Friday, May 03, 2013

Case of Rabbi Tully Bryks

Case of Rabbi Tully Bryks

Bet Shemesh, Israel
Director, The Israel Experience Program, Bar-Ilan University - Ramat Efal, Israel
Former Regional Director, National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY) - Florida
(Finance Degree) Touro College - New York, NY
Westchester Hebrew High School - Mamaroneck, NY


Rabbi Tully Bryks was relieved of his duties after it was discovered that he had secretly installed surveillance cameras in the girls' dormitory associated with his program.

If you attended any program that Rabbi Tully Bryks was involved and you feel he abused or violated your privacy, please contact The Awareness Center immediately.  We want to make sure you get the help you need to heal and also help you connect with individuals who could help you explore any possible legal recourses with you have.

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Table of Contents

2008
  1. Bar Ilan University Makes Key Stop In South Florida (12/05/2008)
  2. NCSY and Bar Ilan Team Up to Offer Israel Experience (12/24/2008)

2009
  1. NCSY's Bar Ilan One Year Program Staffed By Haredi Kiruv Workers (12/29/2009)
    The Kvetcher's report - JSU’s Bar Ilan Program All Aish’d Up (12/29/2009)

2011
  1. "Not Every Experience is a Good Experience...(05/11/2011)

2013
  1. Resignation Letter  (05/02/2013)
  2. Director of Orthodox gap-year program at Bar-Ilan fired for installing cameras in girls' dorms - See Below (05/02/2013)
  3. The Israel Experience program, Bar-Ilan University - See Below (05/02/2013)
  4. Women's Schools in Israel - See Below (05/02/2013)
  5. Israel Experience Staff - See Below  (05/03/2013)
  6. Rabbi Plants Cameras in Girls Dorm at Bar Ilan University  (05/03/2013)

Also see:
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Bar Ilan University Makes Key Stop In South Florida
By Shelley Benveniste
Jewish Press - December 5, 2008

The founder and director of a new gap year program at Bar Ilan University has made South Florida a key stop on a tour of North America promoting the new program that is intended to buck the trend in falling gap year numbers.


Rabbi Tully Bryks visited high school students across South Florida on November 17 to 20, making stops in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and North Miami Beach as part of a tour of North America that will take him to more than 20 cities.

Rabbi Bryks was formerly regional director for NCSY in South Florida for 15 years, leaving the post in 2008 to open ‘Israel XP’ at Bar Ilan University’s Ramat Gan campus near Tel Aviv.


“The new program Israel XP is designed to appeal specifically to students looking for more of a balanced year in Israel, where students can embrace Jewish studies in a relaxed campus setting,” Rabbi Bryks explains. There are regular tours around the country as well as professional internship options accessing different sectors of society. To address financial and career pressures, students can also earn around a year’s worth of academic credits that can be transferred to most universities across North America.

“An inspiring year in Israel strengthens Jewish values ahead of college years and helps unlock a young person’s potential. We don’t want any Jewish students to have to miss out. The idea for this program was really born in South Florida and I’m excited to promote it to students in the area."


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NCSY and Bar Ilan Team Up to Offer Israel Experience
Orthodox Union - December 24, 2008


Those teens have a virtual cornucopia of choices to choose from: the number of seminaries, yeshivas, and national-service/learning programs that exist in Israel increase every year, yet some still cannot find a program tailored to meet their needs. Some teens may not want to spend the entire day learning Torah, while others may want fully-accredited courses to transfer over to schools back home. In response to this need, NCSY and Bar-Ilan University will offer a new and unique co-ed program for those students, “Israel Experience,” which will combine classes in one of Israel’s top universities with an extracurricular program incorporating popular NCSY style trips and activities. 

Rabbi Steven Burg, International Director of NCSY, declared, “When Bar-Ilan approached NCSY to discuss a jointly-run program for North American teens, I knew that many NCSY members would benefit from its unique aspects. There’s a real need for a post-high school university program in Israel under Orthodox auspices, and NCSY is proud to help fill that need.” 

Rabbi Ari Kahn, Director of Foreign Student Programs at Bar-Ilan, explained, “My first choice for this partnership was the Orthodox Union. It is one of the largest, most influential organizations on the American Jewish scene today.”

Rabbi Tully Bryks, currently the NCSY Director of the South Florida Region, will make aliyah this summer and serve as the Director and Dean of the program. Rabbi Burg said of Rabbi Bryks, “He has a powerful combination of creative talents and a warm personality which has drawn thousands of students to him.”

Rabbi Bryks stated, “This program is a great opportunity for those students who wish to continue their academic pursuits in a university but also have a strong desire to explore their Jewish roots and connect to their homeland. I am pleased to be a part of this initiative as these students make their mark on the Jewish people.”

Participants in the “Israel Experience” program will have a complete university experience studying in Bar-Ilan, a world-respected institution located in Ramat Gan, just outside of Tel Aviv, where they can take classes taught strictly in English or combine English courses with Hebrew-taught classes. Credits earned at Bar-Ilan will be easily transferable back home in American colleges. Participants will live in student dorms on campus; have a choice of internships and participating in community service activities; and participate in NCSY Shabbatons and trips throughout the school year.

Bar-Ilan is ranked among the top universities in the world. It houses the Middle East’s largest English-language library; over 30,000 students from countries across the world; a large Jewish Studies curriculum with over 1,500 different courses; and of course, the added benefit of being in Israel. 

Participants in Israel Experience will go on trips and Shabbatons throughout the school year. The trips will range from historical and religious sites, and include activities such as skiing, ATVing, camel riding, and rappelling. “As we explore Israel and enjoy these activities, we’re also going to be learning about the Jewish significance behind each location we visit. This will truly help make the year in Israel a living experience,” explained Rabbi Bryk.

“Israel Experience” is limited to 100 students, and while there is rolling admission, the program is already 60 percent filled. 

The cost will be $18-20,000, comparable to the current tuition rate of Israeli seminaries and yeshivas and less than half the price of a year’s tuition at most American private universities. Financial aid is available to those who qualify; there will be both need-based and academic-based grants, as well as an early registration discount. 

For more information on financial aid and details about program components, visit Israelxp.com or e-mailinfo@israelxp.com



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NCSY's Bar Ilan One Year Program Staffed By Haredi Kiruv Workers
By Shmarya Rosenberg
Failed Messiah Blog - December 29, 2009


[UPDATED] Teachers' affiliations appear hidden by NCSY.

Please see the two updates and the retraction posted below.

Here's the background:
• NCSY has a stealth sister organization called JSU – the Jewish Student Union. It has chapters in hundreds of public high schools in America.
• NCSY and the JSU 'teamed up' with Bar Ilan University to offer what appears to be a one year program in Israel for high school graduates. I write "appears to be" because the Israel Experience website is light on academic details like class schedules and courses offered, but is heavy on pictures of 18 year olds having fun.
• The program's faculty page skips the Aish or Ohr Somayach affiliations of most of the teachers. Most of the faculty are, however, Aish and Ohr Somayach related. (David Kelsey exposes some, but not all, of them.)
• Perhaps the most egregious of these stealth haredi kiruv workers is Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky. Orlovsky teaches at Ohr Somayach and Neve Yerushalayim.
Orlofsky is also an unrepentant major force behind the attacks and ban against Rabbi Natan Slifkin four years ago.
Slifkin and his books were banned because he argued two things: 1) the universe is far older than 6000 years and, 2) the sages of the Talmud made errors with regard to science. Both points had previously been made by Rishonim (great medieval rabbis) and by a few Achronim (great post-medieval rabbis). 
That did not stop Orlofsky and his fellow travelers – including Rabbi Leib Tropper, who is now enmeshed in a sex and abuse of power scandal – from getting "the gedolim" (current elderly haredi rabbinic leaders) to ban Slifkin for "heresy."
In other words, the OU's youth arm and its stealth 'student union' hired a haredi rabbi who viciously attacked Modern Orthodox belief teaching secular and newly religious kids.
Rabbi Slifkin is not listed as faculty, even though he lives in Israel, only a 45 minute ride from Bar Ilan.
Why so few actual Modern Orthodox teachers?

As I told Kelsey last night, the reason goes beyond a slimy attempt to trick secular kids into becoming haredi or right wing Modern Orthodox.

Because of terrible decisions made by the OU, NCSY, and Yeshiva University in the years following Rabbi Joseph B. Soleveichik's final illness, Modern Orthodoxy doesn't really have many of its own kiruv workers. It also does not have a beginner's ba'al teshuva yeshiva or seminary.

The rabbinic leaders of YU were happy to let Chabad, Aish and Ohr Somayach handle outreach and, for similar reasons, they did almost the same thing with day school teachers for Modern Orthodox schools.

Barring a palace coup or a RICO investigation, we'll probably never really know what the OU does with its money. One thing, though, is clear – none of it went into beginner's level ba'al teshuva education programs, a Modern Orthodox Aish HaTorah, for example.

YU suffered through bad economic times, recovered, and grew. It's beginner's program was cancelled many years ago and only recently reinstated.

Throughout the long gap without a beginner's program, YU, its yeshiva faculty and its students did little to fill gap.

At any rate, NCSY has again opted for deceit over honesty – something especially troubling for an organization that covered up Rabbi Baruch Lanner's abuse for almost 30 years. And that is something that should give parents – Modern Orthodox or non-Orthodox – pause.

The Kvetcher's report (see Below).

Program Staff List as a PDF file:

UPDATE 12-30-09 7:10 am CST –

Rabbi Ari Kahn writes:
A couple of issues regarding Bar Ilan.



As of this year Bar Ilan University has a working relationship with "Israel Experience" which is a new independent organization, which has received the blessings of the OU.



The director is Rabbi Tully Bryks who has a great deal of experience working with NCSY and JSU.


The idea of this relationship was to create a strategic partnership between Bar Ilan and the Israel Experience. The OU gave their "blessing" to the creation of the Israel experience, but this new entity does have complete independence.

When the program was first created and various speakers were included on the website, this list included people who were asked to speak.

Rabbi Orlofsky does not teach on the program. At one point there was a discussion of him giving an informal lecture, this has not happened.

The Lecturers on the program are a diverse group of individuals including:

Dr Gil Ariel
Professor Yosef Berstein
Rabbi Tully Bryks
Dr Mike Cohen
Dr Gabriel Danzig
Dr Adam Ferziger
Dr Sy Gottleib
Professor Guttman
Rabbi Ari Kahn
Dr Daniel Kahn
Rabbi Mordichai Machils
Devorah Mantel
Rabbi Tom (Yosef Chaim) Meyer
Rabbi Adam Siegel
Dr Zvi Shimon
Dr.Eliezer Shore
Dr Chana Tannenbaum
Tamar Weissman
Dr Francis Shalit

The idea is to provide a diverse experience; these individuals come from diverse backgrounds and disciplines.

Additionally the Israel Experience runs informal evening programming and weekends. Again the staff here is diverse.
 I believe the combination of the formal and informal programs and the various aspects of the program will give students a broad wholesome experience.

As far as myself, I am amused about the discussion of what I am – if someone figures it out then please let me know. In the meantime I suggest buying my books, if possible multiple copies and read them from cover to cover. (Or look at my website where the material is freehttp://rabbiarikahn.com/)

Rabbi Ari Kahn

UPDATE 12-30-09 3:25 pm CST –
Despite a website that does little to induce confidence or detail the NCSY/JSU’s Israel Experience Program at Bar Ilan University, the reality appears to be quite different than I reported.
…[t]he curriculum schedule sent by Kahn appears to be a real Judaic studies program, and a far more serious program than anything offered at the ultra-Orthodox institutions that have been favored by NCSY for decades for public school graduates (and they continue to quietly send students to these institutions). Most importantly, Hebrew is emphasized and mandatory. This is itself a major indicator if a program seeks general Jewish education and literacy for public school grads, or whether it seeks specific ultra-Orthodox indoctrination.…
I was wrong. This program is indeed nothing the likes of the Hashkafa intensive “fluff” of Aish HaTorah.
The NCSY-JSU-Bar Ilan program seems to be the kind of program I would support.
Just clean up your website, gentleman, and stop placing stumbling blocks before the visually impaired.
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The Kvetcher's report - JSU’s Bar Ilan Program All Aish’d Up

The Kvetcher - December 29, 2009

December 29, 2009   Kiruv  
New program, but mostly same Kiruv clowns

NCSY has been touting their Bar Ilan program as proof of their newly Big Tent Orthodoxy to include Modern Orthodox (albeit, right-wing Modern Orthodox) options, and not just ultra-Orthodox and haredi options, as was the case for DECADES until blogs exposed their favored path for public school teens.

But on a closer look, it’s the usual fahfrumpteh suspects. The staff at Israel Experience is seriously Aish’d up. Though JSU/NCSY has been oh-so-careful not to reveal that in their resumes.

Why not? Why would they whitewash that? Why would NCSY ever not reveal something in the name of transparency? How unlike NCSY.

Faculty and featured lecturers include these fine frum folks:
Lawrence Keleman, author of “Permission to Believe,” which is ripped to shreds here.
Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky: He’s not from Aish. He’s from Ohr Somayach! Still there too. Why wouldn’t they mention that? After all, nothing quite says “Modern” Orthodox like the Dark Light does. There was some controversy as well when an email surfaced with him jumping on the anti-Slifkin bandwagon.

Meir Balovsky: He’s an Aish dude, but again, not mentioned on the resume.

Gila Manolson: She’s from Aish. I guess there wasn’t anything else to put in the bio, so they mentioned that about Manolson.

Gerald Schroeder: He’s an Aish guy and a physicist who tries to reconcile creationist literalism and science. Most are not impressed. Not impressed at all.

Rabbi Yosef Chaim (Thomas) Meyer: He’s not an Aish guy! He just got his smicha from Rabbi Weinberg, and made a few tapes. Funny how he didn’t use the name “Thomas” on those…
You don’t say…

UPDATE: This post turned out to be wrong in significant ways. Please see retraction.

Retraction on JSU’s Israel Experience ProgramThe Kevtch - December 30, 2009 
Despite a website that does little to induce confidence or detail the NCSY/JSU’s Israel Experience Program at Bar Ilan University, the reality appears to be quite different than I reported.

As Rabbi Ari Kahn, the Academic Dean of Israel Experience and the Director of Foreign Student Programs at Bar Ilan University noted,

My having a MA in Talmud – which is a real degree, allows me to teach courses which are academic and approved by the Talmud department (and based on peer review I am a senior lecturer in the University), if you wish I can send you syllabus and sources covered, this is not “fluff.”
Indeed, the curriculum schedule sent by Kahn appears to be a real Judaic studies program, and a far more serious program than anything offered at the ultra-Orthodox institutions that have been favored by NCSY for decades for public school graduates (and they continue to quietly send students to these institutions). Most importantly, Hebrew is emphasized and mandatory. This is itself a major indicator if a program seeks general Jewish education and literacy for public school grads, or whether it seeks specific ultra-Orthodox indoctrination.

Our most bitter point of contention over haredi influence was drawn from the Israel Experience website’s promotion of Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky, a long-time NCSY advisor now at the haredi Ohr Somayach. Orlofsky denigrated Rabbi Slifkin over the controversial idea that the earth isn’t really less than 6,000 years old, a concept perceived as heresy and an act of defiance in the face of the haredi rabbinical leaders. His inclusion was a red flag. But Rabbi Kahn as noted in his comment,
Rabbi Orlofsky does not teach on the program. At one point there was a discussion of him giving an informal lecture, this has not happened.
That’s good. Why he was considered in the first place is beyond me.
Kahn wrote,
And though I have taught in Aish – find out who I am before you attack, my classes are my own – I do not teach “Aish” material.
I concede that accusing someone of teaching “Aish material” when he is actually a bonafide educator was a raw move on my part, and inaccurate. I should have done more due diligence. I will edit my previous post. I would like to apologize to Rabbi Ari Kahn and to NCSY/JSU. I will try to reach out more to NCSY and the JSU in the future on issues like this before publishing.

Overall, this program does appear to be very different than those of Aish HaTorah, which boasts of a heavy emphasis on “Aish Hashkafa,” and whose classes even in their sample schedule for their intermediate Israel program include “Being Real with Yourself ” and “Topics in Jewish Thought.”

I was wrong. This program is indeed nothing like the Hashkafa-intensive “fluff” of Aish HaTorah.

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Resignation Letter
May 2, 2013








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Director of Orthodox gap-year program at Bar-Ilan fired for installing cameras in girls' dorms
By Judy Maltz
Haaretz - May 2, 2013
Rabbi Tully Bryks, director of The Israel Experience, claimed hidden cameras were installed due to complaints about maintenance staff; he apologized for his 'lack of judgment.'
The director of an Orthodox gap-year program at Bar-Ilan University was relieved of his duties this week, after it was discovered that he had secretly installed surveillance cameras in the girls' dormitory. Police are investigating the affair.

Rabbi Tully Bryks, director of The Israel Experience, a program that serves mainly high-school graduates from the United States, had installed two surveillance cameras in clocks hung in the hallway of the girls' dormitory.

The surveillance cameras were discovered within hours by several stunned students living in adjacent rooms, who immediately lodged a complaint with program administrators citing severe invasion of privacy and who demanded police intervention.
Bryks was soon thereafter relieved of all his responsibilities at the program and barred from any contact with students.

In a letter addressed to staff, students and their parents, Bryks apologized for what he termed his "poor judgment," saying the reason he had installed the cameras was because of complaints lodged against maintenance staff working in the dormitory.

The board of directors of The Israel Experience program is expected to convene within the next day and, as one source close to the matter said, will "give him the option to resign."

Haaretz contacted Bryks for a response but none was forthcoming by press time.

Meanwhile, Bryks has been replaced by three new acting directors, all fellow administrators at the program: Rabbi Ari Yablok, Rabbi Eli Menaged and Meir Balovsky.
"Whatever reason he had for doing this, it was inappropriate," said Yablok, campus director of The Israel Experience. "That is the reason we took action as soon as we found out about this."

Yablok said the surveillance cameras were not found in the bathrooms or the bedrooms, but only in the hallways. They were not found in the boys' dormitory either.

He said administrators were in full support of student demands to launch a police probe into the matter. Police are being assisted by a private investigations company. In addition, Yablok said that The Israel Experience is conducting its own internal investigation by board members in order to better understand what happened.

He said that the surveillance cameras were removed as soon as they were discovered and that "we are taking every step possible to ensure the survival of this program and the comfort of our students."

The Israel Experience is a program started four years ago and run by Masa, a joint project of the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency. There are currently 90 students studying in the program. Although they take courses for college credit at Bar-Ilan University, Israel Experience students live in dormitories in a separate campus in Ramat Efal, not far from the main Bar-Ilan University campus.

Before assuming leadership of the program, Bryks served as regional director of the National Conference of Synagogue Youth in Florida. Yablok said this was the first complaint lodged against him "on a matter like this."

In a letter addressed to parents of students on the program, the new acting directors wrote: "We understand that you have entrusted us with the care, supervision and education of your children. We take this responsibility as seriously as possible. We feel the immediate actions that we have taken will ensure that this matter is dealt with in an efficient, professional and responsible way."
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The Israel Experience program, Bar-Ilan University
Bar-Ilan University - May 2, 2013

Left to right: Rabbi Tully Bryks, Dean and Founding Director, Israel Experience, YU President Richard Joel and Rabbi Ari Kahn, Dean, Israel Experience, and Director of Foreign Student Programs at Bar-Ilan University





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Women's Schools in Israel
Ida Crown Jewish Academy - May 3, 2013






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Israel Experience Staff 
Israel Experience - May 3, 2013


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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The news reports indicate that the cameras were installed in the dorm's hallways. Why do you write the synopsis at the top in such a way to lead readers to believe that the cameras were installed in the dorm rooms themselves? While I can't defend the act of installing the cameras in the halls, you're certainly not making matters any better by slanting your reports!

Avi Frier said...

It saddens me greatly to see the way people are reporting on the case of Rabbi Tully Bryks at Bar Ilan University.

Responsible news agencies have made it clear in their reporting that the cameras were installed in the dorm's hallway. Others, unfortunately are sensationalizing the story by conveniently dropping the word "hallways", leading the reader to believe that Rabbi Bryks installed cameras in dorm rooms.

Bryks defends his actions by saying that he had installed the cameras was because of complaints lodged against maintenance staff working in the dormitory. Whether or not you agree with his reasoning---even if you believe he was lying---it is unfair and irresponsible to perpetrate a lie of omission by implying that the cameras were installed in dorm rooms. The cameras were in the public hallway. Tell it like it is!