that his pure motives could be corroborated as well. Therefore, even after he was emphatically and unconditionally cleared by the police, he voluntarily underwent a polygraph lie-detector test. The polygraph completely confirmed his entire narrative of the story, including that he had installed the cameras with the sole intention of protecting the students, had them installed exactly where the security company recommended and that he even had them angled to only display the main entrance door as an added measure of modesty.
Rabbi Tully Bryks, the founding director of the Israel Experience at Bar Ilan, leads Havdallah during his final year as director

STUDENT AND EMPLOYER REACTION AND PERSPECTIVES

Unfortunately, the moment accusations of this type become public, they attract much public interest and discussion, but few people actually take the time to investigate the facts. As the rumors, accusations and blogs spread, incoming students and parents from the upcoming school year started contacting the leaders of the program and expressed concerns about what they had heard. Rabbi Bryks faced a dilemma: Staying on as Director of the program would send a confident message of his noble intentions and could have helped protect his livelihood and good name. On the other hand, if potential students were to withdraw, the program he had created and worked so hard to build, and had left his comfortable life and job in America to run, could be severely damaged and cause some of his staff members to lose their jobs.  According to someone with an intimate knowledge of the case, Rabbi Bryks said:

“When I realized that by walking away, I could protect all of the current and incoming students as well as all of the other staff members, I knew that resigning was the right thing to do.”

Some students, like Julia Owen, an alumna from the Northwest Yeshiva High school in Seattle Washington and a student at Bar Ilan during the incident, knew right away that the cameras must have been installed purely for security purposes:

“During my studies at the Israel Experience at Bar Ilan University, it was always clear that Rabbi Bryks truly cared for every single student and would go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that we were safe. When the security cameras were installed right next to my dorm building, I, like anyone else who truly knows Rabbi Bryks, knew from the beginning that he had only authorized their installation in order to address serious complaints about the maintenance staff and to keep us safe. Rabbi Bryks is a role model who maintains high moral standards and has a deep love for the Torah and the Jewish people!

A few weeks after his departure, as students began to learn more of the facts, the majority of the students petitioned Rabbi Bryks to come back. They wrote:

“We firmly trust that you acted for our benefit and with good intentions… You created and built this incredible program and it is simply not the same without you. You constantly went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that each one of us is having the best possible experience. Please allow the future generations of Bar Ilan students to benefit from your warmth, sincerity and devotion to each and every student.”

When asked about the student petition for his return, Rabbi Bryks responded:

“While I really appreciated the student support, I believed that my departure was all part of a Divine plan. I found it hard to believe that I was supposed to be publicly humiliated just to leave the program for 3 weeks and then come right back. There had to be something more. Ultimately, I concluded that Hashem wanted me to use my skills to contribute to the Jewish people in other ways.

And even though Rabbi Bryks didn’t agree to return, Bar Ilan students continued to regularly go to his house after the incident.

Based on my studies and experience in the legal world, when it comes to abusers, especially those who have been found after many years of working as educators, there tends to be a long history of abuse as these character flaws don’t usually appear overnight. As such, when an allegation emerges, it is often followed by multiple victims stepping forward from the past, demonstrating a pattern. Prior to his 4 years running the Bar Ilan program, Rabbi Bryks worked with hundreds of teenagers during his 20 years of involvement with NCSY as well as 7 years as the founding youth Director at the Young Israel of Kendall. Therefore, I decided to check with his former employers at both NCSY and Young Israel to see if there had ever been any signs or complaints of inappropriate behavior. Both replied that there had never been such complaints or concerns.

Rabbi Becker, Rabbi of the Young Israel of Kendall for the past few decades, elaborated on this point:

“I saw Rabbi Bryks running programs, handling challenges and crises facing our youth, those in our synagogue and throughout the community. His objective and motive was always very clear and upfront. ‘I want to see how these children can become greater – spiritually and as upstanding members of society.’ If anyone would have noticed any impropriety in his conduct, it would have been me. If anyone would have received any complaints whatsoever about his behavior, it would have been me. What I received was the opposite. Throughout the years and to this day, I have heard many people cite Rabbi Bryks’ involvement in the lives of their children and families, as a turning point leading to greatness; improving the lives of their children, instilling them with solid values, and inspiring the entire family”

So it was clear that in his many years working with children and teenagers prior to Bar Ilan, Rabbi Bryks had a perfectly clean record. What about after he left Bar Ilan? With more heightened sensitivity, perhaps his new employers or students would notice something? After leaving Bar Ilan, Rabbi Bryks worked at a few different programs, including a 2-year stint as a teacher and recruiter at Tomer Devorah Seminary and one year as a recruiter for Meorot Institute. While he was only at Meorot for the 2014-2015 school year, the feedback was great. Mrs. Esti Kimche, the founding director of Meorot, has only positive things to say about him:

“Rabbi Bryks managed to find just the right balance in recruiting students – His presentations were compelling and inspiring, but also sensitive to the obstacles and challenges that individual students or families may be facing.”

Students at Tomer Devorah, where Rabbi Bryks taught for the two years immediately following the Bar Ilan incident, also had extremely positive things to say about him. Sarah Casteel, a Tomer Devorah student from St. Louis, Missouri, wrote: 

“I’m so embarrassed and so sorry to say that when I heard about the camera incident a long while ago, I was too quick to listen to the gossip and believed those rumors. I think I’m maybe more sensitive on that issue because of previous experiences and it was totally wrong of me. I definitely realized that I need to go out of my way to learn the facts before I believe something, and to be more sensitive about how a real persons’ life is being hugely affected when gossip is spread… As soon as I met Rabbi Bryks, I knew there was no way that he could have acted with bad intentions. Rabbi Bryks is an honest and caring teacher who manages to find just the right balance in setting the proper boundaries with the students.”

Natasha Zucker, a Tomer Devorah student from Minnesota, offered Rabbi Bryks the following validation of his career change:

He is so genuine that he has a unique ability to motivate students to come learn Torah for the year. I was in seminary because of Rabbi Bryks. And even now that I’m home, Rabbi Bryks is still the first person I go to with my questions. He cares about each and every student’s future.

Another student, Hadas Miller from Baltimore, Maryland, recounted one of her first meetings with him:

I met Rabbi Bryks the first time he taught me in class. He was dynamic, funny, entertaining and inspiring – everything a teacher needs to be to captivate students for a whole fifty minutes. Little did I know, that’s who he was in real life. My first time in Ramat Beit Shemesh was Rosh Hashanah. Everything was new and overwhelming as I walked out of shul the first night. Then I spotted him, a familiar face, and my world brightened. I’m not someone who generally introduces myself to people I barely know, but I was compelled to go over and say hi. Rabbi Bryks greeted me with a warm and sincere hello, as if he had known me my whole life, and I suddenly felt at home. He and his wife virtually adopted me that night. Now every time I am in Ramat Beit Shemesh, I make a point of stopping by to visit because at his house, with his family, I know I have a home. Rabbi Bryks is someone who is always looking out for the other person, eager to help him/her in whatever way possible. For me, he and his wife gave me a family and a home away from home.”

MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WORKING WITH RABBI BRYKS

As someone who served as a madricha on the program, I can personally attest to those statements. Rabbi Bryks constantly went above and beyond his obligations, and truly cared about each and every student. He is a talented and caring educator, with a unique ability to teach Torah and Halacha (Jewish law) to students who haven’t really had much of a connection with Judaism. Students feel secure in the knowledge that he is not judging them and that he understands where they are coming from.

Rabbi Bryks’ devotion went beyond the students. As a staff member I also always knew I could call him with any problem or Halachic question I had.

I remember once, after a long 3-day trip to Eilat with the students, Rabbi Bryks offered a ride to the staff members who lived in the Gush Etzion and Beit Shemesh area on his way back to Ramat Beit Shemesh (instead of having to take the bus back to Bar Ilan with the students, which was very far out of the way for some of us, and then another bus home). After 3 days of hard work, and considering exams were coming up, the offer was greatly appreciated. I assumed that Rabbi Bryks would take a few minutes to make polite conversation, and then spend the rest of the ride relaxing from the stressful trip or making phone calls for work. Instead, though, he spent the entire ride discussing issues we were having with specific students and answering philosophical and religious questions.

As a madricha, I also had the privilege to witness many staff meetings, inspiring speeches, and programs run by Rabbi Bryks. One of the things that always stood out to me was Rabbi Bryks’ undefeatable optimism. No matter how bad a situation was, Rabbi Bryks was always able to see the good in it, and encourage us all to find the hand of Hashem in the situation. At times, as someone who is not always the biggest optimist, this was frustrating for me; but it was also something that I was extremely impressed by. That is why I was not even a little surprised that, despite the turmoil the camera incident put him through, he was able to stay positive throughout it all.

Everyone on the program knew that Rabbi Bryks’ favorite song is “Tov Lehodot L’Hashem.” It became a kind of a joke: we sang that song at every Shabbaton (weekend retreat), and every time the students would try to end it, he would loudly begin it again. The words of this song are extremely powerful – “It is good to give thanks to G-d, and to sing to Your lofty name. To declare Your kindness in the morning, and Your faith at night” (Tehillim/Psalms 29:2-3). Rashi (one of the Biblical commentators) explains that these verses describe the different ways we relate to Hashem’s actions. In the “morning”, at a time when things are good and it is easy to see that Hashem is protecting us, we declare His kindness. However, at “night”, when things are dark and it may even seem that Hashem has neglected us, we declare our trust in Him and our confidence that any challenges we face are for our ultimate benefit.

In many of the emails sent by students (both current and past), parents, and colleagues, they mentioned this song. They expressed their hope that even when faced with such a difficult challenge, Rabbi Bryks would be able to see Hashem’s hand and have faith that everything is for the best. After speaking to Rabbi Bryks 3 years after these events, I am amazed at how he was able to do exactly that. Rabbi Bryks excitedly told me of all the new projects he is working on to help the Jewish people. In his words:

“I would probably have never left the Israel Experience at Bar Ilan program, a program that I had created, had something like this not happened, even though I always thought that maybe there were other things I needed to do to help make the world a better place. Clearly Hashem knew that I needed this push to make that change. While it was an extremely difficult time for my family, I believe that I am now serving an even greater purpose.”

What amazes me even more is how, even after so many people had been so quick to judge Rabbi Bryks and assume the worst about him, he is still able to see the best in people and judge them favorably. At one point during our conversation I mentioned how hard this whole experience must have been for his family, and how angry he must be with all those people who spread such harsh accusations about him, and who judged him so quickly. Did he ever feel any ill will against those who complained about him? He replied without hesitation,

“Never! “First of all, even today, most of the students still don’t know all of the details of the incident, so it wasn’t really their fault if anyone thought badly of me. In addition, I have always cared about my students and will continue to do so no matter what. To that end, I actively encouraged and supported the police investigation. Finally, I firmly believe that everything that happens is for the best.”

I mentioned that if I was in his place, I don’t think I would be able to forgive them, and Rabbi Bryks looked horrified.

“How can you say such a thing? Who are we to not forgive people? Don’t we say Kriayas Shema Al HaMita every night, whereby we forgive anyone for anything they ever did to us? As humans, it may sometimes be hard for us, but we have no right to judge people!”

Rabbi Bryks holding Baby Aliza

MY CONCLUSIONS

One of the things I learned from my extensive investigation of this case is how important it is to never jump to conclusions when hearing accusations. I always was, and still am, the first to applaud the fact that our community has become much more aware of issues of abuse and sexual harassment. And we should continue to expand our efforts to expose abusers, especially those in positions of power. However, we need to ensure that what we report is accurate.  This is important for the sake of people who are falsely accused, and it is even more important for the sake of real victims of abuse. When cases such as this one grab public attention and then turn out to be baseless accusations, we risk our community taking future complaints about real abuse less seriously. From all my work on sexual harassment cases, I know that one of the main concerns of a victim who is debating whether or not to come forward with complaints, is the fear that they won’t be believed. That is precisely the danger of false accusations being spread. We must never stop standing up for victims, and at the same time, we must assist the future victims by making sure to exonerate those who have been cleared of any wrongdoing.

To learn more about Rabbi Bryks and see quotes from his former colleagues and students, I highly recommend a visit to his website, Rabbi With Answers. You can also see Rabbi Bryks on YouTube. Better yet, come meet him for yourself and be amazed that someone can still possess so much love for others, regardless of what they think of him. For those who have ever experienced obstacles in their lives, come meet a man who embodies the teaching that “everything that happens is for the best.”

Personally, I have learned two key lesson from this episode:

  1. I should always try and see what Hashem wants me to do in every situation, and not let myself take the easy way out; I should try to change every challenge I face into an opportunity to help the Jewish people and the world in other ways.
  2. Even more significantly, I have been motivated to try, like Rabbi Bryks always does, not to judge others and to always give them the benefit of the doubt.

It is my hope that this article will enable people to do the same for Rabbi Bryks, so that future students can have the opportunity to be inspired by him, just as I have.

{Guest Author Sara Haber is a lawyer at the International Legal Forum. She studied at Bar Ilan University, and did her fieldwork in the International Department of the State Prosecutor’s Office. During law school, she worked as an intern at the Rackman Center for the Advancement of the Status of Women. Originally from Alon Shevut, Sara currently resides in Jerusalem}

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33 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you so much for writing this important article and for taking the time to really examine the circumstances and put the truth out there. Anyone who actually knows Rabbi Tully Bryks understands the kind of exemplary person he truly is. But it is important to really know and understand the truth and not just to go on heresay in any direction. Well done Sara.

  2. I was a student on the Bar-Ilan Israel Experience Program that year, and I remember every detail of what happened that day. I always stood by Rabbi Bryks' because I knew he was an amazing person that had nothing but the best intentions for each and every one of us. Every time someone asks me about it, I always try to set the record straight. I'm glad you could bring all the facts to light, so people have concrete proof.

  3. The truth always comes through. Sometimes it just takes a bit of time.
    I visited the dorm area of the Israel Experience at Bar Ilan when my daughter was a student there in 2012. I was impressed with the program run by Rabbi Bryks and the caliber of the university studies and the activities. The one issue that bothered me was the way the maintenance workers would hover around the dorm buildings. It was hard to believe that it could take hours for 3 men to trim a shrub by the kitchen window of my daughter’s building. They finally finished the job when they saw me cooking in the kitchen. I can understand the students would find this sort of thing creepy and that Rabbi Bryks would try to find a solution that would ensure their safety and privacy. How sad that people would rush to make accusations that would take cameras aimed at a front door and blow it out of proportion. How sad that any apologies or outcomes to clear Rabbi Bryks get buried somewhere, while accusations were front page news.
    I was 100% sure that there was no impropriety in what was done at that time and it is gratifying to learn I was right. I’m just sorry that it had to take so long and cause good people to worry.
    Those of us who know Rabbi Bryks can attest to his fine character and know how much good he did for the Bar Ilan program and creating a phenominal gap year experience. There is a special place in gehennim reserved for people who negatively comment without having first-hand knowledge of the situation or people involved.
    It is good to see the bare facts presented and shown to all how wrong it is to rush to judgement without evidence.

  4. Very beautifully written. I couldn't agree more with how you spoke so eloquently about Rabbi Bryks. I spent many years with Rabbi Bryks when he was the head of NCSY in Miami. He always acted in a kind and respectful matter. I hope many people read this article and learn the truth.

  5. Sara –

    As someone who also seeks to be a lawyer and fight against injustices, I applaud you on your thorough research to dispel the rumors surrounding an innocent man. As a former student and NCSYer of Rabbi Bryks, I truly appreciate all of the time, effort and research you put into this article to show the world the truth about such a pious and extraordinary man. Rabbi Bryks has served as a mentor for me and for many of my peers and continues to be able to help Jewish youth around the world because of people like yourself.

    On behalf of all those who have the true merit of knowing Rabbi Bryks – as well as on behalf of K'lal Yisrael – I would like to thank you for spreading the truth about this story. What a beautiful article and a worthy cause indeed!

  6. Kol HaKavod Sara Haber for a really well-researched and well-written piece of investigative journalism! (Yes I know I am not unbiased but it really is true!)

    This is an issue I have been concerned about for some time. For way too many years, our community was insufficiently dilligent about preventing abuse and a lot of people got hurt. Now, as we have thankfully become aware of the issue and much more careful, we often run the risk of being too quick to press the trigger – and many innocent people can get hurt that way as well. It's always crucial to get access to the hard facts before passing judgment.

  7. Thank you for writing this important article. As someone who has known Rabbi Bryks for over 10 years in many capacities, I have to write on his behalf. On our behalf. On behalf of the community of North Miami Beach that he was so instramental in, on behalf of NCSY, on behalf of my family who is very close to the Bryks family and on behalf of Jews. If anyone is interested in hearing who Rabbi Tully Bryks truly is, all you have to do is call anyone you know in South Florida. Yes, any nieghborhood. Rabbi Bryks and Hindy Bryks lived in a beautiful home where they and their children were truly public servants. Day and night they were involved with the youth of our amazing community. I was North Miami Beach Chapter Advisor for a few years and in that time I saw Rabbi Bryks help so many boys and girls who needed guidance. In the most practical, honest and appropriate way. We ran an oneg shabbos together every Friday night for teens in high school. Personally, I spoke to Rabbi and Rebbetzin Bryks whenever I felt I needed to. Especially about dating. I would call and the answer was always "come one over." I can't even imagine them saying it wasn't a good time. I know that it is due to their concern and helpful, practical input that I was able to marry my husband. My dream was always to have them at our wedding, but as I got married after they moved to Israel, I knew that would be impossible. The day of my wedding arrived and Rabbi Bryks drove over an hour to my wedding and back to catch a flight to add joy to our wedding day! It was so special to have one of the biggest influences in my life at my kabalas panim. I feel so fortunate to have a relationship with such unique, classy, larger-than-life people in my life. Thank you for everything, Rabbi and Rebbetzin Bryks!

  8. I have known Tully for about 20 years. He has been nothing short of completely trustworthy in any endeaver he has ever done. There is a better chance of the pope giving birth than Tully being guilty of any of these fabrications. He is a good person, an even better Jew, and someone I would completely trust with any situation. He rushes to do mitzvos with an enthusiasm that is refreshing. He avoids avaros knowing how harmful they are to his neshama. Please erase any negative thoughts about him from these ridiculos allegations.

  9. I met Rabbi Bryks many years ago and know him to be an amazing person and Rabbi. It is terrible what people can say and do to ruin someones name and unfortunately it's so easy these days with the internet and Social Media. All one has to do is post something online to destroy a persons name if they want. With Hashems help you should be able to continue Kiruv and the holy work you are doing till 120+.

    I feelvery fortunate to know Rabbi Bryks and miss him as we are several thousand miles away but B"H still keep in touch.
    iyH in the very near future we should all join him and the rest of Klal Yisral in Eretz Yiroel Eir Hakodesh!

    Yaacov

  10. Shoshanna Goldstein Sanders :
    As per your comment, here a just a few examples of the fabrications, allegations, inconsistencies and misleading statements made in the media about this case.
    1. Ha'aretz is the paper which first broke the story publicly, and the main source for almost every subsequent blogger. I don’t think I have to mention that Ha’aretz has a very specific agenda. Their headline says that "Rabbi Bryks was fired." In reality, Rabbi Bryks chose to resign. Even after Ha'aretz was told of this mistake, they did not change their article or headline. And even in their "retraction" article submitted a year later admitting that Rabbi Bryks was completely exonerated, Ha'aretz still used the wording, "Rabbi Bryks had been forced to quit."
    2. Ha'aretz quotes NCSY that in Rabbi Bryks’s many years working in NCSY, there had never been any complaints against him "on a matter like this.” This is a serious distortion since one could conclude from the wording that there were many complaints on other matters. In fact, this is exactly what at least one other blogger concluded.
    I checked with NCSY and was able to confirm that Rabbi Bryks had a perfectly clean record and there simply were no complaints against him, legal, moral or otherwise.
    But don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story – yet another blogger spun NCSY’s positive affirmation of Rabbi Bryks's record, arguing that NCSY should not be believed since it covered up a scandal in the past. Therefore, concluded the blogger, we should view the lack of complaints there with suspicion.
    Nothing could be further from the truth.
    Precisely as a result of the scandal that hit NCSY in 2000, the organization put in place protocols to deal with complaints, including a very sophisticated ombudsmen program, whereby students can anonymously and safely report any concerns about staff members.
    Rabbi Bryks worked with hundreds of students a year, for over 15 years in NCSY – and not even one NCSY participant ever expressed a concern with the conduct of Rabbi Bryks.
    3. In sub-headlines describing where the cameras were installed, Ha'aretz used the title "girls dorm.” This allowed the reader to imagine the worst. Only further reading reveals that it was a hallway, and even then, without knowing the campus, one might conclude that this was a hallway deep inside the dorms and no where near the main entrance.
    In reality, the cameras were actually placed in the hallways right next to the main exterior entrance, which lead directly outdoors, and the lenses were angled to only show the external door itself. As such, the area filmed was completely public. I actually lived in the very building where one of the cameras was installed.
    Despite the actual facts, some social media posters claimed the cameras were installed in private areas, ranging from private bedrooms to bathrooms to showers. Some of these mistakes were a clear result of Ha’aretz’s misleading article.

  11. A few other examples include:
    4. Ha'aretz quotes a Bar Ilan employee that no one from the Bar Ilan staff knew about the camera installation. While it may be true that none of his employees were informed of the installation yet, If Rabbi Bryks had not told anyone about his intentions, this would imply illicit intentions. But in reality, while it may be true that Bar Ilan employees had not yet known about the installation, Ha'aretz never mentioned that the program was not run by Bar Ilan University. Rabbi Bryks was not even a Bar Ilan employee. Rabby Bryks started his own organization which ran the program, and paid Bar Ilan a fee for each student, so that the students would have access to Bar Ilan classes. But everything else was under his sole responsibility, including trips, dorms, night activities, health insurance, buses, flights, and the like. Rabbi Bryks was personally responsible for the dorms which he leased and which were not on the Bar Ilan campus (they were around a 25-30 minute walk away from the university).
    As such, since Bar Ilan had no jurisdiction and since Rabbi Bryks was the president of the organization and director of the program, he did not need to tell anyone about his dorm decisions and he didn't need financial approval for the expenditures. In the case of the cameras, due to his added sensitivity, he went ahead and solicited other opinions and even brought in a second security company to make their own evaluation, and only after they too insisted on the hidden camera installation, did he agree to go forward with it.
    I have been able to confirm at least 5 people who were consulted about it in advance, and almost all of them supported the camera installation, including one of Rabbi Bryks's board members.
    Rabbi Bryks even noted at the time that he was following the guidance of security companies. But Ha'aretz never bothered to point out that his organization was exclusively in charge of the dorms and not Bar Ilan (and Ha'aretz was informed of this). And Ha'aretz never checked with these security companies and just left the impression Rabbi Bryks had tol no one about the cameras.
    5. Most of the articles and bloggers give little or no attention to the serious maintenance staff complaints that motivated the camera installation to begin with. This is a crucial piece of evidence that would have been easy for anyone to verify.
    Due to this omission, another Ha'aretz quote become all the more misleading, where the article quoted that the cameras "had only been installed in the girls dorms, but not in the boys dorms," implying again that there was a predatory angel to the story. But a critical factor is that the most serious student complaints against the maintenance staff, "claiming that workers had entered the girls’ dormitory after hours, asked female students for their phone numbers, walked into their apartments without knocking and used their bathrooms without permission," were only alleged to have taken place in these two apartments on girls campus and these were the exact two locations where the cameras were placed, and only these two locations. Lacking this context paints a very different and inaccurate picture.
    6. Some have even suggested that Rabbi Bryks is "not religiously observant," while others have suggested that he never received Smicha. Rabbi Bryks, in fact, has Smicha from Rabbi Berel Wein, a very reputable and distinguished Rabbi and former Rosh Yeshiva. Anyone who knows Rabbi Bryks can attest to his meticulous commitment to Jewish law.
    There are undoubtedly many more fabrications, allegations, inconsistencies and misleading statements out there, but the sampling above could hopefully show why I felt a need to speak up.
    Although I wanted to share all of the documents publicly, with regard to the identity of the security companies or those individuals who knew of and approved the plan for the camera installation, even though that plan was vindicated by the police, it is certainly understandable that they would like to remain anonymous. So while I was able to speak with some of these individuals to confirm their stories and read some of their testimony on the police report, Rabbi Bryks has asked me not expose their names publicly, so they do not face the same fate that he did.
    But If you are truly interested in the truth, you are welcome to private message me on FB and I would be happy to meet with you in person so you can see the legal documents and evidence for yourself.

  12. I met Rabbi Bryks through my daughter Jennifer, who grappled with her Jewish identity and found her way back to her roots through her connection to Rabbi Bryks and attendance to Bar Ilan University in 2010. I had visited the school with Jennifer as she enrolled and now Jennifer is a role model for teens, working with NCSY as a Director and will create a future, filled with Judaism’s golden nuggets for life and love. I have deep respect for Rabbi Bryks and am eternally grateful for his presence in our lives. I feel that the world is a much better place due to his influence and as for this story… it sheds light on a highly accomplished Spiritual Leader with a stellar heart and soul. With Reverence, Melinda

  13. I was also a student on the program that year. Everyone was so quick to believe the rumors. False rumors spread, and I am ashamed to admit I believed them at first. My personal experience with Rabbi Bryks should have left no doubt in my mind of his innocence. He made me a better Jew. He made me think about mitzvot and Torah very differently than before the program. I grew a lot as a person that year, and I only have rabbi Bryks and the whole staff to thank.

  14. I was a student of Rabbi Bryks in Tomer Devorah Seminary last year, and I had a great experiance. I am certain that he was falsely accused, and I am thrilled to see that the truth has finally come out to the world. He is an exceptional person who shares so much wisdom and Torah, and his family is truly remarkable. I wish them only the best, as well as the rest of Klal Yisroel.

  15. I, like others here were students on this program the year that this transpired. He is singlehandedly the one person who changed my life and put me on a different path. I wholeheartedly believe I would not be where I am today without him.

    It was devastating to see someone who puts so many up, to be put down by rumors and falsehoods. I hope that this truthful article impacts those necessary as well.

  16. Thank you so much for writing this. As a student of Rabbi Bryks I am happy that this detailed description of what happened is being spread out, giving people a better understanding and an opportunity to learn the importance of not rushing to judge someone without the full story.
    I had such a meaningful and life-changing gap year and all the staff, including the Bryks family, were huge impact on me

  17. I've read the two English-language Haaretz articles and two blog posts on this topic, and I still don't see any evidence of substantial false accusations. Ha'aretz did not accuse Rabbi Bryks of doing anything that he didn't admit to himself. You fault them for writing that he placed video cameras in the girls' dormitory, but that's exactly what he did, isn't it? You claim that they were in a public space, but in his resignation letter, he says they were in "apartments". An apartment is a private residential space. The Israel Experience description of the dormitories says that "The women’s dorms are apartment-style, with 2 people to a room and usually 2 rooms to an apartment. Each apartment has 1-2 bathrooms, and a fridge and freezer". So the cameras were not placed in a space publicly shared by the large building, but in an apartment for four people, containing bedrooms and bathrooms. Isn't is reasonable for students to expect privacy in such a place? Isn't that why they were shocked to find cameras there, and demanded a police investigation?

    All this talk about camera angles and women reviewing the tapes only serves to underscore the point that the cameras were placed where they didn't belong. The police may decide that no crime was committed, but that doesn't meant this was a responsible thing to do, or that he deserves his job back.

    Rabbi Bryks left his position not because of false rumors, but because it was revealed that he placed video cameras in the girls' apartments, without their consent. He himself admits to having demonstrated poor judgement. None of this has been denied, challenged, or retracted.

  18. I was present the year this happened, and was neighbors with the room where it was found. I was always sure this was false and I am so relived to see other people speaking out about this! Rabbi Bryks has been in my life since I was very young and has impacted me and my siblings very strongly. He is one of the most kind and thoughtful people I have ever met.

  19. Thank you for writing this and showing the truth about Rabbi Bryks. It's so sad how people make false accusations, quick to judge and try to ruin someons name. We know Rabbi Bryks and his family from when they lived in North Miami Beach community. They are the most genuine kindest people you will know. They were very involved in our community. Their house was always open for anyone in need for a meal on shabbas. Rabbi Bryks was involved in NCSY and was the youth director at our shul. My kids looked forward and enjoyed going to groups in shul on shabbas. My kids at the time were too young for NCSY but I was still involved and saw the impact that Rabbi Bryks had on the boys and girls and how inspiring and dedicated he was to them. I was devastated when I heard the news that Rabbi Bryks and his family were moving to Israel. I was happy for the oppurtunity he had but knew that it wouldn't be the same without them. I was right the youth groups were never the same and my kids didn't enjoy going as much. Now that my kids are older and involved in NCSY I can see that Rabbi Bryks presence is definitely missed. It is a shame that my kids didn't have the opportunity to be involved when Rabbi Bryks was.My oldest son is off to Study in Israel for the year and I am extremely happy and thankful that Rabbi Bryks is there. He assisted and helped my son with making his final decision of where would best for him to spend the year. We really miss Rabbi Bryks and his family. NMB has never been the same since they left. Hindy his wife did therapy with my terminally ill daughter. She made a huge difference in my daughters life. She took on what no other therapist would do and truly helped my daughter. I am so thankful and blessed to have met and got to know Rabbi Bryks and his family. They truly are the most amazing people. Thank you Rabbi and Rebbetzin Bryks for all that you did and still do to make differences in peoples life. You definitely made a huge difference in our and we will forever be grateful. Thank you again for writing this article and showing that people should open their eyes And not be too quick to judge anyone before you have true facts.

  20. Rabbi Tully Bryks had a very large influence in my life during my most formative years. I met him right after my Bat Mitzvah and he and his wife immediately took me under their wing and gave me Jewish guidance; teaching me about my moral obligation as a Jewish woman and other very important lessons regarding treating others and the concept of Loshan Hora. How ironic that Rabbi Bryks has become the victim of slander and gossip when he inspired me and so many others to beware of the dangers of slandering others, especially in public. I will never forget Rabbi Tully's Teen Torah class that I attended religiously throughout middle school and high school

  21. Rabbi Bryks was an amazing positive influence on my life. He was the NCSY rabbi in Kendall when I started in NCSY and then the regional director for my region. Without him I would never have become religious or have become a rebbetzin who works in outreach (I've hijacked my husband's Facebook account). Based on my experiences with him and researching the facts of what happened at Bar Ilan I would have no hesitation to send my students to him. I am truly saddened that someone so amazing was slandered by people who would rather spread motzai Shem Ra then find out what happened.

  22. I could literally write a book on the time Rabbi Bryks and I spent together during the three months following my graduation from college and leading up to my departure for yeshiva. The book would in essence be a litterary highlight reel for Rabbi Bryks' character and his skills in dealing with a Jew searching for answers and evaluating the Torah as a potential basis for life. For the purposes of this article and its subject matter though, I will state simply that Rabbi Bryks' character was and is that of an ideal Jew; an unwavering, unceasing dedication to do the right thing as defined by Torah combined with a deep sense of compassion and love for his fellow Jew. I actually was almost amused when I heard of accusations of wrongdoing against Rabbi Bryks because for one famililar with his character, the notion was just too preposterous to even contemplate as anything approaching reality. The man is a model husband, father, son, teacher, and friend. HaShem should help him continue to reach out to all of the Jews of the world who need him and should allow him to impact their lives and help them find their way as he did for me and so many others.

  23. Awesome article. Rabbi Bryks is the most influential teacher and leader I've ever experienced. He totally helped me make a major change in my life in order to involve myself with Judaism and I'm happy to see that the truth prevails. Thank you!

  24. This article is yet another piece of evidence that well thought out analysis will lead to the truth. As a student at Bar Ilan when this happened, I immediately could tell that a totally innocent person was being strung up for crimes he did not commit, and I am very happy to see the views that I thought were plainly obvious are now available for public consumption. I hope people take note

  25. My year at the Bar Ilan program was honestly the best year in my life. It was an experince of a life time which would not have been possible without Rabbi Bryks. He invested so much into the program and the students. I had no intention on going to Israel after high-school , but after I heard Rabbi Bryks talk to the senior class at an ncsy shabbaton I was convinced this was something I needed to do. He always had his home open and always welcomed me with a smile. I have so much graditute for everything he's done for me.

  26. I worked with Rabbi Bryks for years, both in NCSY and as a liaison between a Jewish school and his Israel programs, and I was always impressed by his professionalism, enthusiasm, and love for his students. I sent students to his programs fully confident that they would be both inspired and taken care of, and I would continue to send students to programs that Rabbi Bryks is running. I'm so happy that this article was written. It is unfortunate that many people were so quick to judge and that Rabbi Bryks' reputation was so badly damaged. May Rabbi Bryks continue to inspire students to be close to Judaism and serve the Jewish people in the very talented and passionate way that he has for so many years.

  27. I was privileged to have Rabbi Bryks as a teacher last year in Tomer Devorah. The minute I saw him, I knew he would be one of my favorites. He had this vibe that just brought me in. He was so relate able and I always felt so comfortable with him.
    It really saddens me that people would respond to a situation that was so pure and coming from such a good place, and find a fault in it and eventually cause so much harm. Rabbi Bryks was looking out for the students at Bar Ilan and had only good intentions for them. Rabbi Bryks didn't deserve all the embarrassment and hardship he had to go through because of this situation.
    I really hope this article shows people what really happened and that people make the effort to justify their actions and words that were against him.
    I think it's amazing that a Sara took so much time and effort to really investigate what happened and was able to justify it all (even though it was completely unnecessary to begin with). This article definitely cleared up the air and throughly addressed the entire situation from the students' view, rabbi Bryks view, and the communitys' view.

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