17 March 2008

Fifth Annual Gala Dinner

Last night, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah held its fifth annual gala dinner, this one being held at the UN Delegates Dining Room. After starting out with hors d’oeuvres, the evening proceeded up to the dining hall. The MC for the evening was Dr. Michelle Friedman, the Chair of YCT’s Department of Pastoral Counseling. After Dr. Friedman made her opening comments, Rabbi Saul J. Berman, YCT’s Director of Continuing Rabbinic Education, LHREI at YCT, gave a special lecture entitled “Reflections on Religious Authority,” followed by dinner. Following dinner, Rabbi Jeremiah Wohlberg spoke about Herb Kronish, Z”L, who was posthumously awarded the Tikkun Olam Award. Rabbi Dov Linzer, YCT Rosh haYeshivah & Dean, presented the first ever Alumnus of the Year Award to Rabbi Marc Gitler (YCT ’05), who then, himself spoke. Following this, was a video presentation about Rabbi Berman, followed by a presentation by Rabbi Avi Weiss, Founder & President of YCT, about Rabbi Berman, in presenting him with the Lifetime Rabbinic Achievement Award. Following this, Rabbi Weiss made some closing remarks, and then Dr. Elli Kranzler led a musical performance of singing and dancing, as people made their way to the dessert room.

“Lifetime Achievement Award: Rabbi Berman is a Leading Orthodox Teacher and Thinker,” in Celebrating a Pioneering Spirit: Fifth Annual Gala Dinner (New York: Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School, 2008): 6-7.

As a rabbi, a scholar, and an educator, he has made extensive contributions to the intensification of women’s Jewish education, to the role of social ethics in synagogue life, and to the understanding of the applicability of Jewish Law to contemporary society.

Rabbi Berman was ordained at Yeshiva University, from which he also received his BA and MHL. He completed a degree in law at New York University, and an MA in Political Science at the University of California at Berkeley.

Rabbi Berman was the Rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel in Berkeley, California from 1963 to 1969. He was an early leader in the Soviet Jewry movement and an active participant in the Civil Rights movement. He was present at the demonstrations in Selma, Alabama in 1965. From 1969 to 1971, Rabbi Berman was the spiritual leader of the Young Israel of Brookline, Massachusetts where he organized the Torah Community Project, a study-centered activist setting for students and young adults in the Boston area.

In 1971, Rabbi Berman was appointed Chairman of the Department of Judaic Studies of Stern College for Women of Yeshiva University. Under his leadership over the next thirteen years, it grew into the largest undergraduate Department of Jewish Studies in the United States. In 1984, Rabbi Berman accepted the position of Senior Rabbi of Lincoln Square Synagogue in Manhattan, where he served until 1990. In 1990, he returned to academic life as Associate Professor of Jewish Studies at Stern College and as an adjunct professor at Columbia University School of Law, where he teaches a seminar in Jewish Law. From 1995 to 1997, he served as Scholar in Residence at the JCC on the Palisades in New Jersey. In 1997, Rabbi Berman became Director of Edah, a new organization devoted to the invigoration of Modern Orthodox ideology and religious life.

Rabbi Berman is a contributor to the Encyclopedia Judaica and is the author of numerous articles which have been published in journals such as Tradition, Judaism, Journal of Jewish Studies, Dinei Yisrael, and many others. His writings on the subject of women in Halakha and on issues of Jewish Law and contemporary society have often been reprinted. Recently, he was highlighted in the PBS documentary, “Jews in America.”

In August 2006 Rabbi Berman joined the YCT administration as Director of Continuing Rabbinic Education where he has the opportunity to mentor and support the alumni of YCT once they have entered into the rabbinate.

Rabbi Berman is a loving husband, father, and grandfather. He is married to Shellee Berman and together they have four children, Efrat, Shama, Akiva, and Esther, two sons-in-law, one daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren.


“Alumnus of the Year Award: Rabbi Marc Gitler,” in Celebrating a Pioneering Spirit: Fifth Annual Gala Dinner (New York: Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School, 2008): 8.

Originally from New York, Rabbi Gitler is currently serving as the Rabbi of East Denver Orthodox Synagogue, following two years as the Assistant Rabbi of the Fifth Avenue Synagogue in New York City. A recipient of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship, Rabbi Gitler received his rabbinic ordination from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah in 2005. He holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service.

Upon graduation from Yeshiva University, Rabbi Gitler traveled to Belarus where he served for two years as the overseas director of YUSSR, a student-founded organization that works with Jewish communities in the former Soviet Union. While in Minsk and Moghilev, he organized Jewish communal programming, ranging from Sunday schools and summer camps for children to luncheons for the elderly. During his time at YCT Rabbinical School, Rabbi Gitler interned for two years at ASBI synagogue in Chicago’s north side and participated in the American Jewish World Service’s first rabbinical student delegation.

Rabbi Gitler is married to Sarah Geiger of Elizabeth, NJ, an alumna of Barnard College and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She is currently an Associate at Cravath, Swaine, and Moore. Most importantly, the couple was recently blessed with their first child, Sophie Golda.


“Tikkun Olam Award: Herb Kronish, Z”L,” in Celebrating a Pioneering Spirit: Fifth Annual Gala Dinner (New York: Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School, 2008): 9.

Herb Kronish passed away on December 11, 2007 after several months of a courageous fight with cancer, during which he used every moment to enjoy his family and many friends. After the death of his loving wife, Doris, in 1995, he embraced his role as the devoted father of Susan and Alan, and David and Sara, and the adoring grandfather of Joshua, Dana, El-Ro’ee, Yehonatan, Ashira, Tifferet, and Malachi. He was an exemplary son to his parents and a devoted brother. He held his role as cousin, uncle, granduncle, and friend in the highest esteem and love.

Throughout his lifetime, Mr. Kronish devoted his vast energy to Israel, Soviet Jewry, and to ways of insuring Jewish continuity. As a Founder and Honorary Life President of Congregation Ohav Shalom in Merrick, LI, through his active involvements with UJA Federation of Jewish Philanthropies, as a Chairman of the Greater NY Conference on Soviet Jewry, and as the Director of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, he demonstrated the strength of his commitment to Judaism and to Klal Yisrael.

Mr. Kronish was the founding partner of the law firm Kronish, Lieb, Weiner & Hellman, LLP. To his professional life and all his endeavors, he brought passionate commitment, vision, and the pursuit of excellence.

It was in the last year of his life, that Mr. Kronish, through his intimate friendship with Rabbi Saul J. Berman, forged a relationship with Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School. Herb brought the same level of exuberance and intensity to this endeavor as he had to all others. He created a curriculum to be brought into the Yeshiva that exemplified the form of social service that he embodied during his lifetime, Universal Tikkun Olam.

Herb Kronish set an unparalleled example of philanthropic leadership. His legacy is proudly continued through his family’s generosity, which aids the most vulnerable and strengthens Jewish life and learning.

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