The Families of Serial Sex Abusers and the Children Who Are Forever Damaged by Their Sons and Brothers, Bryski
by LostMessiah, March 9, 2016
Rabbi Mordechai Meir HaKohen Bryski z”l died on January 8, 2012 at the age of 88 and left behind a very, very large family. We imagine that many within that family have done great things for Judaism and the Chabad movement. However, if we are to follow Genesis 4:9, And the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” we must ask ourselves where were the brothers of Wall of Shame member Rabbi Jacob (Yaacov) Bryski when he was molesting children at a yeshiva in Crown Heights, Brooklyn?
It is in honor of the courage of those children that we are pursuing this further.
To name of few of those courageous survivors:
Shneur Borenstein, read his story from September 18, 2011, here.
Ozer Simon’s story can be found here:
In an article from Newsweek, dated March 3, 2016, quoted and highlighted in a number of posts on this site and others, entitled: CHILD ABUSE ALLEGATIONS PLAGUE THE HASIDIC COMMUNITY, author Elijah Wolfson accounts the details of Ozer Simon and Sheur Borenstein and their abuse at the hands of Rabbi Jacob Bryski, principal of Yeshiva Chanoch Lena’ar (“YCL”).
Yeshivah Chonoch Lenaar (which translates from Hebrew into Education for the Youth) was established by Rabbi Yaakov Bryski whose goal was “to give boys with little or no formal Jewish education an opportunity to study and learn about their heritage.” According to the Newsweek article YCL was a boarding school for children who were expelled from other Yeshivas. “Chanoch Lena’ar, he says, was a “dumping ground” for kids having problems in religious school—a place for all the misfits.”
In a Blogpost, Imamother.com (byline, “Connecting Frum Women) on Sunday, November 1, 2009 at 3:49pm on blogger asks:
“Hello all of you out there!!
Can anyone recommend Yeshiva Chanoch Lenaar in Crowns Heights?
Do you know anyone who learnt there?
Do you know if they are warm and caring and if the boys there are nice or do you have behavior problems?
Is it expensive? Overcrowded?
Any info would be greatly appreciated since I am seriously thinking of sending my 14 yo son.
The first response she got was posted 4 minutes later at 3:53pm and said, “I fed those kids for 16 loooooong years. I liked them, but kinds from anash they weren’t (usually). I don’t know what kind of boys they get now.”
When the original blogger inquired at 4:21 pm about the meaning of the word “anash” another blogger wrote, “The boys in Chanoch Lanaar are not generally kids who grew up in Lubavitcher homes. Or they are kids who went off the derech, and are coming back.”
The word anash from Albanian translates to “sideways.”
In old Hebrew Aramaic Lexicon however it translates as follows:
- “to be weak, sick, frail
- to be incurable
- to be sick
- desperate, incurable, desperately wicked, woeful, very sick (pass participle) (metaph.)
- (Niphal) to be sick”
At 9:18pm, that same day, another poster finally commented about YCL and experiences she had and wrote:
“My brother was there for a few months and hated it so he left. He wasn’t off the derech, just behind on learning, but if I remember correctly, he was not happy at all with how he was treated. They would lock them out of th dorms to keep them in yeshiva, and then out of yeshiva to keep them in the dorms, and the whole yeshiva just had an air of distrust towards the boys. But this was a few years ago and it could have changed since then. “
At some point in 2010/2011 YCL closed and was to be reopened as a new institution. It was renamed “Yeshivah Mordechai Meir” in honor of Yaakov Bryski’s father. In an announcement regarding its re-opening, the caption states:
“Yeshiva Chanoch Lena’ar got a new name, which is now prominently displayed on a sign in front of its building on Eastern Parkway and Albany Ave. The Yeshiva was renamed after Rabbi Mordechai Meir Bryski, father of the Yeshiva’s dean Rabbi Yaakov Bryski, and the new sign was installed just in time for his Shloshim.”
According to Newsweek:
So Borenstein and his father, along with an attorney, traveled to Brooklyn and arranged a meeting with Bryski. During that conversation, which they taped, Bryski confessed to the sexual abuse, and they cut a deal. The Borensteins said they’d keep quiet about it under three conditions: Bryski would pay for Schneur Borenstein’s therapy, get professional help and—most important—stay away from children.
At first, Bryski stuck to the agreement. Chanoch Lena’ar didn’t reopen the next school year. But in 2012, Crown Heights community blogs began reporting Bryski was opening up a new school, in the same location, under a different name. Despite Bryski’s prominence, Borenstein and Simon—now working together—were undaunted. They tracked down a list of the new school’s board of directors. Simon’s mother started making calls, alerting them to the allegations. The school never reopened.
In 2014, Jewish Community Watch’s Facebook Page comments that Rabbi Yaakov Bryski is seen dancing with children. The FB post, asks some poinient question:
Are we willing to experience momentary discomfort to demand that Bryski, and other known abusers, not be around children?
Again, our Rabbonim have repeatedly told us, that doing nothing violates a clear Lav in the Torah. It also sends a few messages:
He is not a danger to children.
We do not care about the pain of their past victims.
Why should any victim come forward and experience the pain of speaking about their past when a community does nothing.
In the Borenstein settlement, Bryski was to be kept away from children. However, clearly that was not enforced.
The Bryski family, like many of prominence, were able to protect their own with cross-claims in a civil suit, denials of wrongdoing or inexplicable failures to pursue criminal suits, which is the case with Bryski and Shneur Borenstein. The Bryski family is not alone in a long list of prominent Hasidic Rabbis and Rabbinic bloodlines who have members of their family accused of abuse; and which protect the family member instead of the victims. The victims deserve better.
As an interesting side note, in the Catholic world, there is also a Bryski, Reverend James Bryski, accused of pedophilia. His abuses of children went on for 30 years, not dissimilar from many of the stories of abuse reported within the Hasidic community. Unlike the Hassidic Jewish world, Reverend Bryski was characterized as a “serial pedophile.” That characterization alone, by the press, the law enforcement officials, other victims, was a term of validation. It’s absence in the Hasidic context has not gone unnoticed.
On November, 25, 2013, FailedMessiah.com reported on a probation sentence given to a pedophile, Yosef Donin, who sported an 8 page charge sheet. The disgusting injustice of a probation sentence aside, if we use Reverend Bryski as an archetype, the term serial pedophile would have been more than warranted.
Reverend Brysky may or may not be related to the Jewish Bryski bloodline. The fact remains, however, that his victims are getting justice, where similar scenarios in the Hasidic Jewish world remain enshrouded in secrecy or have gotten brushed under the carpet.
It may be about time that sexually and physically abused Hasidic children are provided the same lexicon for the characterization of their abusers. It is unquestionably past due that the protections received by their Catholic counterparts, whose numbers are far fewer, be bestowed upon them. These children, victims of horrific abuses deserve better.