Olitzky, Kerry M. 1954-

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OLITZKY, Kerry M. 1954-

PERSONAL: Born December 22, 1954, in Pittsburgh, PA; son of Abraham Nathan (an engineering technician) and Frances (an inventory controller; maiden name, Reznick) Olitzky; married Sheryl Mandy Rosenblatt (a market researcher), August 28, 1977; children: Avi Samuel, Jesse Michael. Education: Attended American College in Jerusalem, 1971-72; University of South Florida, B.A., 1974, M.A., 1975; Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Cincinnati, OH, rabbinic ordination, 1981, D.H.L., 1985. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Jewish.

ADDRESSES: Office—Jewish Outreach Institute, 1270 Broadway, Suite 609, New York, NY 10001. E-mail—[email protected].

CAREER: Ordained rabbi, 1981. Beth Israel, West Hartford, CT, assistant rabbi and director of religious education for congregation, 1981-84; Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, New York, NY, director of graduate studies program at School of Education, 1984-98, national director for research and educational development, 1991-96, national dean of adult Jewish learning and living, 1996-98; Wexner Heritage Foundation, vice president, 1998-1999; Jewish Outreach Institute, New York, NY, executive director, 2000—;. Mature Adult Day Care Center, St. Petersburg, FL, program manager, 1976; American Jewish Archives, assistant archivist, 1978-81; B'nai B'rith Youth Organization, assistant regional director, 1978-81. Conference on Alternatives in Jewish Education, member of steering committee, 1981; Hartford Jewish Federation, member of Older Adults Committee and Education Committee, 1981; Rabbinical Fellowship of Greater Hartford, member, 1981; Hartford Jewish Center, member of board of directors, 1981; Greater Hartford Jewish Educators Council, member, 1981-84; Center for Jewish Life, honorary member of board of directors; Union of American Hebrew Congregations, facilitator for National Liheyot Task Force, and member of Gerontology Committee, executive committee of Joint Commission on Jewish Education, Committee on the Jewish Family, and Day School Curriculum Advisory Committee; member of National Interfaith Coalition on Aging and United Jewish Appeal/Federation's Task Force on the Jewish Aged; Open University of Israel, member of education board; Stepping Stones National Institute, board member; Bay Area Jewish High School, San Francisco, CA, member of advisory council; advisor for Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically Dependent Persons, and Significant Others Council; Skirball Center for Adult Jewish Learning at Temple Emanu-El, New York, NY, member of advisory council; People Advocating Therapeutic Homes, national board member; member of Inter-Religious Project Advisory Council of Felician College; Baruch College/Jewish Resource Center, member of advisory board; member of Rabbinic Cabinet of the United Jewish Appeal. ABC-Radio, producer and moderator of Message of Israel; executive producer of Torah Tapes: Contemporary Insights into the Weekly Torah Reading.

MEMBER: Jewish National Fund (member of Young Associates, 1979-81), National Association of Temple Educators, National Association for Foreign Student Affairs (honorary life member), Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education, Association of Reform Zionists in America, Gerontology Society of America, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Association of Jewish Studies, American Society of Aging (member of Forum on Religion and Aging), Association for Jewish Studies, Rabbinical Assembly (corresponding affiliate member), Central Conference of American Rabbis, Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (honorary life member).

AWARDS, HONORS: Vice Chancellors' grants, Universities of London, 1977, and New Zealand Universities, 1978; research grant, New Zealand Council for educational research, 1979; Rabbi Ronald B. Gittelsohn Prize, Rabbi Emil William Ziegler Prize, and Mr. and Mrs. Alvin Ziegler Prize, all from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, all 1981; Greater Hartford Jewish Federation Committee on Jewish Education incentive grant, 1983; senior fulbright scholar, Hong Kong, 1986; received first award given by Black Administrators' Alliance, County of Los Angeles, 1989; American Jewish Archives travel grant, 1990; institutional grants, Vaasa University, and University of Birmingham, both 1992; senior fulbright scholar, New Zealand, 1992; distinguished faculty service award, Academic Senate, University of Southern California, 1995; presidential colloquium in honor of Professor Emeritus Robert B. Kaplan, 1996; Philip C. Holland Lectureship, Washington State University, 1997; American Association for Applied Linguistics Award for distinguished scholarship and service, 1988; Twentieth-Century Award for Achievement, 2000; Willamette University Distinguished Alumni Award and Jason Lee Medallion, 2002; Sadei Iwataki Award for service to the profession, California Association of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, 2003.



Aging and Judaism (textbook), Alternatives in Religious Education (Denver, CO), 1980.

Critical Issues Facing American Jewish Youth: A Resource Book for Educators, Experimental Edition, Union of American Hebrew Congregations (Washington, DC), 1982.

Come Dance with Me: Life in the Jewish Shtetl, Experimental Edition, Union of American Hebrew Congregations (Washington, DC), 1983.

I Am a Reform Jew (student workbook), Behrman (West Orange, NJ), 1986.

Explaining Reform Judaism (teacher's guide), Behrman (West Orange, NJ), 1986.

My Jewish Community (student workbook), Alternatives in Religious Education (Denver, CO), 1986.

A Jewish Mourner's Handbook, KTAV (Hoboken, NJ), 1991.

(With Ronald H. Isaacs) A Glossary of Jewish Life, J. Aronson (Northvale, NJ), 1992.

When Your Jewish Child Asks Why: Answers for Tough Questions, KTAV (Hoboken, NJ), 1993.

Reform Judaism in America: A Biographical Dictionary and Source Book, 1824-1980, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1993.

The "How To" Handbook of Jewish Living, KTAV (Hoboken, NJ), 1993.

Sacred Celebrations: A Jewish Holiday Handbook, KTAV Publishing (Hoboken, NJ), 1994.

Eight Nights, Eight Lights, Alef Design Group (Los Angeles, CA), 1994.

Sacred Moments: Tales of the Jewish Life Cycle, Jason Aronson (Northvale, NJ), 1995.

The American Synagogue: A Historical Dictionary, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1996.

(With Rachel T. Sabath) Preparing Your Heart for the High Holy Days, Jewish Publication Society (Philadelphia, PA), 1996.

(With Ronald H. Isaacs) The Second "How To" Handbook for Jewish Living, illustrated by Dorcas Gilbert, KTAV (Hoboken, NJ), 1996.

(With Rachel T. Sabath) Striving toward Virtue: A Contemporary Guide for Jewish Ethical Behavior, KTAV (Hoboken, NJ), 1996.

The Jewish Wedding Ceremony, KTAV (Hoboken, NJ), 1996.

I Believe . . . : A Confirmation Textbook, KTAV (Hoboken, NJ), 1999.

(With Ronald H. Isaacs) I Believe: The Thirteen Principles of Faith, KTAV (Hoboken, NJ), 1999.

American Synagogue Ritual, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 2000.

An Encyclopedia of American Synagogue Ritual, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 2000.

Preparing Your Heart for Passover: A Guide for Spiritual Readiness, Jewish Publication Society (Philadelphia, PA), 2002.


Twelve Jewish Steps to Recovery: A Personal Guide to Turning from Alcoholism and Other Addictions, Jewish Lights Publishing (Woodstock, VT), 1991.

Renewed Each Day: Daily Twelve-Step Recovery Meditations Based on the Bible, two volumes, Jewish Lights Publishing (Woodstock, VT), 1992.

Recovery from Codependence: A Jewish Twelve-Steps Guide to Healing Your Soul, Jewish Lights Publishing (Woodstock, VT), 1993.

One Hundred Blessings A Day: Daily Twelve-Step Recovery Affirmations, Exercises for Personal Growth and Renewal, Reflecting Seasons of the Jewish Year, Jewish Lights Publishing (Woodstock, VT), 1993.

(Translator, with Leonard S. Kravitz) The Journey of the Soul: Traditional Sources of Teshuvah, J. Aronson (Northvale, NJ), 1995.

(Editor, with others) Paths of Faithfulness: Personal Essays on Jewish Spirituality, KTAV (Hoboken, NJ), 1996.

(With Carol Ochs) Jewish Spiritual Guidance: Finding Our Way to God, Jossey-Bass (San Francisco, CA), 1997.

Anticipating Revelation: Counting Our Way through the Desert: An Omer Calendar for the Spirit, Synagogue 2000, 1998.

Grief in Our Seasons: A Mourner's Companion for Kaddish, Jewish Lights Publishing (Woodstock, VT), 1998.

(Editor, with Lori Forman) Sacred Intentions: Daily Inspiration to Strengthen Spirit, Based on Jewish Wisdom, Jewish Lights Publishing (Woodstock, VT), 1999.

Jewish Paths toward Healing and Wholeness: A Personal Guide to Dealing with Suffering, Jewish Lights Publishing (Woodstock, VT), 2000.

(Editor, with Lori Forman) Restful Reflections: Nighttime Inspiration to Calm the Soul: Based on Jewish Wisdom, Jewish Lights Publishing (Woodstock, VT), 2001.


To Grow Old in Israel: A Survey of Recent Trends and Developments, Human Sciences, 1988.

In Celebration: An American Jewish Perspective on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution, University Press of America (New York, NY), 1988.

An Interfaith Ministry to the Aged: A Survey of Models, Human Sciences, 1988.

The Synagogue Confronts the Jewish Family of the Twenty-first Century, Union of American Hebrew Congregations/Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (Washington, DC), 1988.

(Editor) The Safe Deposit Box: And Other Stories about Grandparents, Old Lovers, and Crazy Old Men, Markus Wiener (New York, NY), 1989.

Leaving Mother Russia: Chapters in the Russian Jewish Experience, American Jewish Archives, 1990.

The Discovery Haggadah, KTAV (Hoboken, NJ), 1992.

Hebrew, Heroes, and Holidays: The Great Jewish Fun Book, Union of American Hebrew Congregations (Washington, DC), 1992.

Pirke Avot: A New Translation and Commentary, Union of American Hebrew Congregations (Washington, DC), 1993.

Documents of Jewish Life, J. Aronson (Northvale, NJ), 1993.

(With Ronald H. Isaacs) Doing Mitzvot: Mitzvah Projects for Bar/Bat Mitzvah, KTAV (Hoboken, NJ), 1994.

(Editor, with Ronald H. Isaacs) Critical Documents of Jewish History: A Sourcebook, J. Aronson (Northvale, NJ), 1995.

Will the Real Hero of Purim Please Stand Up?, Torah Aura Productions, 1995.

Healing Essays, KTAV (Hoboken, NJ), 1996.

(With Marc Lee Raphael) The American Synagogue: A Historical Dictionary and Sourcebook, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1996.

Rediscovering Judaism: Bar and Bat Mitzvah for Adults, KTAV (Hoboken, NJ), 1997.

From Your Father's House . . . : Reflections for Modern Jewish Men, Jewish Publication Society (Philadelphia, PA), 1999.

Shemonah Perakim: A Treatise on the Soul, Union of American Hebrew Press (New York, NY), 2000.

Work represented in anthologies, including The Jewish Principal's Handbook, 1983; and Visions of Excellence: The Reform Jewish Day School, Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1990. Contributor of articles, poems, and reviews to professional journals and popular magazines, including Cobblestone and South Florida Review. Columnist for JVibe (online magazine). Editor, Journal of Aging and Judaism; executive editor, Shofar; past executive editor, COMPASS; former special issue editor on aging and Judaism for Journal of Psychology and Judaism; contributing editor, Sh'ma: A Journal of Jewish Responsibility; member of editorial board, Journal of Ministry in Addiction and Recovery; coeditor of T'shuva: Bringing the News of Jewish Recovery.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Tales of Jewish Life, J. Aronson; The Big Book of Teshuvah, J. Aronson; Sparks beneath the Surface: A Psycho-Spiritual Commentary on the Bible, J. Aronson; "The Jewish Welfare Board," to be included in Encyclopedia of World War I, Garland Publishing; "A Jewish Theology of Aging," to be included in Handbook on Religion and Aging. Reform Judaism editor for the Oxford Dictionary of Judaism.

SIDELIGHTS: Kerry M. Olitzky is a rabbi, educator, and author of a wide variety of books with Jewish themes. While much of his writing deals with issues of Jewish education or history, his reference manuals provide a broader scope of information for children, parents, or general readers. Olitzky has also published four "twelve-step" books intended to guide Jewish readers through a spiritual healing process.

Unlike his nonfiction publications, Olitzky's work The Safe Deposit Box: And Other Stories about Grandparents, Old Lovers, and Crazy Old Men is a collection of tales, memoirs, and anecdotes concerning old age by Jewish writers. Issues such as Black-Jewish relations and attitudes toward the elderly are explored in some of the pieces. In addition to the title selection by Isaac Bashevis Singer, the book includes Grace Paley's "Dreamer in a Dead Language," Hugh Nissenson's "The Crazy Old Man," and short works by Dan Jacobson, Bruno Lessing, Anzia Yezierska, and Edna Ferber.

A Glossary of Jewish Life provides definitions of terms commonly used in Judaism, as well as biographical portraits of historical and contemporary figures. Divided into eight segments by subject matter, with headings including "Religious Practice" and "World Jewish History," the book also includes cross-references and a general index. About Olitzky's The American Synagogue, Gregory A. Crawford asserted in RQ that it is a "book [that] fills a definite niche in the literature of American Judaism and especially the literature of the synagogue in America." Crawford "highly recommended" the book "for both Jewish and Christian seminary libraries and for libraries serving sizable Jewish populations."

Olitzky once told CA: "I work in several areas. My work in education generally serves a particular need. Often, I use a book to translate into reality (especially in a Jewish context) a theoretical construct from secular education. I also write in order to bring individuals closer to their Jewish roots and, in the process, closer to God. I aim to help them make their lives holy and sacred. My work in history is based on interest in particular areas, often of an esoteric nature."



Publishers Weekly, October 13, 1989, p. 44.

RQ, spring, 1997, Gregory A. Crawford, review of The American Synagogue, pp. 448-449.