Rabbi Mordechai Meir HaKoHen Bryski, a torah -educator of hundreds of students over a span of 20-plus-years tenure as a Rebbe in Lubavitcher Yeshiva in New York, Rabbi Bryski was born in the shtetl of Chmielnik, Poland, in 1923, one of six children born to Reb Chaim Elazar HaKohen, a widely respected “Chassidishe Yid” with ties to the Trisker and Aleksander dynasties, and Rochel Tzilka, daughter of the famed Rosh Yeshiva, Horav Yechiel Aaron Weinreb, also known as the Dalashitzer Rov.
Being fortunate to escape Nazi Europe, Rabbi Bryski was dispatched by the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe in 1946 to serve as a spiritual guidance counselor at the Lubavitcher Yeshiva in Montreal, Canada. In 1948, he returned to New York to serve as a melamed at the Lubavitcher Yeshiva in Bedford Stuyvesant. Switching off at various points between 5th, 6th and 7th grades over the course of a teaching career that spanned 23 years, Rabbi Bryski was deeply beloved and respected by his students who numbered into the hundreds over his teaching career. Many are those who speak to this day about the unique warmth, wisdom and sensitivity he displayed as a truly caring and devoted educator.
In 1969, Rabbi Bryski sought the blessings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, to relocate to Crown Heights and to pursue a full time career in real estate, as his earnings as a melamed were not nearly sufficient to meet the large family’s needs. The Rebbe granted his blessings on both counts – on the condition that Rabbi Bryski would always remain involved in Jewish education in one form or another – which he did.
“If I had to encapsulate the life of my father in one sentence, it would probably be that he exemplified the traits of his forebear, Aaron HaKohen, as a man who loved and pursued peace. Indeed, he synthesized the ideals of Tov LaMakom – endearing to G-d’ and ‘Tov Labriyos – endearing to man’ in almost prototypical fashion.
–Rabbi Bryski’s son upon his fathers passing at the age of 88