After serving for more than 30 years, Ohr Torah Stone (OTS) founder Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin officially passed the mantle of leadership to his successor, Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander, at a historic installation ceremony which took place in the presence of more than 950 organizational supporters at the Jerusalem Theater. The event launched a month of celebration which is set to culminate with an investiture dinner in New York on December 19.
Honored guests at the Jerusalem event included Deputy Defense Minister Eliahu Ben Dahan; MK Shuli Mualem; Former Supreme Court justice Elyakim Rubinstein; Director General of the Diaspora Affairs Ministry Dvir Cahana; Mayor of Efrat Oded Revivi; Mayor of Gush Etzion Shlomo Neeman; Nefesh B’Nefesh Co-Founder and Executive Director Rabbi Yehoshua Fass; Director of Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority Shaul Goldstein; 2018 Israel Prize recipient for mathematics and computer science Prof. Alex Lubotzky; Chairman of the OTS Israel Board Dr. Roy Stern; OTS Spiritual Advisory Council member Rabbi David Stav; and others.
The incoming President and Rosh HaYeshiva of OTS, Rabbi Kenneth Brander, previously served as Vice President for University and Community Life at Yeshiva University (YU) before making Aliya to Israel this past July with his wife, Ruchie, and their youngest son. Prior to joining Yeshiva University, Rabbi Brander served as the senior rabbi of the Boca Raton Synagogue for 14 years, overseeing its explosive growth from 60 to more than 600 families.
The emotional highlight of the evening came as Rabbi Riskin pronounced over Rabbi Brander the priestly blessing and officially conferred upon him leadership of Ohr Torah Stone, the thriving educational and social action network of 27 programs and institutions making an indelible mark upon Jewish scholarship, leadership and tikkun olam in Israel and throughout the world.
"In the Talmudic tractate of Brachot, Rabbi Yochanan explains that when a man dreams in his sleep, nothing will come of it and therefore man must dream while awake,” said Riskin. “A man must dream the dream of God – the redemption – he must dream a dream that others share, and the dream must have a plan of action. I have been very fortunate, because in the dream I pursued I had all these things. God was with me every step of the way, and I had the cooperation of the best people around me who shared the dream and pulled it forward on educational and administrative levels. I am supremely grateful to Rabbi Brander, and confident that he will not only carry on the dream, but expand upon it in his own inimitable way."
“As Ohr Torah Stone's new President and Rosh HaYeshiva, I intend to lead OTS in continuing to shape the next generation of Israeli society and World Jewry. We will ensure that our religious and educational initiatives are relevant, contemporary and creative,” said Rabbi Brander. “Our mission is not to dictate the path to those with whom we engage - the thousands in our classrooms and the hundreds of thousands we connect with in the community. Rather, we wish to create the music enabling each person to find his or her own spiritual sound through which one connects to the Jewish people, the Torah and the State of Israel.”
Ohr Torah Stone is an international Modern Orthodox movement transforming Jewish life, learning and leadership worldwide. Energized by the leadership of our new President and Rosh HaYeshiva Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander, and building on the unique vision of Founder, Chancellor Emeritus and Rosh HaYeshiva Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin, OTS is fueled by a unique combination of 27 educational institutions, women’s empowerment programs, outreach initiatives, leadership development and social action projects and has been impacting upon Israeli and world society for more than 30 years.