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Leah Berkowitz

Leah Berkowitz
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Leah Berkowitz

Rabbi Leah Rachel Berkowitz is the spiritual leader of Vassar Temple in Poughkeepsie, NY. She blogs at

Blog posts

The H-Spot Book Cover

More than “Galentine's Day”: Recognizing Female Friendships

Recently, a few of my clergywomen friends dropped by a congregational Shabbat dinner, and we spent the latter half of the evening catching up while people finished their meal. Some members of my community didn’t know how to process the presence of these women at my table, and a few expressed resentment that my attention was divided.

Ask Me Another Rubiks Cube

That Time I Apologized for Winning

As it turns out, I’m pretty good at word games, and I like to win. Once I figured the pattern of the game, I was able to answer the questions quickly and correctly. I didn’t even have a problem with the buzzer, as I’d feared. Somehow, I also had the mental bandwidth to realize that my behavior made it apparent that I was completely uncomfortable with winning.

Topics: Feminism
Rabbi Berkowitz at a Bat Mitzvah

Rabbinic Work and the Second Shift

Recently, I fielded two calls in one week about the under-representation of women rabbis: one was from an academic journal, the other was from a non-profit organization assembling a delegation of rabbis for a service-learning trip. Both of them needed more women to participate in their programs.

I said no.

A First-Generation Argentine Woman with her Daughter, 1936

Am I Glad My Mother Didn’t Abort Me?

I have one rule when it comes to writing opinion pieces: Never read the comments...It was harder to ignore the handwritten letter that arrived at my office.

Anita Diamant With the Jewish Wedding Now

An Interview with Anita Diamant

As wedding season kicks into high gear for rabbis everywhere, I’d be lost without The New Jewish Wedding, which has just been revised for the third time.

Shabbat Candles

Shabbat is a Two-Person Job

As an assistant rabbi, I'd found a rhythm: simple Friday night meals with friends; long, lazy Saturday afternoons to myself. Someday, I hoped to be partnered, and develop a new system, similar to my senior rabbi and his wife.

Topics: Rabbis
Members of the Commission on the Ordination of Women Rabbis

The One Personal Question You SHOULD Ask a Rabbinical Candidate in an Interview

If you want to ask your (future) rabbi a personal question, it should be: “How can we best support you?”

A few years ago, I wrote a blog post comparing rabbinical placement to dating. It was meant to be lighthearted advice for my colleagues as they searched for “the one”: a congregation that would nurture and challenge them during the next phase of their career. Now, as some of my new colleagues enter the job market for the first time, I have some advice for the search committees.

Topics: Rabbis
This is Where I Leave You, Main Image, Film, 2015

Sitting Shiva Post-Election

It wasn’t until people started calling me on Wednesday to express their condolences for “my loss” that I realized that I am grieving. I’m not grieving because I am disappointed that we didn’t shatter the glass ceiling, or because my party didn’t “win.” I am grieving because a candidate was elected to this country’s highest office by running on a platform of hatred and fear. I am grieving for the America I knew, for all of the setbacks that women and minorities are going to suffer, and for all the progress that was about to be undone.

Ray Frank

“In a Place Where There Are No Men”

The 21st century in general, and this season in particular, is a high stakes time in the congregational rabbinate. Taking a break from my annual scramble to produce four 20-minute sermons that will change the course of history (that’s really what it feels like), I had the opportunity to re-read some High Holy Day words that actually did change the course of history.

Topics: Yom Kippur
Close Up: Madame Secretary Notebook, HIllary Clinton Campaign 2016

I'm With Clinton, But I'm Not With Hillary

On July 28, I watched, with tears in my eyes, as former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton became the first woman to be nominated as a presidential candidate by a major political party. Whatever your politics—this is not a political post—it was incredible to watch another glass ceiling shatter and heartwarming to imagine what this moment will mean for all of the young girls, staying up late to hear Clinton’s speech.


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