Donald Berlin

Donald Berlin

I have experienced and enjoyed a very fulfilling and blessed rabbinate these past 50 years. I was initially attracted to the idea of becoming a rabbi as a young teen. While my interest and feelings grew and expanded over time, it has been an extraordinary journey allowing me to encounter almost every facet of the rabbinate. I became a life-long student of the liberal arts and Jewish scholarship. I served every kind of pulpit- small, medium and large congregations, a part­-time one and an interim position. I taught at the university level. I served as a hospital chaplain. I was a camp rabbi each summer for many years. I held administrative positions with the UAHC/URJ. I even became an ethicist for 10 years in a clinical trial in ophthalmology. And, as a rabbi, I received many opportunities for communal involvement in the Jewish and larger communities including interfaith, inter-racial and multi-cultural activities. All these experiences allowed me to grow as a Jew, as a Zionist, as a religious leader, as a progressive community activist and as a caring and maturing human being.

The following bio outlines key aspects of my life with a more detailed description of my active involvement in the CCAR. I have not identified my other organizational affiliations and offices – some of them significant. To be sure, I am deeply indebted to my soul mate, Norma, and to our children and grandchildren  for enabling me to accomplish the challenges I undertook over the years to be a loving husband and a devoted father and Saba while trying to become the rabbi I aspired to become. I realize that I stand on the shoulders of my parents who inculcated in me the values and deep commitment I have for the Jewish People along with my teachers and mentors who set out high expectations for me to seek rabbinical authenticity. At the same time, I am most appreciative of the collegiality and support of so many colleagues, my closest friends, who added to my own love and high regard for the well-being of all rabbis. Special appreciation is extended to Arnie Sher with whom I partnered on the Joint Placement commission. All these elements have contributed immeasurably  to my development and to my awareness of just how fortunate and blessed I am for my health and enduring honor to be a rabbi.


University of Toronto- Honors Philosophy
University of Cincinnati – BA Philosophy
HUC-JIR- BHL, MAHL, Ordination, DD (honoris causa)

Rabbinic Thesis: Toward Course in Jewish Thought for the Reform College Student
under the tutelage of my beloved teacher and mentor, Dr  Sylvan Schwartzman, z”/

Rabbi, Temple Emanuel, Roanoke VA, 1965-1971
Rabbi, Congregation Keneseth Israel, Allentown, PA, 1971-1976
Senior rabbi, Temple Oheb Shalom, Baltimore, MD, 1976-1999
Rabbi Emeritus, Temple Oheb Shalom, 1999-present

Teaching Opportunities:
Principal, Temple Sinai Hebrew School, Toronto, ON 1957-1959
JCS Visits to colleges throughout Southwestern Virginia and Eastern Pennsylvania 1965-1975
Goucher College, Department of Philosophy and Religion, JCS Lecturer 1977-1998
St. Mary’s University and Seminary, Ecumenical Institute, JCS Lecturer 1983-1993
Ethicist, Clinical Study of Senile Macular Degeneration, National Institute of Health, 1984-1994
Chair, Rabbinic Advisory Committee & Rabbinic Staff, UAHC Betty and Joseph Harlam Camp

Retirement Opportunities:
Acting Regional Director, UAHC Mid-Atlantic Region, Washington, DC 1999-2001
Rabbi-in-Residence, Washington Hebrew Congregation, Washington, DC 2001-2002
Interim Director, URJ Great Lakes Region/Chicago Federation, Chicago, IL 2004-2005
Visiting Rabbi, Temple Beth Shalom, San Juan, PR 4-8 weeks, 2003-2007
Interim Rabbi, The Temple, Atlanta, GA 2007-2008
Instructor, Academy of Lifelong Learning, Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, 2010- present
Active member, Temple B’nai Israel, Easton, MD (very important for my retired “neshamah.”)

Personal Interests include:
Everything Israel- Young Judea, ZOA, Baltimore Zionist District, ARZA, UJA, Israel Bonds, AIPAC, J Street & Leading Many Congregational Visits
Mental Health: Clergy Training, Addiction Counselor, Funding and Policy Advocate
Classical Music, Chamber Music, Opera, Folk Music, Hazzanut
Antiques and Crafts
Lifelong passion for ice hockey – as player and spectator plus love of other professional sports
Extensive Travel
Men’s Book Club

Judaism and Health Committee
Elected, CCAR Mid-Atlantic Region, President
Elected, CCAR Board of Trustees
Ad Hoc Committee on Human Sexuality
Appointed, Long Range Planning Committee
Appointed, CCAR Representative to the Jewish Committee on Scouting, Boy Scouts of America
Chair, Nominating Committee
Elected, Chair, Joint Placement Commission
Elected, Membership Secretary
Elected, Board of Appeals
Atid Legacy Society
Mentor in the mentoring program of the Joint Commission of the Rabbinic Mentoring Institute
Participant, Presidents Kallah
Elected, NAORRR, President