(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
NEW YORK – Rabbi Shlomo Riskin will step down in July as head of Ohr Torah Stone, the Modern Orthodox educational network he founded after making aliya from New York in 1983.
Rabbi Kenneth Brander, a senior rabbi in the Modern Orthodox community in US, will make aliya and lead the Ohr Torah Stone system. He will leave New York’s Yeshiva University, where has served as a vice president.
Riskin, 77, will remain chief rabbi of Efrat, the community he helped to found.
Brander, vice president for university and community life at Yeshiva University, wrote on his Twitter account Tuesday, “It has been the honor of a lifetime to work as part of the remarkable YU family and in particular with the inspiring young people who make up our student body. I am excited at the chance to actualize a lifelong dream of making aliya with my family and to take the leadership of Ohr Torah Stone as we help write the next chapters in our people’s story in our homeland.”
Ohr Torah Stone focuses on religious education, and operates institutions such as high schools for boys; high schools for girls; Midreshet Lindenbaum, where women study Talmud and the Bible; the Machanaim Hesder Yeshiva; where post-high school students combine intensive Torah study with full service in the IDF; and an organization supporting Agunot and Mesoravot Get (“chained women”).
Riskin is involved in other initiatives, and he is one of the leaders of Giur K’halacha, a rabbinical organization focused on conversions. Riskin, who was rabbi of the Lincoln Square Synagogue in Manhattan, made aliya in 1983, followed by some of his community members.
Brander is rabbi emeritus of the Boca riskin Synagogue, a central Modern Orthodox community in Florida.
Brander’s appointment as president of Ohr Torah Stone takes place on the background of clashes between its current two leaders, Riskin and Rabbi David Stav, and the Israeli rabbinical establishment. Two years ago, the rabbinate tried to oust Riskin from his post as the chief rabbi of the Efrat settlement, whereas Stav is involved in an ongoing dispute with the Chief Rabbinate, mainly because he supports the privatization of the official kashrut system in Israel.
Stav told The Jerusalem Post
that he welcomes Brander and that he would be “honored to serve alongside with him.” He added that he will continue to focus on Israeli public affairs in the organization.