AN Australian rabbi has been elected to sit on one of the world’s most prestigious religious courts, the Crown Heights Beth Din in New York.
Sydney’s Tzemach Tzedek community will lose its spiritual leader after Rabbi Yossi Braun was voted in as the third rabbi of Crown Heights Beth Din in Brooklyn by less than 100 votes.
For the Tzemach Tzedek community, his appointment brings mixed feelings. Former president Benny Amzalak said the community was proud but disappointed.
“It’s definitely sad because we are going to miss out on someone who is so good for us, and Sydney,” Amzalak said. “He has been here for seven years but now the world has realised how good he is and they have snapped him up to one of the highest positions in the Chabad world.”
The rabbi isn’t expected to move immediately.
“We have been told that we would get two months from when he knows he has to move to New York so we can find a replacement rabbi because our community will continue to be strong and grow.”
Sydney Yeshiva Centre spiritual leader Rabbi Pinchus Feldman said he was proud to see a former student achieve the position. “We hope that he brings pride to all of us in the years to come,” Rabbi Feldman said. “Without any doubt, I’m sure he’ll try his best to make a very strong contribution in Crown Heights.”
Young Adult Chabad Rabbi Eli Feldman said Rabbi Braun was a man of high principles.
“Their education came before politics,” he said. “He’s someone who believes in something, he has particular principles. Let’s hope he takes that spirit to Crown Heights where he’ll serve the people. We hope he’ll do a good job there and we wish him well.”
Rabbi Braun, 40, campaigned as a man who would be able to connect with the younger generation in Crown Heights.
In a video on his campaign website prior to the election, he spoke of bringing the community together by working together towards common goals.
“If it’s a grassroots effort and everybody is in this together, and everybody’s welcome to participate and contribute, I think we can really get things moving step-by-step,” he said.
“There’s a lot of beautiful things that are happening in Crown Heights and perhaps we should focus much more on the positive and bring out the positive.”
Crown Heights, in the New York borough of Brooklyn, is the spiritual home of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. The suburb is home to 770, the former headquarters of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
GARETH NARUNSKY AND JOSHUA LEVI