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Rabbi Saul Berman Gives Impactful Speech Commemorating Rabbi Heschel’s Yahrzeit

Rabbi Saul Berman, a close friend of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, spoke in front of the Heschel High School on Tuesday, Jan. 2, in honor of Rabbi Heschel’s yahrzeit

As opposed to sharing insights about Rabbi Heschel’s life as most expected, Rabbi Berman told two stories about his and Rabbi Heschel’s shared experiences in Selma, Alabama, in the midst of the civil rights movement. The focus of the speech was controversial among students. “I thought [the program] didn’t really commemorate Rabbi Heschel enough, it was really more about the civil rights period,” a junior said. “I feel like he could’ve talked more about Heschel himself,” another junior said. 

Lindsay Biebelberg, who planned the program, believes that Rabbi Berman’s stories helped capture Rabbi Heschel’s values. “[Rabbi Heschel and Rabbi Berman] view Judaism not only as a community of people who have shared culture, ethnicity, language, etc., but also as a value system,” she wrote via Email afterwards. She continued by writing that Rabbi Heschel always felt the need to “fight for the rights of marginalized people,” making Rabbi Berman’s speech relevant to the occasion.

Reflecting on the program, Biebelberg wrote that she considers it a success. “Some time in the future, it will be pretty awesome that we are all able to say that we heard Rabbi Berman speak,” she concluded. 

Despite students’ mixed opinions regarding the relevance of his speech, many agree that Rabbi Berman’s insights were meaningful and impressive. “I thought he was informative,” said one student. “The events that he told us about were very interesting,” said another. 

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