Memories and Tributes
Marion tells of Max
David tells of his Father
Ed Young reads from one of Max's poems, "The Visit"
. Although we only got to know Max in his last few years, we considered him and Marion among our friends. We were amazed and impressed with the scope of Max's activities during these years, and we enjoyed their company at quite a number of occasions, sharing visits to the museums and theatres, dinners and bridge games. We were touched by Marion's devotion and care of Max when he needed help. We were proud of him for continuing to enjoy life and the good things around him. He will be greatly missed....Eileen and Mel Sofian
I had Mr. Berkowitz in the early seventies and learned the system he invented of diagramming sentences using boxes. Until then I had never understood grammar. Going to his class was the high point of my day...Herbert Rosenbloom
I read the obituary in the Times today. It brought back great memories of Birmingham High in the early 1960's. Max Berkovitz was my English teacher in 10th grade. He was always so dedicated and interesting. He was such a great storyteller. I don't remember very many of my teachers, but Mr. Berkovitz was one of those special ones that I could never forget. My sister had him as an English teacher before me, as did her husband at Pierce College. All three of us have vivid memories of Mr. Berkovitz because he was such a special teacher. I was happy to see his website and to see photos of him at 89 and 90. Please forward my message to his family...Marti Devore
Max was my English teacher at Birmingham High School. I fondly remember him: his heart-felt grin--a cup of coffee in one hand -- a nosh in the other. I can honestly say that Max was one of a few teachers who prepared me for college. Along the way, he taught me important truths about life. Always clear and concise, Max wrote in my 1974 yearbook: "Please come back. And bring lunch." With news of his passing, I find myself wishing I could go back. I'd bring lunch and tell him that I used the tools he gave me. Then, I would brag and share my special pride: that my oldest daughter received her bachelors and masters degrees in English literature, and will be pursuing her doctorate this fall. I wish to express my sincere condolences to dear family and friends. L'Chaim... Dana R. Dorsey (Dworsky)
MEMORIAL TO MAX BERKOVITZ from Ed Young-12/7/07 I have known Max for about 10 years (a relatively "short-time " friend). We were in Brandeis study groups together and socialized with our wives. Ruth and I always really enjoyed our times with Max and Marion. When we saw one another, there was a simpatico, a close feeling, an empathetic understanding. We talked about education, politics, travel, earlier experiences in our lives, sports, ongoing aggravation with the computer, family and how we were getting along at our age. Whenever we met, it was the same routine. He gave a strong-a very strong -handshake (I imagined what a tennis racket felt like at the end of his arm ready to move into a forehand stroke). Quietly, he let you know his presence. This was followed by a look and a wry smile with a twinkle in his eyes and then -a question, "So--what's new?" I knew Max as a warm, gentle man -- always with a smile and very positive attitude. He was a curious, thoughtful person and always interested in new ideas and in reworking the old ones. He expressed his ideas and his feelings about things so well and often came up with clever sayings or comments in English and Yiddish (which I didn't understand)-but my wife, Ruth, and Max enjoyed speaking Yiddish together)-so it wasn't a waste. With Max, if he liked you he said so - straight out. Max was a teacher and he loved what he did. As a former educator, I would have really enjoyed having Max as a colleague and as an administrator, would been happy to have our college students "experience him". I learned much from him when we spoke of his philosophy and his beliefs about how to make teaching meaningful. I wish I had him for my Senior English teacher! (Then perhaps I would have been able to pass the Subject A exam and been able to enroll in a regular Freshmen English class) Max's quietness belied his intellectual and teaching activism. Max's attitude about teaching was so important. To him words were like bright shining jewels. He often said. "I don't teach students, I teach people. "I don't teach subject matter, I teach comprehension and understanding" Max was a great humanistic educator. He truly believed 1) that all students can learn, 2) that the relationship between the student and teacher makes a difference in student learning, 3) that if the student is not achieving, then the teacher has to find a way to reach the student (he didn't "blame" the student) and 4) that learning to use language to communicate is vital to the kind of life you live---for without communication, we would be, as he said, "lonely people in separate capsules drifting ignorantly through unknown space." Max was a firm believer in the idea that "it is better to light one candle than to curse the dark" It was difficult for me to see this alert, thoughtful, mentally sharp and alive man who enjoyed playing tennis, having difficulty with remembering, understanding, and keeping his balance. I'm sure that it was even more difficult for him-- as he was aware of what was happening to him-- when he asked me "who is that person" or "what were they talking about" or as he reached uneasily for his cane. But he still had some of his twinkle, his smile, his ever-present strong handshake, and he could still kibbutz using Yiddish phrases and comment on the sad state of education. He loved to talk about teaching and the students he had known-and some who still kept in touch with him. Max was a real mentch. I would like to close with a poem that Max wrote, about a grandmother that he never knew, that expresses his humanity, his feeling, and the often forgotten importance of relationships. It is called-- "The Visit All are asleep when I return But I do not feel alone. The kitchen is a quiet welcome, a chapel lit By the glass encased memorial candle For a grandmother I had never seen. My father's words, her only photograph, (said) "Suffered much. Always gentle." The glass is almost empty now, Flashing wild hunger for tallow. To neutral walls, I sit and watch. Finally, Resignation, a tiny flame. The last weak flicker Fades to a thin smoke wisp, Curling gently Around my fingers As I reach for arms That never held me." Max, we can't "reach you" now, but you will be sadly missed, yet lovingly remembered.
I just discovered the death of my favorite Birmingham HS teacher Max Berkovitx. I took three English classes from Max in the early sixties. I was the business manager of The Courier and Max was my mentor. To say I’m distressed at his passing is a huge understatement. I will always remember his classroom “histrionics,” particularly his lecture on how students walk around expecting someone (something) to pour knowledge on them from above. He was always inspirational, and I have even copied him in my short teaching career. Max could motivate, he could cajole, and he demanded that you both learn the English language and learn how to use it. God, we will all miss him. But, I believe he accomplished what he was sent here to do.
Jim Warner
BHS ‘62
Hello everyone, I am one of Max Berkovitz' students. I came across this short video I made of Max in 2005. I hope you enjoy it. Cordially,Charlie Harold
Max reading from his poetry

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