Rabbi Leah Berkowitz and Rabbi Perry Berkowitz are the founding rabbis of the congregation. A unique brother and sister rabbinic team (which has been called a ‘first in American Jewish history’), they evoke the first spiritual leadership team of Moses and Miriam, also a brother and a sister.
Rabbi Leah Berkowitz is a graduate of Barnard College. Rabbi Perry Berkowitz is a graduate of Columbia University. Both received their degrees in Religion.
They have also been educated in all the Jewish religious movements including Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and Renewal. They have studied at and received advanced degrees from such institutions as the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion and the Jewish Theological Seminary, respectively. While at these institutions they studied with the leading scholars of Judaism.
While at the Seminary, both completed, beyond degrees in Jewish studies and Rabbinics, all their Doctoral work in Jewish Philosophy, Theology, Ethics and Mysticism.
Rabbi Leah Berkowitz was awarded the Seminary’s prestigious Friedenwald Prize for excellence in Theology.
Rabbi Perry Berkowitz taught at the City University and for many years was the academic and personal assistant to Nobel Prize winner and Holocaust witness, Elie Wiesel.
Both Rabbi Leah Berkowitz and Rabbi Perry Berkowitz studied with and were trained and certified by the revered and famous founders of Jewish outreach and Jewish spiritual renewal in America, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach and Rabbi Zalman Schacter-Shalomi.
In high recognition of their standing they had the rare honor of being ordained by them.
Nationally recognized for their groundbreaking work in the field of interfaith relations they have also been hailed for their dynamic efforts in outreach and reaching unaffiliated Jews. For many years, they conducted The Harvard Club Passover Seder for alumni and unaffiliated Jews.
In another distinction, Rabbi Leah Berkowitz was the first woman rabbi to preach at a Good Friday service at one of New York’s distinguished churches on the topic of “Good Friday and the Jews.” In another innovative effort, they have both taught Talmud at leading churches as well as classes in Judaism.
Both Rabbis Berkowitz have many years of experience as work in national Jewish affairs and have been interviewed and quoted extensively in the media including New York Magazine, New York Sun, Manhattan Spirit, Our Town, The Jewish Week, The Associated Press, NEWSDAY, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, The New York Post, The Daily News, The Wall Street Journal, Newsday, CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, WPIX and WOR television.
Education both for adults and children is a keynote element of their ministry. Their groundbreaking innovations in emerging worship and their skill in inspiring preaching and teaching coupled with their enthusiasm and warmth have earned for them the admiration and high regard of the congregation.