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Rabbi Leah R. Berkowitz


Members of the Women's Rabbinic Network at a museum exhibit about Regina Jonas

God has placed abilities and callings in our hearts, without regard to gender. Thus each of us has the duty, whether man or woman, to realize those gifts God has given. -- Rabbi Regina Jonas, in the German newspaper Centra-Verein-Zeitung, June 23, 1938

I’m at that point in my rabbinate where many students I taught as children are now adults. One of my first bat mitzvah students, for example, started medical school this fall. Although I can’t take credit for her accomplishment – there is no scenario in which she would not have been a high achiever – I do take pride in it.


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Time for change written in the sand with waves coming toward the words

Last week, a good friend of mine invited me to join them when they received their two-year coin at Alcoholics Anonymous. This is not a world that I typically inhabit, and I discovered during the meeting that world had a lot to teach me about building community, making meaning, and doing t’shuvah (repentance).

In the synagogue world, and especially in small congregations, it often feels like we are one step behind in the latest trends, one marketing campaign or social media strategy or new melody away from transforming our congregations.

It was fascinating to watch people...

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Not everyone I know attended the URJ Biennial, but it felt that way. I ran into people from every school, youth program, and synagogue I’ve ever worked with or attended. My friends and colleagues who missed it complained of a condition called “Biennial FOMO” (Fear of Missing Out).

But even those of us at the Biennial weren’t immune to FOMO. At any given time, there were 20 different sessions to attend, on four specialized tracks: Audacious Hospitality, Strengthening Congregations, Engaging our Youth, and Tikkun Olam (Repairing Our World). There were concerts, exhibits, shopping,...

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