It’s Hard to Keep a Bad Man Down

Below is a post  about Rabbi Tully Bryks (no known relation to Rabbi Ephraim Bryks) which first appeared today (3/3/16) in Hannah Katsman’s blog,  A Mother in Israel. It appears with the kind permission of the author, who shares only her first name, Shoshanna, and the permission of Hannah Katsman. It is yet another story of how folks forced out of education because of questionable conduct continually try to creep back in and the tales they spin.—- Yerachmiel Lopin

Rehabilitating the Reputation of
Rabbi Tully Bryks–by Shoshanna

In December, 2014, I [Hannah Katsman] posted about the attempt by Rabbi Tully Bryks to start a new seminary. It was one of my most controversial posts ever, as Bryks has many supporters among the English-speaking community here in Israel who feel that an injustice has been done.  

Ever since then, my friend Shoshanna has followed the story as new posts supporting him appeared on the internet, disappeared, and then reappeared.

Here is Shoshanna’s analysis, in the form of a guest post. She has requested to withhold her last name.   —- Hannah Katsman

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Someone is desperate to rehabilitate the reputation of Rabbi Tully Bryks. So desperate that they will resort to manipulative and deceptive tactics in order to try to clear his name.

It’s not my goal here to establish what happened in May 2013 in Bar-Ilan, beyond what was reported at the time in the newspaper or by Rabbi Bryks himself. Rather, I intend to expose the inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and dishonest practices of the recent public relations campaign to clear his name.

On May 2, 2013, Haaretz published an article about Rabbi Tully Bryks, the director of the Israel Experience program, which had an arrangement whereby students could study at Bar-Ilan University. Rabbi Bryks was relieved of his duties when it was found out that he had authorized the installation of hidden cameras in some of the girls’ dormitory apartments. The article also mentions that according to sources at Bar-Ilan, the Board of Directors was expected to “give him the option to resign” at the time they went to press.

According to Rabbi Bryks’s Facebook page, he submitted a letter of resignation the same day that the article was published. In the letter, he explained that he had placed the hidden cameras because of complaints regarding maintenance staff, and that he acted with “legal advice.” He acknowledged that students were distressed by his actions, and that in retrospect “it would have been prudent to make everyone aware.” Bar-Ilan’s comment at the time was “Whatever reason he had for doing this, it was inappropriate.” The school, at the insistence of the students, requested that the police conduct an investigation into the rabbi’s actions. Continue reading

Good Riddance, YU President Richard Joel; Why wait to 2018?

YU Pres. Richard Joel & Pres. Emeritus Norman Lamm

Richard Joel (L)

Richard Joel, Yeshiva University (YU) president for the last 13 years, just announced his resignation in an email to the entire YU community (full text below). The email does not specify the effective date but states that he is asking the board to form a search committee for a successor. It would be nice if he had specified an effective date.

His announcement was timed to coincide with YU’s losing control of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (due in part to mismanagement and to Joel’s managing to lose $1.3 billion). Fixing YU will depend on getting rid of the board that enabled Joel and was in some cases profiting from the problematic investments. Continue reading

My Empathy Questions for Richard Joel

YU Pres. Richard Joel &  Pres. Emeritus Norman Lamm

YU Pres. Richard Joel &
Pres. Emeritus Norman Lamm

From the Frum Follies archives 9/3/13. Still pertinent.

Richard Joel, imagine the principal of one of your high schools was pressing ham sandwiches against the lips of many students. Would you say the incident should be ignored to protect the reputation of this principal who was clearly suffering from some mental illness? If you fired him or her, would it be OK with you if some other synagogue or orthodox school hired them?

Richard Joel, imagine several physicians in the Albert Einstein medical system systematically and maliciously botched dozens of critical operations over several decades which left their patients permanently disabled. Furthermore, imagine dozens of past and current staff, supervisors and administrators violated their ethical code and looked the other way instead of forcing immediate corrective action. Would you be content to announce, “Henceforth we will behave well but we should avoid talking about what happened?”

Richard Joel, imagine your grandchild was seriously disabled for life because of someone else’s reckless negligence. Imagine the offender could avoid paying a single penny because of some legal loophole. Would the lawyer in you admire the opposing attorney or would you rage against the injustice? Imagine the offending party was a worthwhile not-for-profit institution which claimed paying the settlement would force it to trim back its program budget by one percent. Would that change your reaction? Would your reaction depend on the percent of the budget that was affected? At what percentage would you forgive them for their recalcitrance?

Richard Joel, Continue reading

Pelcovitz and Leading Orthodox Rabbis Line Up Behind Sex Offender Evan Zauder

Guest Post by David Cheifetz

David Cheifetz

David Cheifetz

David Cheifetz is a resident of Teaneck, New Jersey. He is also the founder of a new non-profit organization, Mi Li – Who Is For Me, designed to educate the Jewish community about sexual abuse of children and provide support to victims and their families.

About a year ago I came forward in the pages of The Jewish Week and shared my experience as a victim of sexual abuse by a senior member of the staff at Camp Dora Golding in 1979. I also had the opportunity to address the annual conference of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) on the topic. In both instances and in other articles and venues, I spoke about the challenge that we face in the Orthodox community regarding a pervasive tolerance of sexual abuse of children.

This is not limited to any corner of the Orthodox community – It exists in the Modern Orthodox world just as it exists in the Ultra-Orthodox world. And while there is a growing recognition of this scourge, there has been little progress in addressing the underlying culture that tolerates abuse and excuses Orthodox pedophiles. Indeed, when someone is accused of abuse, and even found guilty of committing heinous acts of sexual abuse against minors, many communal leaders continue to bend over backwards to show Rachmunus (mercy and empathy) to the perpetrators, and little regard to the victims.

Evan Zauder

Evan Zauder

The terrible phenomenon has been highlighted once again this past week, coinciding with the scheduled sentencing of Evan Zauder. Evan Zauder, was a teacher at the Modern Orthodox Day School Yeshivat Noam located in Paramus New Jersey. Zauder also had a long history of working with Jewish youth, including as a synagogue youth director and participant in numerous youth related programs. In 2012, Zauder was arrested for possessing child pornography, and was subsequently found by the US Government to have distributed child pornography as well. He was also found to have engaged in illicit sexual relationships with underage males that involved graphic discussion, mutual masturbation Continue reading

Is Richard Joel Incompetent or Just Covering Up?

By now the world knows that Yeshiva University (YU) hired a convicted child molester, Akiva Roth, as a Hebrew instructor. This was rank incompetence and a PR disaster. This comes on top of YU’s failure to keep their promise to produce an open report about the sex abuse in their HS by George Finkelstein, Macy Gordon and Richard (Ricky) Andron. Instead the report dwelled on their terrific new policies from preventing this from happening again.

It took them four days to announce Akiva Roth’s resignation. That is way too long for an institution in the limelight for sex abuse.  Their belated press release states:

After an extensive review of this matter, Mr. Roth is no longer employed by the University. To our knowledge, he has not engaged in any inappropriate conduct during his time at YU. While all appointments are subject to thorough background checks, the University erred in this case, permitting the new hire to begin teaching before the screening process had been completed. Yeshiva University will continue to re-evaluate its hiring processes and work to close any gaps in our procedure.

YU President Richard Joel was hired for his administrative and fund-raising skills. But he is also screwing that up. On September 9th, Moody’s downgraded YU’s bonds. The Forward’s reporting of the downgrade focused on the ongoing sex abuse litigation. However there was a lot more to it. Their summary states:

Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded Yeshiva University’s rating to Baa2 from Baa1 and kept the rating on review for downgrade. The rating action reflects the university’s weak liquidity with a full draw on operating lines of credit, expected covenant breach on lines of credit Continue reading