Invocation and Remarks by Rabbi Audrey Marcus Berkman

Annual Meeting 2019

It has been my honor to serve as Rabbi of this congregation for one year, and before that to serve as Associate Rabbi for one year. I am proud of all that we have accomplished this year and I believe wholeheartedly that we are poised for success and growth as a community in so many ways. It is my vision to grow us to significantly grow our membership over the next five years, and to establish Temple Ohabei Shalom as a hub of Jewish life, learning, culture and action.

As I said last year, From the time I first entered the sanctuary to meet with the Search Committee in November of 2017, I have felt at ease and at home with all of you. I feel a sense of shared values and purpose. Last year, I said on this night: “This evening, knowing how much you care about this congregation, how dedicated you are to its welfare and its future, I stand before you humbled, honored, and awed by the responsibility and trust you have placed in me as I take on my new role as spiritual leader of this kehilah kedoshah, this holy community.” That sense has only grown as I have gone deeply into this work in the past year, and have grown together with you in our sacred partnership.

This coming Shabbat we will read the third Torah portion in the book of Numbers – beha’alotcha. At this point, our ancestors are encamped in the Sinai wilderness, and a portable sanctuary (Tabernacle) has just been erected. The Tabernacle is built, a cloud hovers over it by day, and it looks like a pillar of fire by night. The Israelites follow it – and it guides them when to move forward and when to pause and camp. What guides us in how and when we take steps forward through the wilderness?

We follow a wisdom that we cannot access as individuals, but only as community – when we listen to each other, share our perspectives, share our stories (and in sharing them, we understand better how we arrived at our perspectives). The traditional Jewish way of learning is in hevruta – not alone with a text and one’s own thoughts, but rather in conversation, dialogue, and even debate. This is how we learn. This is how we know when and how to move forward.

All of you are part of this conversation, and each of you brings distinct experience, perspective, passion, skill, and talent to this conversation. I am so grateful to be in sacred conversation with each of you as we move our community into the future.

Before each board meeting, we recite a blessing that is contemporary in origin but rooted in ancient wisdom found in the Jerusalem Talmud (the Talmud Yerushalmi): Rabbi Yirmiyah said:The one occupied with the needs of the community is like one who is occupied with matters of Torah. (Talmud Yerushalmi, Brakhot 5:1) The work of guiding and sustaining a community is a sacred obligation. And so we recite this blessing before each board meeting:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּֽנוּ לַעֲסוֹק בְּצָרְכֵי צִבּוּר

Barukh atah adonai eloheinu melekh ha’olam asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu la’asok betzorkhei tzibur.

Blessed are You, Sovereign of the Universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments, and commanded us to occupy ourselves with the needs of the community.

Engaging with the needs of the community — working to ensure that the gifts of each individual in our midst are brought forward to create something so much greater than the sum of its parts, is a way for us to keep the divine presence with us. Our tradition calls upon us to act and to serve — we are active partners in this covenant and in the ongoing creation and perfection of our world; this endeavor requires our multiple perspectives, experiences, and gifts. When we are working in hevruta, in conversation, we create and access wisdom we would not otherwise be able to. We know when and how to move forward, and we can nurture, grow and sustain this place of meaning, of sanctity, of learning and living in community.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יהוה אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁהֶחֱינָוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה.

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha-Olam shecheyanu v’kiy’manu v’higyanu lazman hazeh.

Blessed are You, our God, Creator of time and space, who has supported us, protected us, and brought us to this moment.

The New Board of Trustees

Thanks to the incredible work of the Nominating Committee, and the Temple Ohabei Shalom member support at the Annual Meeting, we are thrilled to welcome our new Board. We are certain and ever-grateful that they will continue to make a significant impact on our community as lay leaders, thought partners and drivers of all the good we do.


Co-Presidents: Benjamin Berkowitz and Annie Rotner
Co-Treasurers: Penny Garver and Richard Stern
Recording Secretary: Matthew Simonson


3-year term ending in June 2022: Shoma Dhar, Susan Elsbree, Rachel Green, Edward Jacobs

2-year term ending in June 2021: Mark Gale, Denise Karlin, Michael Mittelman, Joshua Paradise

1-year term ending in June 2020: Lori Berry, Robin LeWinter, Sarah Bookbinder

Learn more about our newly elected trustees.