Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander is Vice President for University and Community Life at Yeshiva University and teaches rabbinics at at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS). He focuses on all aspects of the student life experience, engagement with Jewish communities around the Jewish world, the Graduate Program of Advanced Talmudic Studies for Women (GPATS), and YU’s Israel based initiatives. He served as the inaugural David Mitzner Dean of Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future. CJF serves as Yeshiva University’s catalyst to infuse the student body with a spirit of leadership and sense of commitment to the Jewish people and society. CJF builds, cultivates, and supports communities, and their lay and rabbinic leaders and creates a global movement that promotes the values of Yeshiva University.
Prior to his work at Yeshiva University Rabbi Brander served for 14 years as the Senior Rabbi of the Boca Raton Synagogue (1991 – 2005). He oversaw its explosive growth from 60 families to over 600 families. While Senior Rabbi of the Boca Raton Synagogue (BRS), he became the founding dean of The Katz Yeshiva High School (1997 – 2005), founding dean of the Boca Raton Judaic Fellows Program – Community Kollel (1996 – 2005), founder and posek of the Boca Raton Community Mikvah. He helped to develop the Hahn Judaic Campus on which all these institutions reside and as co-chair of Kashrut organization of the Orthodox Rabbinical Board of Broward & Palm Beach Counties (ORB) which brought many Kosher establishments to Palm Beach County. The Orthodox community in Boca Raton believed that the Rabbi of BRS should engage with the larger community. This enabled Rabbi Brander to serve for five years as a Member of the Executive Board of the South Palm Beach County Jewish Federation, as a Board member of Jewish Family Services of South Palm Beach County, and actively worked with other lay leaders in the development of the Hillel Day School. Rabbi Brander was a guest at the White House on several occasions, meeting with President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush on issues relating to terrorism, anti- Semitism, and faith based initiatives. In 2004 he was invited to join President Bush in lighting the Chanukah Menorah. Upon his departure from Boca Raton to assume his leadership role at Yeshiva University, Brander was awarded the title of Rabbi Emeritus of the Boca Raton Synagogue, and a permanent seat on the Executive Committee of the Weinbaum Yeshiva High School of Broward and Palm Beach Counties as its founding dean. A special video tribute to Rabbi Brander and his family was arranged by the orthodox and general Jewish community.
As Acting Rabbi (1990 -1991) and Assistant Rabbi (1986 – 1990) of the Lincoln Square Synagogue, Kenneth Brander was actively involved with Soviet Jewry serving as a member of the Executive Board of the Coalition to Free Soviet Jews, including traveling to the Soviet Union to help lead the first public seder since the Holocaust in Tallin Estonia. Rabbi Brander was accompanied to the Soviet Union by other young adults and teens from the Lincoln Square Synagogue. This mission to the Soviet Union became an integral part of independent film director Jonathan Stack’s first documentary “One Generation More” which was chosen to be shown at the Margret Mead Film Festival (1991). Rabbi Brander then chaired (1989 – 1991) the West Side Synagogues Action Committee for Soviet Jewish Immigrants which convened all of the West Side Synagogues to help in the resettlement, education and acculturation of newly arriving Soviet Immigrants.
He has received numerous awards for community service including: Stand With the Heroes of S’derot – The American Friends of S’derot, Rabbinic Leadership Award, May 2011; Yeshiva College Alumni Association Bernard Revel Memorial Awards for Religion & Religious Education, May 2004; State of Israel Medal of Honor presented by the Mayor of Gush Etzion, for Rabbinic Leadership, in supporting Gush Etzion, July 2001;Key to the City of Boca Raton, 1994;First Recipient of the Yeshiva University Wexner Rabbinic Leadership Award, 1999; South Palm Beach County Federation Award for Rabbinic Leadership, May 1994; Samuel and Rose Hurowitz UJA Federation Award for Rabbinic Leadership, 1990; and Rabbinic Alumnus Award, Yeshivat Sha’alavim, November 1989.
Rabbi Dr. Brander has authored many articles in areas of Jewish law and philosophy appearing in various scholarly journals as well as serving as the editor for The Yeshiva University Haggada (Ktav: New York, 1985). Rabbi Brander delivers popular lectures in various areas of Jewish thought and jurisprudence and has spoken in communities throughout North America, United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia and Israel.
Rabbi Brander 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 the esteemed Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (1982 – 1985). He also received special ordination from Machon Puah, a 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 PhD in general philosophy and comparative literature from Florida Atlantic University. He is married to Rachel Tambor Brander and they are blessed with five children: Tuvia (married to Miriam Apter), Yoni (married to Yehudit Goldberg), Tehilla, Yosef, and Yitzchak.