Rabbi Nasanayl Braun counts the establishment of the Yeshiva at the Jersey Shore as the signature accomplishment of his first 10 years as religious leader of Congregation Brothers of Israel of Long Branch.
“The school started with just four students, and now it has 140 children, from preschool age to eighth-graders,” he said.
Celebrating his 10th anniversary at CBI, Braun, 41, said the Modern Orthodox synagogue and the yeshiva, under principal Rabbi Elie Tuchman, will always enjoy a “special relationship,” even though they are separate entities, each with its own board.
“YSJ was never housed on our premises, but the shul was the guiding force behind its formation. Committees of congregants held countless meetings and devoted tremendous amounts of time planning, scheming, dreaming, and building — all with the goal of making sure the school would be viable,” said Braun. “I am still active in its fund-raising efforts.”
And all of his children have gone to the school. The three youngest — Eitan, nine, and six-year-old twins Talia and Shai — are still there. The family’s first set of twins, Avi and Tova, 15, and son Ariel, 14, are now enrolled at the Jewish Educational Center in Elizabeth.
In a phone interview, Braun told NJJN he treasures the many warm friendships he has built with congregants at what is reputed to be the largest Ashkenazi synagogue at the Jersey Shore. “Some people I see every day, some every week, and some only occasionally, but they all play a meaningful role in the life of the synagogue,” he said.
Located in the Elberon section of Long Branch, CBI, now approximately 250 families strong, got its start in 1999, and Braun came aboard in 2005.
“We are very fortunate to have had Rabbi Braun and his family with us for the past 10 years,” said Andrew Samuel, CBI’s copresident with Judi Boim. “He is involved with and cares about the greater Monmouth County Jewish community as a member of the Jersey Shore Orthodox Rabbinate, which provides kashrut supervision. And he helped spearhead last summer’s community-wide rally in response to Israel’s war in Gaza. He infuses his passion for Israel into our membership, inspiring us to advocate on Israel’s behalf through groups like AIPAC, NORPAC, and others.”
“Working with Rabbi Braun is a delight,” said Boim. “He is approachable, incisive, sincere, and funny. His wife Tamar is warm, friendly, and welcoming. Together, they are a dynamite duo.”
Boim said that when the Brauns stayed at her home during their tryout weekend 10 years ago, she remembers whispering to her husband, “‘They are so young! They are so wonderful.’ We are very lucky to have them.”
To mark Braun’s decade of service, the congregation chose two special events — a “surprise” kiddush on Aug.1 and a barbecue on Aug. 30.
“Tamar was in on the secret about the kiddush, and she invited my parents to spend Shabbos with us,” said Braun. “I was completely surprised, and I was touched by one congregant who observed that the parsha for the week — Va’et’hanan — was the same one we read at my first Shabbos when I came here” in August 2005.
Over 150 people attended the outdoor barbecue at the Long Branch home of Melissa and Yitzhak Belsh. Braun said he was happy that the celebration was a barbecue for two reasons: The fact that it was an informal event meant that children could participate, and, he said, “I am a serious carnivore. My hankering for meat is well known to just about everyone in the congregation.”