Since Rabbi Berkun's arrival to ATJC in 2007, both the synagogue and its school, the Tauber Academy, have grown tremendously. Through his warmth, passion and compassion, Rabbi Berkun has infused the Jewish community of Aventura with renewed vigor and life. He has both unified and energized the congregation by initiating new synagogue services, programs and celebrations that are meaningful and relevant, inspiring and enjoyable.
Rabbi Berkun received his rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 2001. Born in Connecticut and raised in Pittsburgh, Rabbi Berkun completed his undergraduate degree in philosophy at Columbia College of Columbia University.
Rabbi Berkun is a Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, where he completed the Rabbinic Leadership Initiative, a three year program of study and training for leading rabbis of all denominations. He is also a 2009 colleague of the Kellog Management Education for Jewish Leaders (KJL) at Northwestern University and the 2014 chairperson of the International Rabbinical Assembly Convention in Dallas, Texas.
Previously, Rabbi Berkun served as a rabbi of Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield, Michigan. Rabbi Berkun was elected as President of the Rabbinical Association of Greater Miami and currently serves as the Chair of the Synagogue-Federation Relations Committee. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, the National Rabbinic Cabinet for Israel Bonds, the National Council for AIPAC, and JNF’s Rabbis for Israel.
Rabbi Berkun utilizes his guitar playing and vocal skills to enrich the weekly popular “Friday Night Live” service. He has led several missions to Israel for teenagers, families, and adults, including a special Holocaust study mission to Poland and Israel entitled, “From Darkness to Light” as well as the “March of the Living.” In 2009, Rabbi Berkun served as the co-chair of the Miami Rabbinic Leadership Mission to the General Assembly in Israel. Together with local Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox rabbis, Rabbi Berkun fostered an environment of bridge-building, dialogue, and mutual understanding in an effort to create a more cohesive Miami Jewish Community.
A special focus of Rabbi Berkun’s has been interfaith relations. He participated in a unique 10-day interfaith mission of rabbis and African-American ministers to Senegal, West Africa and Israel. He has spearheaded many interfaith initiatives, including Gospel/Klezmer concerts and Black-Jewish Passover Seders, which were awarded national recognition by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism for outstanding Black-Jewish relations. Rabbi Berkun has worked closely with the Christian pro-Israel community and with the National Conference for Community and Justice, where he participated in interfaith retreats designed to promote understanding and respect among all races, religions, and cultures.
Rabbi Jonathan Berkun is married to Rabbi Lauren Berkun, who was also ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary. A graduate of Princeton University, Rabbi Lauren Berkun was a Wexner Graduate Fellow, a CLAL Rabbinic intern, and a Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute. She currently serves as the Director of Rabbinic and Synagogue Programs for the Shalom Hartman Institute, teaching classes and leading seminars for lay leaders in South Florida. Rabbis Berkun are blessed with three children, Jeremy, Jonah, and Eliana.