In the aftermath of the funeral service for my mother, while I was in college, I observed how the rabbi touched every one of our lives and supported us through that difficult time. I thought about all the other ways he was involved in people’s lives and in building Jewish community. A few nights later I took the rabbi aside and told him I wanted to be a rabbi. I haven’t wavered since.
I was ordained in 1980 at Hebrew Union College and Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. I earned a Master’s Degree in Hebrew Letters from Hebrew Union College in 1978. I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from UC Berkeley in 1975. Since my ordination, I have served as rabbi educator, assistant rabbi, and associate rabbi at Temple Emanu El, San Jose, rabbi at Beth Sholom Temple in Santa Monica, rabbi at Temple Beth Torah in Ventura, and as regional director, Pacific Central West Council, for the Union for Reform Judaism. I began serving as Beth Israel’s senior rabbi in 2007.
While studying to become a rabbi, I met and married a fellow rabbinical student named Aliza (pronounced Aleeza). We were ordained on the same day in June of 1980. Aliza went on to earn a master’s in Hebrew education and a master’s degree in marriage and family counseling and is now a licensed family therapist. Aliza and I have two wonderful children, Jenna and Yoni and three beautiful grandchildren. My brother, William Berk is also a rabbi, living in Israel after making aliyah in 1980. My sister, Betty is an artist and high school art teacher.