Cantor David Berger

Cantor David Berger is the cantor at KAM Isaiah Israel Congregation in Chicago, IL, a board member of the American Conference of Cantors, and a Ph.D. student at the Chicago Theological Seminary. Learn more about him, his music, and his teaching at

How Can Social Isolation Lead to Illumination?

D'Var Torah By: Cantor David Berger

April 27, 2020
The following story from the Talmud helps us reflect on Parashat Emor: Elijah the prophet felt conflicted about his job that day. He just knew that it wouldn’t go well, so he tried everything to get away from it. “It’s been 12 years,” said God, “Genug! (enough!) We have to tell him he can come out.” Elijah disagreed. Bar Yochai made him nervous. So much power in such a temperamental vessel was just dangerous. Still, maybe God was right. Twelve years in a cave is a long time and maybe people really can change. Or maybe not.

Committing Ourselves to the Actions Required for Full Inclusion

D'Var Torah By: Cantor David Berger

April 20, 2020
At its best, the Torah can lift up humanity, reminding us of our place in the continually unfolding story of God’s Creation of the world and our role in the hopeful journey toward freedom. At its worst, it can serve as a tool for domination, oppression, hatred, and all that is base and vile within the human soul. As a gay man, I approached this week’s Torah portion, Acharei Mot-K'doshim, with a fair amount of trepidation.

It’s Important To See the Whole Person, Not Just the Illness

D'Var Torah By: Cantor David Berger

April 7, 2020
I’ve never had great knees, but this was a bit much. At 32 years old, I was limping around, struggling to go up and down stairs, and just feeling terrible about it. Thankfully, surgery and physical therapy helped and I have long since recovered. The most important lesson I learned from my bad knees is one that I see reflected in this week’s Torah portion. Parashat Tazria-M’tzora teaches us about our physicality; its focus is on the skin, hair, fluids, and organs that make up our bodies. We learn how out of our control those things can be and we gain some insight into our relationships with those entrusted with our care.

How Can We Strengthen Ourselves If God Seems Hidden?

D'Var Torah By: Cantor David Berger

March 30, 2020
The Torah reading for this intermediate Shabbat of Passover, Chol HaMo-eid Pesach (Ex. 33:12-34:26), starts after the story of the Golden Calf. Moses, keenly aware of the failure in leadership that led to this disaster, reasonably asks for God’s help and direction. But then, he follows up with something truly extraordinary: Moses asks to actually see God, saying, "Oh, let me behold Your Presence!"