Biography of Rabbi Phyllis Ocean Berman

Rabbi Phyllis Ocean Berman


  Rabbi Phyllis Ocean Berman was ordained in 2004 by ALEPH: Alliace for Jewish Renewal, and now serves as a Spiritual Director. She has served as Torah teacher and meditation guide in many retreats led by Rabbi David Cooper z'l and Shoshana Cooper, as assistant to Rabbi Shefa Gold in many Kol Zimra retreats, and as a teacher in retreats of Awakened Heart led by Rabbi Jeff Roth.

From 1993 to 2003, Berman was the director of the Summer Program of Elat Chayyim, a Jewish retreat center for healing and renewal near Woodstock, New York.  

 She is the co-author of three books of Jewish teaching:  A Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven:  The Jewish Life-Spiral as a Spiritual Path (Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2002)' Tales of Tikkun: New Jewish Stories to Heal the Wounded World (Jason Aronson, 1996; Rowman & Littlefield, 2004; Ben Yehuda Press, 2021); and Freedom Journeys: Tales of Exodus and Wilderness across Millennia (Jewish Lights, 2001), and co-editor / co-author of Liberating Your Passover Seder (Ben Yehuda Press, 2021.

 She has written on new liturgy (especially for or about women) and the relationship of liturgy to personal growth and transformation — for the journals Good Housekeeping,  Tikkun, Moment,  and Menorah, for the volume WorldsofJewishPrayer (Jason Aronson, 1993) and for several anthologies.

Berman chaired the board of P'nai Or Religious Fellowship for many years, and then was secretary of the board of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal. In 1991, she was ordained an Eshet Hazon (Woman of Vision) by the Jewish-renewal women's community.

She was a member of the editorial committee that created OrChadash (NewLight), an innovative guide to Shabbat-morning prayer and celebration. She often leads services, teaches Torah, and tells stories for synagogues, havurot, institutes, and retreat centers in North America, Europe, and Israel.

Berman also led a concurrent career: In 1979, she founded and in 2016 she retired as Co-Director of the Riverside Language Program, a renowned intensive English-language school for adult immigrants and refugees from all around the world. It was housed in Riverside Church in New York City. Out of that work she co-authored a book of stories of the lives of immigrants, Getting into It.

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