Founding Director of Ohr Torah Stone’s Beren-Amiel and Straus-Amiel Programs, Rabbi Eliahu Birnbaum’s vast experience makes him an excellent role model and source of inspiration to both our students and our alumni in the field. His position as the former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay and community rabbi in Turin, Italy, is complemented by his extensive professional work in Israel. In addition to training educational and spiritual leadership, he serves as a Judge on the Chief Rabbinate of Israel's Conversion Courts and writes prolifically on the challenges facing Jewish communities and communal leaders. A holder of both a BA and an MA in Jewish Philosophy from the Hebrew university, Rabbi Birnbaum is considered an authority on matters of the Diaspora and he is consulted regularly by Israeli officials and Diaspora leaders alike for advice and information regarding conflicts, halachic questions and challenges that arise across the globe.
Rabbi Dr. Katriel (Kenneth)Brander
President and Rosh HaYeshiva, Ohr Torah Stone
Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander is President and Rosh HaYeshiva of the Ohr Torah Stone network of 30 educational institutions, leadership development initiatives, outreach endeavors, women’s empowerment programs, and social action projects.
A noted educational innovator and community cultivator with critical experience in creating, developing and maintaining religious institutions of learning and leadership, Rabbi Brander joined OTS in 2018. Prior to that, Rabbi Brander had served as Vice President for University and Community Life, as well as the inaugural David Mitzner Dean of The Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) at Yeshiva University (YU), and as the senior rabbi of the Boca Raton Synagogue (1991 – 2005), overseeing its explosive growth from 60 families to more than 600 families.
Until moving to Israel in the summer of 2018, Rabbi Brander was also 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.
He is an alumnus of Yeshiva College and received his ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary in 1986. 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.
Rabbi Brander is married to Rachel Tambor Brander. They are blessed with five children, three daughters-in law, and 4 grandchildren.
Deputy Director & Placement Coordinator
Rabbi Benjy Myers is the institute's Deputy Director . A graduate of the Straus-Amiel program, he has a BA from the London School of Jewish Studies, Semicha from the Israeli Chief Rabbinate and a teaching license from the Herzog Teacher Training College. Rabbi Myers was born in the UK, and has also lived in Israel, Australia and the USA, where he successfully served for five years in a number of communal, educational and management positions throughout the Dallas Jewish community, at the Community Kollel of Dallas, Congregation Shaare Tefilla and Akiba Academy. Rabbi Myers is responsible for a variety of programs and projects aimed both at the students enrolled in the program as well as placing and providing ongoing assistance to graduates in the field.
Women's Program Coordinator
Rabbanit Renana Birnbaum directs the women's program, bringing extensive knowledge and years of experience to her teaching. A well-known Jewish educator with degrees in Literature (BA) and Jewish Philosophy (MA), Rabbanit Renana draws on her own wealth of experience as a “rebbetzen” in Uruguay, where her husband served as the country’s Chief Rabbi, and as the community rebbetzen in Turin, Italy. Rabbanit Renana possesses the knowledge and sensitivity which make her the perfect role model for our women emissaries in their roles as community leaders. Her previous positions also included serving as a senior faculty member of the school at Kibbutz Sa’ad and as head teacher of the Jewish school in Caracas. In addition to heading the women's program, Rabbanit Birnbaum is the director of Ohr Torah Stone’s Spanish-speaking conversion program.
Rabbi Dr. AriSilbermann
Director of Education
Rabbi Dr. Ari Silbermann was born in Australia, making Aliyah in 2005. A graduate of Yeshivat Hakotel's Hesder program, he began studying there for his rabbinic ordination, completing his studies in Bet Morasha ands Yeshivat Siach Yitzchak. Rabbi Ari has a BA in Business Management, a teaching license from Herzog Teacher Training College, and both an MA and PhD in Bible Studies from Bar Ilan University. Rabbi Ari has extensive experience in both formal and informal education, and ran the successful Australian gap year program "Hineni" for 10 years. Following their studies in the Straus-Amiel Institute, the Silbermann family spent three years on Shlichut in Manchester, UK, serving as the Mizrachi rabbinic couple.
Director of Recruitment
Shuli grew up in Raanana and now lives in Kiryat Shoshana, adjacent to OTS's Yeshivat Machanaim in Migdal Oz. Shuli studied for many years in a number of programs, including OTS Midreshet Lindenbaum, Matan HaSharon and Migdal Oz, and holds a BA in Israel Studies from Bar Ilan and an MA in American Jewry from the Ruderman Prgram in Haifa University. Her connection to the world of Jewish education in the Diaspora began with her work in World Bnei Akiva, after which she worked in the OU and Taglit. Following shlichut on behalf of Lavi Olami in Amsterdam, Holland, Shuli returned to teach Talmud and Jewish thought in OTS Midershet Lindenbaum.
Returning Shlichim Coordinator
Aviad is an alumni of Yeshivat Har Etzion, and received his BA and MA (with excellence) in Education from Herzog College. A graduate of Beren-Amiel, the Pituchei Chotam family spent time on Shlichut in Caracas, Venezuela, and then a number of years in Toronto, Canada. Upon their return, Aviad joined the staff with specific responsibility to assist returning families make an easy transition back into life in Israel.
Director, Maarava Program
Rabbi Eliahu has extensive experience in Halacha, education and shlichut. Following his studies in Yeshivat Tekoa and Yeshivat Ohr Chevron in Kiryat Arba, Rabbi Eliahu went on to serve in the IDF rabbinate, and also as an emissary of Rabbi Adin Steinzalts in the USA and Luxembourg. after heading Ohr Torah Stone's Joseph and Gwendolyn Straus Rabbinical Seminary, the Gateno family embarked on a further shlichut, this time as a Rosh kollel in Montreal Canada. Rabbi Gateno now heads Ohr Torah Stone's Kollel Torat Yosef for Diaspora Rabbis, and serves as the director of the Maarava Program.