Ohr Torah Stone appoints new leader

Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Dr. Brander to head organization.

Orly Harari ,

Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander
Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander
Public relations

The Ohr Torah Stone (OTS) network on Wednesday morning announced the appointment of Rabbi Kenneth Brander as the new chancellor.

Rabbi Brander has served for twelve years as Yeshiva University's (YU) Vice President of University and Community. Serving as inaugural David Mitzner Dean of Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future, he also taught rabbinical studies at the university's Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. Rabbi Brander is a member of the Jewish Federations of North America’s Rabbinic Cabinet Round Table, which brings together Jewish community leaders from all denominations to discuss challenging issues affecting the Jewish community and to meet with key members of the Israeli or American government.

Among his other initiatives, Rabbi Brander began a graduate program in advanced Talmudic studies, as well as a women's course in Biblical interpretation, providing a platform for women to play leadership roles in the Jewish community and strengthening the rabbinic placement bureau. He also worked to achieve academic recognition for yeshivas and women's seminaries in Israel, in order to encourage Jewish youth to spend at least one post-secondary year in Israel.

Rabbi Brander worked with a team of professionals and lay leaders to develop a plethora of initiatives to educate the rabbinic couple in the field and to develop strong lay leaders. He helped develop platforms to disseminate Torah including "YU Torah," the largest Torah platform in the Jewish world, and the "Holiday To Go"series read throughout the Jewish world.

Additionally, he created a multitude of opportunities for students to engage in the betterment of society whether around the corner in inner-city public schools or in service to communities around the world culminating with establishing Neal’s Fund, a socio-entrepreneurial fund providing micro-financing grants to students involved in startups that provide services to the Jewish community or general society.

Prior to joining YU in 2005, Rabbi Brander served for 14 years as senior rabbi of the Boca Raton Synagogue, shepherding the Florida congregation from 60 families to more than 600 families. While at the south Florida synagogue, he was also involved in the broader Jewish community as, among other positions, founding dean of The Katz Yeshiva High School, founder and posek of the Boca Raton Community Mikvah, co-chair of the Orthodox Rabbinical Board of Broward & Palm Beach Counties’ kashrut organization, and executive board member of the South Palm Beach County Jewish Federation.

Rabbi emeritus of the Boca Raton Synagogue, Rabbi Brander holds a bachelor’s degree from YU; ordination from RIETS; a special ordination from Machon Puah, a center of medical ethics in Israel and Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, in the field of medical ethics, reproductive technology and Halakha; and a Ph.D. in general philosophy from Florida Atlantic University.

He will begin at Ohr Torah Stone in July 2018. Though the organization's founding Rabbi Riskin is stepping down as chancellor in July, he will continue his involvement in OTS, the organization he founded in 1983. Co-Chancellor Rabbi David Stav will continue in the significant role he holds today.

Rabbi Riskin said he is “thrilled” that Rabbi Brander will be taking the helm. “Rabbi Brander is the perfect choice to lead this organization that has had such an effect on Jewish learning and leadership,” Rabbi Riskin said. “I look forward to seeing him take Ohr Torah Stone to even greater heights with even greater impact.”

Rabbi Brander said he, too, looks forward to joining OTS. “I am honored to join this illustrious movement that Rabbi Riskin and the selfless professionals and lay leadership of Ohr Torah Stone have created,” he said. “I am awed by all that has already been achieved and which must be maintained at such a high standard, while at the same time excited to embark upon new and innovative ideas, as well.”