Rabbi Saul J. Berman, a leading Orthodox teacher and thinker who has made extensive contributions to the role of social ethics in synagogue life and to the understanding of the applicability of Jewish law to contemporary society, will be the featured speaker at the Joseph and Julia Macy Memorial Lecture at Congregation Agudath Sholom in Stamford on Tuesday, September 12, at 7:30 p.m.
His topic, which will focus on the obligation of forgiving individuals before the high holidays, will be “Forgiveness for Failings in Friendships.”
“We are delighted to be able to host one of the major figures in the Jewish community for an important program,” said Michael Feldstein, who is helping to coordinate the event. “We are also very proud to have the family of Joseph and Julia Macy, well-known philanthropists from our local area, dedicate this lecture in their memory.”
Born in Hungary and a survivor of the Holocaust, Joseph Macy built a successful business in the United States, and supported many Jewish causes, including his synagogue, Ahavath Achim, in Fairfield, Connecticut, and the Orthodox Union. He had a passion for life, and possessed an intense love and devotion to his family and to the larger Jewish community. Julia Macy, his partner in everything he did, was an active and much-loved member of the Fairfield Jewish community in her own right.
Their two daughters are Toby Schaffer, who lives in Stamford, Connecticut, and Barbara Friedman, who lives in Englewood, New Jersey. They also have many grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Rabbi Berman was ordained at Yeshiva University, from which he also received his B.A. and his M.H.L. He completed a degree in law at New York University, and an M.A. in political science at the University of California at Berkeley.
Rabbi Berman 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 at Stern College for Women of Yeshiva University. Under his leadership, it grew into the largest undergraduate department of Jewish studies in the United States. He currently teaches courses there.
From 1984 to 1990, Rabbi Berman was the senior rabbi of Lincoln Square Synagogue in Manhattan. He also serves as an adjunct professor at Columbia University School of Law, where he teaches a seminar in Jewish Law. In 1997, Rabbi Berman became director of Edah, an 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 that have been published in journals such as Tradition, Judaism, Journal of Jewish Studies and many others.
The lecture is free and open to the entire community. Refreshments will be served after the lecture.
By Michael Feldstein