Rabbi Aaron Bergman

Interviewed by Charlotte Dubin

March 8, 2017

Adat Shalom Synagogue, Farmington Hills, Michigan

Rabbi Aaron Bergman
Video 01:14:24


In this interview, Rabbi Bergman relates his experiences growing up as a child in Oak Park and his education in public schools.  He explains his father’s family’s experiences during the Holocaust in concentration camps Auschwitz and Plaszow, to when he eventually came to America in 1947.  In the Air Force, he was stationed in Germany during the Korean War.  The Rabbi talks about how different his mother’s experiences were as a first-generation American growing up in Detroit.

Rabbi Bergman speaks at length about his father and how he always shared his Holocaust experiences with him from the time he was about 5 or 6.  This was something that his father was very passionate about and even made copper sculptures that represented his experiences at concentration camps. With the sculptures, he put together an exhibit of his work and toured schools throughout the 1970s to give children an immersive experience of learning about the Holocaust.  He compares his father’s emotional and untrained artwork to his mother’s, who had a Fine Arts background and played piano.

The Rabbi briefly touches on his education at University of Michigan.  He mentions it was his involvement with Hillel House, and then majoring in Jewish Studies that got him interested in going to the Jewish Theological Seminary and ultimately becoming a rabbi.

While attending the Jewish Theological Seminary, Rabbi Bergman met his wife, Ruth. He briefly discusses what it is like for him to be a rabbi and how it affects his personal life.  Here, he discusses his four daughters.

Rabbi Bergman also discusses his views on Jewish-Christian relations, Jewish-Muslim relations, and Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations, and how he views the Syrian refugee situation.  This leads in to a discussion of the meaning of the Jewish Conservative Movement, and exactly what does it mean to be conservative with a 21st century morality.

The interview ends with the Rabbi speaking on how he is glad he does not remember a time when there was not Israel and speaks about the importance music, art, and books have always had on his life.

History of Narrator

Rabbi Aaron Bergman was born in Detroit and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.  He was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary and completed his graduate work in Jewish Folklore at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

He served as rabbi at both Congregation Beth Ahm and at Hillel Day School.  He was the founding director of Jewish Studies at Frankel Jewish Academy and is an instructor in the Melton Adult Educational program.

Rabbi Bergman became the Rabbi of Adat Shalom Synagogue in 2008.  He is married to Ruth Bergman, and they have four daughters.


Important Subjects

  • Hillel House
  • Holocaust
  • Israel
  • Rabbinical School

Important Names

  • Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

Credit as: Leonard N. Simons Jewish Community Archives. Rabbi Aaron Bergman Oral History Interview, March 8, 2017.