Rabbi Saul J. Berman
BIOGRAPHYRabbi Saul J. Berman is a leading Orthodox teacher and thinker. As a Rabbi, a scholar, and an educator, he has made extensive contributions to the intensification of women's Jewish education, to the role of social ethics in Synagogue life, and to the understanding of the applicability of Jewish Law to contemporary society.
Rabbi Berman was ordained at Yeshiva University, from which he also received his B.A. and his M.H.L. He completed a degree in law, a J.D., at New York University, and an M.A. in Political Science at the University of California at Berkeley. He spent two years studying mishpat ivri in Israel at Hebrew University and at Tel Aviv University. He is married to Shellee Berman, and they have four children.
Rabbi Berman was the Rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel in Berkeley, California, from 1963 to 1969. He was an early leader in the Soviet Jewry movement, and an active participant in the Civil Rights movement. He was present at the demonstrations in Selma, Alabama in 1965. From 1969 to 1971, Rabbi Berman was the spiritual leader of the Young Israel of Brookline, Mass., where he organized the Torah Community Project, a study centered activist setting for students and young adults in the Boston area.
In 1971, Rabbi Berman was appointed Chairman of the Department if Judaic Studies of Stern College for Women of Yeshiva University. Under his leadership over the next thirteen years, it grew into the largest undergraduate Department of Jewish Studies in the United States. Focused on the study of original texts and the acquisition of independent learning skills by women, the program at Stern College impacted on Yeshiva High School education as well as the surge of Yeshivot in Israel serving American women students.
In 1984, Rabbi Berman accepted the position as Senior Rabbi of Lincoln Square Synagogue in Manhattan, where he served until 1990. During those years, he spearheaded an expansion of the adult education program, the creation of an extensive social action program based on halachik commitments, the growth of the Synagogue's Women's Tefillah Group, and the creation of new outreach programs to the unaffiliated.
In 1990, Rabbi Berman returned to academic life, as Associate Professor of Jewish Studies at Stern College, and as an adjunct Professor at Columbia University School of Law, where he teaches a seminar in Jewish Law. From 1995 to 1997, he served as Scholar in Residence at the JCC on the Palisades in New Jersey. In 1997, Rabbi Berman became Director of Edah, a new organization devoted to the invigoration of modern Orthodox ideology and religious life.
Rabbi Berman is a contributor to the Encyclopedia Judaica and is the author of numerous articles which have been published in journals such as Tradition, Judaism, Journal of Jewish Studies, Dinei Yisrael, and many others. His writings on the subject of women in halachah and on issues of halachah and comtemporary society have often been reprinted.