Teachers-in-Residence from The Shalom Center

Rabbis Phyllis O. Berman & Arthur O. Waskow


One way in which The Shalom Center does its work (and supports the work financially as well) is by arranging Shabbatonim, Teacher-in-Residence engagements, etc., for Rabbi Arthur O. Waskow, founder (1983) and director of The Shalom Center and author of 22 books on Jewish thought and practice and on public policy, and his wife Rabbi Phyllis O. Berman, for 12 years the director of the summer institute at the Elat Chayyim Center for Healing & Renewal; founder and until her retirement in December 2015 for 36 years director of the Riverside Language program;  story-writer, story-teller, midrash-maker, liturgist, and Spiritual Director in the movement for Jewish renewal; author or co-author of Becoming Whole Again, Freedom Journeys, Tales of Tikkun, and A Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven.

They have often been invited to serve as speakers, teachers, and Visiting Scholars by synagogues, Hillels, university religion departments, interfaith gatherings and conferences, etc. Fees vary according to length of the task, its distance from Philadelphia, etc. For more information write Awaskow@aol.com or call at 215/844-8494.

Typically, they might --

  • As part of a Friday-evening service, do story-telling of new Jewish midrashic tales, which they have written.
  • On Shabbat, Reb Arthur might weave a conversation on the Torah portion of the week, and join with Reb Phyllis in leading a contemplative chanting service.
  • On Shabbat afternon and/or Sunday, they might as a panel or one of them as an individual might initiate a discussion on --
    • "Seeing through New Eyes Jewish Ritual, the Life-cycle, & the Festivals"
    • "From the Hebrew Bible to the Climate Crisis: An Exploration of Healing between the Earth and Human Earthlings"
    • "Personally Experiencing the Interweaving of Earth & Human Earthlings"
    • "Hearing God as the Breath of Life: Elijah's Still Small Voice"
  • They might also read (in dramatic dialogue) the Song of Songs, and then lead a discussion of its meaning;

Other topics they sometimes explore:

  • The Origins and Meaning of Jewish Renewal
  • "Down-to-Earth Judaism"
  • "Sacred Earth, Sacred Work, Sacred Rest . A Jewish Response to Disemployment & Overwork in American Society."
  • "Seasons of Our Joy: the Meaning and Practice of the Festival Cycle" (or any specific festival)
  • "Can the Children of Abraham, Hagar, & Sarah Make Peace?"

Two brief bios follow: Phyllis Berman was for 12 years director of the Summer Institute of Elat Chayyim, a Jewish retreat center for healing and renewal near Woodstock, New York. She is the co-author of Freedom Journeys, A Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven, & Tales of Tikkun: New Jewish Stories to Heal the Wounded World, which grew out of her story-telling for synagogues, Jewish Community Centers, and Hillel houses. Berman has written on new liturgy (especially for or about women) and the relationship of liturgy to personal growth and transformation for the journals Good Housekeeping, Moment, and Menorah, and for the volume Worlds of Jewish Prayer (Jason Aronson, 1993). In 1978, Berman founded and till her retirement in December 2015 directed the Riverside Language Program, a renowned intensive English-language school for adult immigrants and refugees from all around the world. For many years, she chaired the board of P'nai Or Religious Fellowship  and was secretary of the board of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal. In 1991, Berman was ordained an Eshet Hazon (Woman of Vision) by the Jewish-renewal women's community and in 202 was ordained to the rabbinate by ALEPH.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow Since creating the original Freedom Seder 1969, Rabbi Arthur Waskow has been one of the leading creators of theory, practice, and institutions for the movement for Jewish renewal. With Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi he co-founded ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal. He founded (1983) and directs The Shalom Center, a prophetic voice in jewish, multireligious, and American life to seek peace, pursue eco-socal justice,  and heal the Earth. Among his seminal works in Jewish renewal are The Freedom Seder (l969); Godwrestling (l978); Seasons of Our Joy (l982; rev. ed. 2014); Down-to-Earth Judaism: Food, Money, Sex, and the Rest of Life (William Morrow, 1995) and Godwrestling - Round Two (Jewish Lights, 1996; recipient of the Benjamin Franklin Award); and co-authored The Tent of Abraham, A Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven, and  Freedom Journeys.

In 1996, Waskow was named by the United Nations a "Wisdom Keeper" among forty religious and intellectual leaders who met in connection with the Habitat II conference in Istanbul. In 2014 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award as Human Rights Hero from T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. In 2015 the Forward named him one of the “most inspiring” Rabbis.   His most recent arrest of about 23 was in a protest at the US Capitol calling for Congressional action to renew democratic process in election campaigns, both at the level of hyperwealth flooding campaigns and at the level of voter suppression.

See also Waskow’s pioneering essay, “Jewish Environmental Ethics: Adam and Adamah,” in Oxford Handbook of Jewish Ethics (Oxford Univ. Press, 2013).Waskow founded and edited (1978-2005) the journal New Menorah. He is co-editor of Trees, Earth, & Torah: A Tu B'Shvat Anthology, published in October 1999 by the Jewish Publication Society. With his brother Howard he wrote Becoming Brothers (Free Press, 1993), a "wrestle in two voices" about their process of conflict and reconciliation. Waskow has taught at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and the Departments of Religion at Swarthmore College, Temple University, Drew University, and Vassar College. In 1963, Waskow took a doctorate in United States history from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He worked as a legislative assistant in the U. S. House of Representatives, joined in founding the Institute for Policy Studies, and wrote six books on miilitary strategy, disarmament, racial conflict, and nonviolence in American social change. Through the l960s, he was active in writing, speaking, electoral politics, and nonviolent action in the search for peace between the United States and Vietnam.

Fees vary according to length of the task, its distance from Philadelphia, etc. For more information write Awaskow@aol.com or call at 215/844-8494.