By COLlive reporters in Crown Heights
Photos by Zelig Shaul for COLlive.com
Rabbi Yosef Yeshaya Braun of Sydney has received the most votes –994 to be exact– in Sunday’s election to appoint a third member to the Crown Heights Bais Din (Badatz).
But he won’t be learning about the results so fast.
The 40 year-old who has said he’ll be using his Blackberry device and the web to connect to the Brooklyn neighborhood’s residents, is on a flight back to Australia.
When he lands (in the morning hours of New York) he will be notified that he was elected to a “Rabbonus for life” position, alongside the current senior members Rabbi Avrohom Osdoba and Rabbi Yaacov Schwei.
He won over his main ideological competitor in the race – Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, member of Vaad Rabbonei Lubavitch, who has received 896 votes.
Another candidate, Rabbi Emanuel Chaviv, a Rosh Kollel in the Israeli city of Beitar, received only 63 votes.
Rabbi Yossi Braun was born and raised in a family of rabbonim. His grandfather, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Braun OBM, a renowned rov and posek, authored Shearim Metzuyanim b’Halacha on Kitzur Shulchan Aruch.
His brothers, Rabbi Moshe Shmuel Braun serves as a rov and dayan in Monsey, and Rabbi Avraham Yaakov Braun serves as a mashpia in Mount Kisco, NY.
His supporters have evoked the memory of the late Crown Heights Rabbi Yehuda Kalman Marlow OBM – who had worked together with Braun – as a campaigning tool against Bogomilsky. Large photos of Marlow were hung outside the election station.
Braun has a packed resume, being a ‘chozer’ reviewer of the Rebbe’s sichos, running a Mesivta, teaching in a girls seminary and leading the break-away Tzemach Tzedek community in Sydney.
Although being nominated by Rabbi Schwei (associated with the Messianic group in Chabad), Braun insisted during an election forum that he was an independent.
“If anyone knows who is running my campaign please don’t tell me because I will be indebted to them,” he said with a smile. His opponents say he knows ‘good and well’ who they are.
Only after Braun’s win, COLlive.com was told about the existence of a campaign headquarters on Kingston Avenue (past Basil Pizza and Wine Bar).
Seen celebrating there were activists associated with Rabbi Schwei: Mendy Hendel, Rabbi Yekutiel Rapp, Chanina Sperlin, Elie Poltorak, Sruli Sandhaus, Yanky Herzog and Yaakov Spritzer.
They were joined by Vaad Hakohol members Zaki Tamir and Fishel Brownstein.
The elections were a result of a Din Torah between the Crown Heights communal leadership to end ongoing disputes that crippled the representative institutions. Monsey Dayan Rabbi Avrohom Rosenberg oversaw the process and the elections.
Rabbi Braun has run on the slate of a young educator who can connect to the many young couples and singles in the community. Some observed he was more of a Mashpia than a Rov, but his supporters said that was his advantage.
One of his first tasks will be forging a working relationship with Rabbis Osdoba and Schwei, almost twice his senior; appoint a CEO to the CHK Kosher supervision; and direct the Gabboim of 770 on how to continue their legal battle over the ownership of the main shul.
And that’s just the the first of a long to-do list the new Rov faces as he begins the lifetime position.