Rabbi and historian Myron Berman identified with the civil rights struggle through early experiences in the North. His most dramatic direct involvement occurred relatively late. A Conservative in Richmond, he served as a Jewish spokesperson and clergyman attempting to bring harmony with justice out of confrontation and to forge personal and professional bonds for progressive growth.
A northerner by birth and through attitudes conveyed by upbringing, I served as rabbi of Temple Beth El in Richmond, Virginia, for twenty- eight years, from 1965 to 1993. Reminiscing about the motivation that led me to a career in the rabbinate, I fondly recall the weekends spent with my grandfather in Temple Gates of Prayer, a Conservative synagogue in a quiet neighborhood in Flushing, New York. My parents, although ethnically oriented, were not particularly observant because of an almost seven-days-a-week commitment to a grocery store in another community. Major factors in stimulating my desire to learn more about Judaism included my affinity for my grandfather and the prestige I felt as a six-year-old attending adult services and the third Sabbath meal. These early years of my life were also influenced by a sexton, the Reverend I. Rosenbaum, who eventually taught me not only the Haftorah and Torah cantillations but also the traditional singing modes of the Sabbath and High Holy Day services.
Perhaps because of these influences and the fact that I lived in a non- Jewish area in another part of Queens, I continued my Jewish studies at the Florence Marshall Hebrew High School. We met for two afternoons a week in the late afternoon and for four hours Sunday morning. All