(New York, NY)
Nov 23, 2005
Rabbi David Berger
Professor of History, Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York
Rabbi David Berger was raised in Brooklyn, NY, where he attended the Yeshiva of Flatbush for both elementary and high school. He is a graduate of Yeshiva College, has Smicha from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary and studied at Columbia University where he completed an MA and Ph.D.
Rabbi David Berger is Broeklundian Professor of History at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is also Visiting Professor of Jewish History at the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Yeshiva University, a Fellow of the American Academy for Jewish Research, Co-chair of the Academic Advisory Committee of the National Foundation for Jewish Culture, and former President of the Association for Jewish Studies.
Rabbi Berger has been a member of the RCA for about twelve years. He has been an RCA
representative to IJCIC (International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations) for many years. He also serves on the RCA’s interfaith committee and the recently created RAPID (Responses, Policies, and Ideas) committee. Rabbi Berger has spoken at several RCA conventions, mostly on Jewish-Christian relations.
He is the author of The Jewish-Christian Debate in the High Middle Ages, which was awarded the John Nicholas Brown Prize by the Medieval Academy of America, and co-author of Judaism's Encounter with Other Cultures: Rejection or Integration?, a Finalist for the Jewish Book Award in Jewish Thought. His book, The Rebbe, the Messiah, and the Scandal of Orthodox Indifference, which has now been published in an updated Hebrew version (“Ha-Rebbe Melekh ha-Mashiach,” Sha’aruriyyat ha-Adishut, ve-ha-Iyyum al Emunat Yisrael), received the 2003-2004 Samuel Belkin Literary Award.
He has written numerous studies on medieval Jewish history, Jewish-Christian relations, anti-semitism, and the intellectual history of the Jews.
He has been a Fellow of the Annenberg Research Institute and a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem, has served as a Visiting Professor at Yale University and Harvard University, and is a member of the Executive Committee of the American Academy for Jewish Research, the Council of the World Union of Jewish Studies, and the editorial board of Tradition.
Looking at his career through a rabbinic or religious lens rather than an academic one, Rabbi Berger considers his most important activities to be the following:
• Writing Jews and “Jewish Christianity” with Michael Wyschogrod, Several testimonials indicate that it has saved at least a few people from shmad.
• Writing the medieval and early modern section of Judaism’s Encounter with Other Cultures as well as several contributions to Tradition and other publications to defend and delineate the ideological stance of Modern Orthodoxy on a variety of issues.
• Teaching in the inaugural mini-semester of the Steinsaltz yeshivah in Moscow in 1989—the first time that an officially recognized yeshivah was permitted to operate in the Soviet Union.
• Introducing many students who were to become leaders of Orthodoxy to the serious study of Jewish history.
• Presenting the views of Jews in general and Orthodox Jews in particular in interfaith forums. On occasion, these presentations afforded the opportunity to address misperceptions of Zionism and the State of Israel.
• Attempting to persuade the Orthodox community that it must act vigorously to delegitimate what he has described as “the false messianism and avodah zarah prevalent in the Lubavitch movement.” Rabbi Berger has characterized his work in this area as follows: “Despite a 1996 RCA resolution that was a source of deep gratification, these efforts have not met with much success, so that I live with the unspeakably distressing consciousness that after devoting much of my career to the study of the Jewish-Christian debate, I have seen the Orthodox rabbinate of my generation destroy defining elements of the religion they are charged to protect and obliterate the fundamental theological distinctions between Judaism and Christianity that our ancestors gave their lives to preserve.”
Rabbi Berger is married to Pearl, who is Dean of Libraries at YU. Together they have three children.