Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander is the incoming President and Rosh HaYeshiva of Ohr Torah Stone (OTS), as of February 2018. Rabbi Brander succeeds Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, who will step down in August 2018, although he will continue his involvement in OTS, the organization he founded in 1983.
Until January 2018, Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander was Vice President for University and Community Life at Yeshiva University (YU) and taught rabbinics at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS). He focused on improving all aspects of the student life experience, personal and virtual engagement with Jewish communities around the Jewish world, upgrading the Graduate Program of Advanced Talmudic Studies for Women (GPATS), and restructuring YU’s Israel-based initiatives to empower greater impact on Israeli society.
Before becoming Vice President, Rabbi Brander served as the inaugural David Mitzner Dean of Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future. Serving as a catalyst to infuse the YU student body with a spirit of leadership and sense of commitment to the Jewish people and society, the CJF builds, cultivates and supports communities and their lay and rabbinic leaders, and creates a global movement that promotes YU’s values.
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 or meet with key members of the Israeli or American government.
Prior to joining Yeshiva University, Rabbi Brander served as the senior rabbi of the Boca Raton Synagogue for 14 years (1991 – 2005), overseeing its explosive growth from 60 families to more than 600 families. During that time, he also became the founding dean of The Katz Yeshiva High School – the first Jewish high school between North Miami Beach and Atlanta, Georgia – and founder and posek of the Boca Raton Community Mikvah, the first mikvah complex in Palm Beach County. Rabbi Brander also helped develop the Hahn Judaic Campus, upon which these institutions reside, co-chaired the Orthodox Rabbinical Board of Broward & Palm Beach Counties’ South Palm Beach County Vaad ha’Kashrut, which brought many kosher establishments to Palm Beach County in southern Florida, and was instrumental in the development of the Hillel Day School.
From 1990-91, Rabbi Brander was the acting rabbi of New York’s Lincoln Square Synagogue, after serving for four years as its assistant rabbi.
Rabbi Brander has published numerous articles on Jewish law and philosophy which have appeared in various scholarly journals, and served as the editor for The Yeshiva University Haggada (Ktav: New York, 1985). He delivers popular lectures in various areas of Jewish thought and jurisprudence and has lectured in communities throughout North America, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia and Israel.
He is a 1984 alumnus of Yeshiva College and received his ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary in 1986. During that time he served as a student assistant to Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (1982 – 1985). Rabbi Brander also received special ordination from the Machon Puah center of medical ethics in Israel, and from then-Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, in the field of medical ethics, reproductive technology and halakha.
Rabbi Brander holds a Ph.D. in general philosophy and comparative literature from Florida Atlantic University. He wrote his dissertation on “The Temple in Jerusalem Idealized and the Historic-Synagogue-Institution: A Study in Synagogue Purposes in an American Context.”
Rabbi Brander is married to Rachel Tambor Brander. They have five children: Tuvia (married to Miriam Apter), Yoni (married to Yehudit Goldberg), Tehilla, Yosef and Yitzchak.