Malky Wigder Alleges Sexual Harassment by Rabbi Ephraim Bryks

Rabbi Ephraim Bryks (born around 1954) was accused of sexually abusing boys and girls in Canada in cases that got a lot of publicity on CBC and American media. He dodged conviction but also lost libel cases against the networks that broadcast the story. Eventually, his former synagogue in Winnipeg stripped him of his emeritus title. and removed a plaque commending his service to them.

After returning to the US he ran a yeshiva for children from the former Soviet Union.

Eventually he was cut off from pulpit positions because of  his reputation. He was also induced to resign from the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) in 2003 and the Rabbinical Board of Queens (Vaad Harabonim) rather than face charges according to a report in the Jewish Week (NY) in 2010.

Nevertheless he presents himself as a rabbi, a marriage counselor and a convener of his own rabbinical court (though no other rabbis are listed by name). Stories of his attempts to use these roles to sexually exploit women are widespread on the grapevine.

Approximately ten years ago, Rabbi Yosef Blau, the senior spiritual advisor at the Yeshiva University seminary, publicly declared:

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 Blau confirmed to me that he still stands by that position in emails and discussions over the last 3 months.

Malky Wigder posted (6/10/18) on Facebook this description of his sex harassment and behavior after he offered her free help in dealing with a rabbinical court in connection with her divorce. With her consent I am posting her full account.

Malky Wigder’s Account

About a year after my divorce, my ex-husband summoned me to bais din [rabbinical court] (a pattern of court-bais din- rinse-repeat that lasted for about a decade). I couldn’t afford a toen [rabbinic court lawyer], which is why I had been stuck with an atrociously unfair and unenforceable separation agreement in the first place. At that time I somehow got in touch with an attorney who was doing pro bono work for women in need of a get [religious divorce]. She referred me to a toen whom she recommended highly, and indicated he sometimes reduced his fees for single moms. I reached out to him, and he said that in my case, he would waive the fee altogether. We agreed that he would pick me up from my home to appear in front of Bais Din.

His name was Ephraim Bryks.

On the day of the hearing, as I was getting into his car, out of habit I went to sit in the backseat, as I always would with an unrelated male driver. He told me he wasn’t a Chossid and I should go sit in the front. That must be normal for more modern people, I surmised, and complied (compliance was a lifelong habit I had yet to kick).

As we drove to the bais din, he said something strange. “Let’s make a deal,” he proposed. “I won’t believe anything they say about you, and you won’t believe anything they say about me.” RED FLAG RED FLAG! Well… not to naive, innocent, twenty-eight year old me. I didn’t even wonder what they might be saying about him. I knew my ex was going around saying I went to “bad places,” and when pressed he admitted it was the Lakewood Public Library. So I wasn’t too concerned.

Somewhere in a container filled with legal papers, I have a notebook where Bryks jotted down little quips and jokes to crack me up during the proceedings. I felt reassured that I was in good hands. The hearing went well for me, and there was going to be a follow-up.

Some days later, he called to say he had some papers to drop off, or pick up, or review – some pretext that didn’t quite make sense in the age of fax machines and him living in Queens while I lived in Boro Park. But once again I agreed, unsuspecting.

He drops the papers on the dining room table, grabs my hand, and begins to pull me towards the bedroom. I’m so disoriented and confused, it takes me a minute to process what’s happening, and by then he’s throwing me onto my bed and trying to kiss me.

That snapped me out of my inertia, and I jumped up, telling him to get out of my house. The next few minutes are a blur, as I was in utter shock, but he did leave and I sat behind the locked door, shaking, still bewildered.

For days and nights he called and called and called, left messages, banged on my door, left a case of wine at my door, walked all around the perimeter of the house, knocking on windows, yelling into my bedroom window to let him in. I never responded, but I also didn’t report this to a soul. I was ashamed and horrified and overwhelmed by a sense of powerlessness. I have words for these behaviors now – assault, harassment, stalking. I didn’t then. Or it just didn’t compute. This incident had followed years of harassment, stalking and terror by my ex and his stooges, and I just accepted that all I could do was hide and shudder.

I hired a new toen. Everyone wanted to know what happened to that really good one who was working for free. Why am I asking for loans to pay for the new guy? (Fun fact: I had sold my engagement ring, the only piece of jewelry I had been given as a kallah [bride], for $500 to pay a well-known toen, who took my money and then spent the hour telling me that my ex had already approached him and I was screwed).

Here’s the thing I didn’t know at the time, and only found out as my ex-husband and his family began to tell this to everyone who would listen, as proof of my irresponsible parenting. He told it to my daughter’s therapist, the judge, the bais din – he just didn’t think to tell me. It seems I had unwittingly hired a known and prolific sexual predator. My daughter’s therapist accosted me one day, handed me a video tape and ordered me to go and watch it in the rec room. It was a horrific documentary about this man’s past, which I was ordered to sit and watch while my little kids were in the room with me. The therapist demanded to know why I was exposing my children to a pedophile. I assured her my children never met him. I never told her what had happened to me.

(On that note, keep your kids away from Bilah Bendet at the JBFCS).

I’ve reached out to a contact at the CBC to see if he can get his hands on a copy of the video I saw that day, but meanwhile this link contains a transcript. [also see this]

I later found out he had been going from one yeshiva to another, one congregation to another, one rabbinical council after another. Was eventually ejected for his misconduct and he always seemed to land somewhere else.

Recently I heard that he’s been getting involved in conversions, and has a mikveh [ritual immersion bath used in conversion and for other purposes] in his home.

From the above article, from 2010: “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 [Jewish law] 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.”

 

OTHER LINKS ABOUT RABBI EPHRAIM BRYKS

THE STORY THAT CONTINUES TO HAUNT OUR COMMUNITY: RABBI BRYKS TO BE SUBJECT MATTER OF EPISODE OF NEW DOCUMENTARY SERIES FOR VISION T.V.:  FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER RABBI HENRY BALSER GOES ON THE RECORD RE: HIS ROLE IN THIS SAGA in Winnipeg Jewish Review

https://nypost.com/2002/03/31/queens-yeshiva-boss-is-a-molester-boys-mom/

YouTube Videos, mostly his anti-zionist talks

Luke Ford: here,

Awareness Center

 

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6 thoughts on “Malky Wigder Alleges Sexual Harassment by Rabbi Ephraim Bryks

  1. Why no posts about the others that Malky Wigder mentioned and Rabbi Yakov Horowitz’s refusal to talk to her?

See Commenting policy ( http://wp.me/pFbfD-Kk )

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