Rabbi Kenneth Brander to Leave YU
Rabbi Kenneth Brander, current Vice President for University and Community Life at Yeshiva University, will leave his post around January 31 to assume a position in Israel. In an e-mail exchange with The Commentator, Rabbi Brander confirmed that he will be assuming the position of President and Rosh haYeshiva at Ohr Torah Stone, a network of 24 religious and educational institutions headquartered in Efrat, Israel.
Rabbi Brander’s transition out of his current post will begin after the October holiday break. At this time, no replacement has been named for him and, according to one source, the vacancy created by Rabbi Brander’s departure will not be filled. Instead, his responsibilities will be assumed by other current administrators.
The announcement of Rabbi Brander’s departure comes just weeks after the investiture of Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman as the fifth president of Yeshiva University, and just days after Assistant Vice President of Governmental Affairs Phil Goldfeder’s intentions to leave for a position at Cross River Bank became public.
As Vice President for University and Community Life, Rabbi Brander oversees the offices of Student Life, University Housing and Residence Life, Admissions, the Graduate Program in Advanced Talmudic Studies (GPATS), and various student support services offices, including the Counseling Center. His role also includes various community work, such as continuing education at the Center for the Jewish Future.
President Berman’s office released this statement in regards to Brander’s departure:
“Yeshiva University is very happy to congratulate Rabbi Kenneth Brander, Vice President of University and Community Life, on his exciting new appointment. Rabbi Brander is a remarkable Jewish leader and we are very appreciative for all of his impressive accomplishments on behalf of Yeshiva University, primarily through his leadership at the Center for the Jewish Future of which he served as inaugural dean for nine years. In addition, Rabbi Brander played a significant role in a number of important areas including undergraduate admissions, the Graduate Program in Advanced Talmudic Studies and the enhancement of student life.
“We are very excited for him and his family as they realize their dream of moving to Israel and we are confident that he will contribute greatly to Israel and the Jewish people as the head of Ohr Torah Stone.
“We have already begun our transition to our new administrative team and will be working closely with Rabbi Brander in the coming months to ensure that we will be poised to build on his very important work and move Yeshiva University forward into our next great era.”
Rabbi Brander joined the Yeshiva University administration in 2005 when he was appointed Dean of the Center for the Jewish Future. He assumed his current position in September 2013. Prior, he served as Senior Rabbi of the Boca Raton Synagogue in Florida. During his tenure in South Florida, he helped found several important Jewish institutions, most notably the Katz Yeshiva High School (formerly known as Weinbaum Yeshiva High School) in 1997, as well as Palm Beach County’s first mikvah, a vaad hakashrut, and a kollel. Rabbi Brander graduated Yeshiva College in 1984 and received his ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary in 1986.
“We in Boca Raton are the beneficiaries of Rabbi Brander’s vision, wisdom and hard work,” said Rabbi Efrem Goldberg, the current Rabbi of Boca Raton Synagogue. “He brought those same qualities to Yeshiva University where his transformational leadership led to great innovation, community building and enriched student life. I am confident that he will bring those same attributes to his new position and continue to have an indelible impact and influence on the Jewish world.”
Ohr Torah Stone was founded in 1983 by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the 1960 valedictorian of Yeshiva College. OTS is comprised of a combination of institutions devoted to outreach, women’s empowerment, and leadership development within the Jewish world.
The Commentator will continue to report as this story develops.
*This article has been updated to include President Berman's comment on Rabbi Brander's departure.