Front Row (L-R): Rabbi David Lyon, David Scott, Miriam Friedman, Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz, Berne Black, and Lisa Stone
Back Row (L-R): Shirley Lavine, Rabbi Joshua Herman, Warren Rich, Sonny Gerber, Deena Gordon and Dr. Ed Septimus
On April 14-16, 2016, several members of the Houston 06 Wexner Heritage class welcomed back to Houston one of their favorite Wexner professors, Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz — also a Wexner Graduate Fellowship alum (Class 6) — for a shabbaton surrounding the exhibition of his limited edition artist portfolio, entitled “Passover Landscapes: Illuminations on the Exodus,” at Congregation Beth Israel’s Margolis Gallery (available for viewing until June 15, 2016).  As Interim Executive Director and Director of Lifelong Learning at Congregation Beth Israel in Houston, I assisted several different committees in the congregation with coordinating the weekend of programming.  It was such a treat for so many of us Wexner Heritage alumni to come together nearly ten years after becoming members in our class. Throughout his time in Houston, Rabbi Berkowitz engaged many different communities within and beyond Congregation Beth Israel, from students in the congregation’s Shlenker School to members of the Friends of Margolis Gallery to his former students in the Houston 06 Heritage class.  He began his weekend shabbaton at the Shlenker School with an art demonstration for fifth graders, where they explored Jewish text and the art of paper cutting.  He also previewed his portfolio of artwork, all related to the Passover Haggadah, for students during the Kabbalat Shabbat service.  On Thursday evening, a private reception for the Friends of the Margolis Gallery was held, where Rabbi Berkowitz discussed the intricacies of his artwork, including his technique of paper cuts and the history of his exhibit.  On Friday evening, Rabbi Berkowitz delighted the congregation with teachings on Passover and a tour of the Passover Landscapes exhibit, which contains 27 framed prints, including three paper cuts from his Haggadah commissioned by the Lovell family in Florida.  On Shabbat morning, Rabbi Berkowitz led a text study on Passover exploring teachings from the Mishnah, as well as sharing deeper insights in the artwork of the famous Moss Haggadah.  On Saturday evening, Rabbi Berkowitz concluded the weekend with a special teaching on Passover as it relates to Israel, redemption and the Holocaust.  

Special thanks to Dr. Stanley and Diane Novy and to the Wolff-Toomim Education Fund of Congregation Beth Israel for underwriting this incredible weekend of art and learning.  

David Scott, a Wexner Heritage alum (Houston 06), is Interim Executive Director and Director of Lifelong Learning at Congregation Beth Israel.  He has been with the congregation since January 2014, and he is a current participant in the two-year Executive Master’s Program at the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion.  David enjoys working with his wife, Rabbi Adrienne Pollock Scott, and they have two children, Beryt and Ezra.  David is also an attorney and practiced litigation for thirteen years after graduating from law school in 2001.  He can be reached at