TOS Blog

Posted on March 15, 2024

“Perhaps for Just such a Time as This…”: Reflecting on this Moment in History, and this Moment in the Jewish Calendar

March 15, 2024   This week In “Torah time” we are concluding the reading of the book of Exodus. In Jewish calendar time, we are soon to celebrate Purim. In Jewish historical time, we are five months into a war of survival for our Jewish nation, fought in impossible circumstances leading to incomprehensible and unacceptable …


Posted on March 8, 2024

Shabbat: Best Known Commandment and Best Open Secret

March 8, 2024   This week’s Torah portion, Parshat Vayakhel, is one of the Torah’s 13 chapters about the Mishkan, all within the book of Exodus! Yup, you heard right – chapters 25 to 31 discuss the specifications for this structure, its materials and measurements down to the last detail, and then chapters 35 to 40 …


Posted on March 1, 2024

A Synagogue in Lisbon and the Experience of History and Hope

March 1, 2024   Last Friday evening, my family and I attended the Erev Shabbat service at the Shaare Tikvah synagogue in Lisbon, Portugal. As we entered the immense gates, escorted by the police officers stationed there and having gone through a rigorous pre-registration process, I reflected on the name of the congregation, which means “Gates …


Posted on February 23, 2024

Keeping the Light On

February 23, 2024 Four months into this unconscionable war between Israel and Hamas, in what is meant to be the Holy Land, amid calls for a ceasefire, if not an increase in humanitarian aid, Israeli settlers are still setting fire to Palestinian olive trees in the West Bank… And here in the US, a gathering that should …


Posted on February 9, 2024

Reproductive Justice is a Jewish Value

February 9, 2024 Growing up in my family’s house and as a product of Reform movement synagogues, summer camps, and youth leadership, an orientation toward and attunement to social justice came baked in. Carving out time to volunteer, contact my representatives, and show up for causes and for my neighbors was just part of what …


Posted on February 2, 2024

Reading the Ten Commandments through a New Lens: A Shabbat Message from Rabbi Berkman for Parashat Yitro

February 2, 2024   This week in our Torah portion, the Israelites receive the Ten Commandments (Aseret HaDibrot – more accurately translated as “the Ten Sayings.” ) Imagine, just about three months after being freed from Egyptian slavery, miraculously crossing the Sea of Reeds on dry land, our ancestors who had known only slavery are now …


Posted on January 26, 2024

The Responsibility of Freedom and the Power of Language: A Shabbat Message by Rabbi Berkman for Parashat Beshallach and International Holocaust Remembrance Day

January 26, 2024   This Shabbat, we read the Torah portion in which our ancestors sang what became known as “The Song at the Sea” (Shirat HaYam), having experienced the miracle of crossing the parted Red Sea, from slavery into freedom. Since that moment, through our long desert wanderings and the vast history of our people …


Posted on January 19, 2024

100 Days, and the Imperative to See One Another: A Shabbat Message from Rabbi Berkman

January 19, 2024 This past Sunday marked 100 days from the horrors of October 7th, and 100 days in captivity for the remaining 136 hostages in Gaza. The magnitude of human suffering in Israel and in Gaza over these 100 days defies comprehension, and as the war drags on, and the hostages’ fate remains unknown, …


Posted on January 12, 2024

Shevat Shalom, y’all! Honoring the Trees and Nature

January 12, 2024 Yup, you heard that right – as of yesterday, we began the Hebrew month of Shevat, and are preparing to celebrate Tu B’Shevat, the birthday or new year of the trees! While we’re still in the depths of winter here in the Northeastern US, in the Middle East, the first blossoms of the …