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Gittelsohn, Roland Bertram


GITTELSOHN, ROLAND BERTRAM (1910–1995), U.S. rabbi. Gittelsohn, who was born in Cleveland, Ohio, was ordained at the Hebrew Union College in 1936. After serving as rabbi from 1936 to 1953 at the Central Synagogue of Nassau County in Long Island, he was appointed rabbi of Temple Israel, Boston, Mass. in 1953 and served there for the remainder of his career. Gittelsohn served as a U.S. Navy chaplain from 1943 to 1946 where he was the first Jewish chaplain in U.S. history assigned to the Marine Corps. He received three ribbons for his role in the Iwo Jima campaign and preached the address of dedication of the Jewish section of the Iwo Jima cemetery. He was a prominent communal leader serving on President Harry S. Truman's Committee on Civil Rights in 1947 and on the Governor's Commission in Massachusetts, including the Governor's Commission on Abolition of the Death Penalty (1957–58), the Governor's Committee on Migratory Labor (1960–62) and the Governor's Committee to Survey Operations of Massachusetts Prisoners (1961–62). Long active in Reform movement affairs, in 1968 he was elected president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. He was also president of the Association of Reform Zionists of America and was a member of the Zionist General Council of the World Zionist Organization. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, he repeatedly called on the American Jewish community to adopt a more activist position on social and political issues, particularly in opposition to the war in Vietnam. Gittelsohn wrote Modern Jewish Problems (1935), Little Lower than the Angels (1955), Man's Best Hope (1961), My Beloved Is Mine (1969) on the Jewish view of marriage; and Fire in My Bones (1969).

[Abram Vossen Goodman]

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