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Yitzchak Berkovits (Hebrew: יצחק ברקוביץ), also spelled Yitzchak Berkowitz, (b. 1953) is an Orthodox Jewish rabbi, rosh kollel and posek (halakhic decisor) in Jerusalem. Through his 16 years as mashgiach ruchani of Yeshivas Aish HaTorah and EYAHT College of Jewish Studies for Women, he built a reputation as a lucid orator on halakhic and philosophical topics and a caring mentor for hundreds of English-speaking, baalei teshuva young men and women. He is considered one of the spiritual leaders of the worldwide baal teshuva movement.
Berkovits is the founder and rosh kollel of The Jerusalem Kollel, an institute dedicated to training rabbis and Orthodox Jewish outreach counselors for communities in the Jewish diaspora. Many of his students fill prominent positions around the globe. He is regarded as a "rabbi's rabbi" and as an adviser to hundreds of rabbis. He is also the dean and rosh hakollelim of Linas HaTzedek: The Center for Jewish Values, which is dedicated to spreading the awareness of mitzvot bein adam lechaveiro (mitzvot between man and his fellow man). He leads the Center's network of evening kollelim in Israel and the United States.
He is well-known to international audiences for his telephone tapes and book on shemiras halashon (laws of proper speech) for the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation. He serves as a Moreh Tzedek (religious guide) for Jerusalem's Sanhedria Murhevet neighborhood, where he resides, and leads that community's Congregation Minyan Avreichim.
Rabbi Berkovits was raised in the Brownsville and Boro Park neighborhoods of Brooklyn, New York. He studied at Toras Emes Kamenitz in Boro Park, Brooklyn, New York before leaving to Israel. In Israel he studied at the Mir yeshiva in Jerusalem. His parents are both Holocaust survivors.
He served as Menahel Ruchani of Yeshivas Aish HaTorah in Jerusalem for 16 years. He developed and supervised that yeshiva's rabbinic ordination program, graduating hundreds of students. He also designed and taught the halakha curriculum at EYAHT, Aish HaTorah's College of Jewish Studies for Women.
Berkovits is a leading proponent of what is known as the "kiruv movement". This means that he actively exhorts his students and followers to enter the field of Orthodox Jewish outreach.
Berkovits is a leading authority on mitzvot bein adam le'chavero, the Torah's guidelines for interpersonal relationships. He is well known for his expertise in the laws of lashon hara and is the author of Chofetz Chaim: A Lesson a Day (2 vol.). He has recorded thousands of tapes for the Aish HaTorah Audio Center on a vast range of halakhic and Talmudic topics. He speaks without notes in a lucid, pleasant style.
He is currently producing the Mishna Berura Yomi program for the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation.
He inspired Rabbis Tzvi Muller and Paysach Freedman toward founding The Center for Jewish Values in Jerusalem in 2001. Today, Rabbi Berkovits heads The Center's international network of evening kollelim which study the laws of mitzvot bein adam le'chavero. Additionally, the organization has published nine volumes of Berkovits' writings on these topics.
Rent control committee
In 2007 Berkovits founded a rent control committee in the Sanhedria Murhevet neighborhood of Jerusalem, where he resides, in response to price gouging on the part of landlords renting to non-resident Haredi families. Many other neighborhoods followed his lead, and this policy was adopted by Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman of Bnei Brak and the Belzer Rebbe. This effort has served to maintain reasonable rental prices for foreigners living in Jerusalem.
- A Woman's Mitzvah: A Fully Sourced Guide to the Laws of Family Purity
- Chofetz Chaim: A Lesson A Day
- The Six Constant Mitzvos
- The Jerusalem Kollel home page.
- Jerusalem Kollel Alumni Serving Am Yisrael
- Rosenblum, Jonathan. New learning framework for the frum baalebos. London Jewish Tribune, March 11, 2004.
- Rose, Binyamin. "Learning to Care: A 'Sichas HaChag' with Rav Yitzchak Berkovits, shlita". Mishpacha, 16 May 2010, pp. 38–46.
- Rabbi Shimon Finkelman and Rabbi Yitzchak Berkowitz. The concepts and laws of proper speech arranged for daily study. Mesorah Publications. ISBN 0-89906-321-7.