OLITZKY, KERRY M. (1954– ), U.S. Reform rabbi, educator, administrator, and author. Olitzky was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and earned his B.A. (1974) and M.A. (1975) from the University of South Florida. He received his M.H.L. from Hebrew Union College in 1980, where he was ordained in 1981 and earned a D.H.L. in 1985. He served as assistant rabbi and director of religious education at Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford, Connecticut (1981–84), before returning to Cincinnati, Ohio, to become director of the school of education at HUC-JIR (1984–96). In 1991, his title was expanded to National Director for Research and Educational Development, and responsibility for development efforts related to institutional grants was added to his administration of degree programs, as well as of all HUC-JIR programs related to alumni and continuing education. In 1996, he was named National Dean of Adult Jewish Learning and Living, in charge of adult educational programs on all four campuses of HUC-JIR, including the Kollel in New York, the Beit Midrash in Jerusalem, and the Academy for Interfaith Studies in Cincinnati. He also supervised national and regional programs co-sponsored with other branches of the Reform movement and served on the Executive Committee of the CCAR-UAHC-NATE Joint Commission on Jewish Education. In 1998, Olitzky left HUC-JIR to
In 1999, Olitzky was appointed executive director of the Jewish Outreach Institute in New York City, an independent national organization dedicated to bringing Judaism to interfaith families and the unaffiliated. In addition, he has continued his pioneering work in the area of Jewish twelve-step spirituality, serving as rabbinic adviser to the Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically Dependent Persons, and Significant Others Council (JACS) and as a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Ministry in Addiction and Recovery. Olitzky was also the founding editor of the Journal of Aging and Judaism and a member of the American Society of Aging Forum on Religion and Aging.
Olitzky was a contributing editor for Shma: A Journal of Jewish Responsibility and a consultant to Capstone Press. His books include An Interfaith Ministry to the Aged: A Survey of Models (1989); Recovery from Codependence: A Jewish Twelve Steps Guide to Healing Your Soul (1993); The American Synagogue: A Historical Dictionary (1996); Grief in Our Seasons: A Mourner's Companion for Kaddish (1998); From Your Father's House … Reflections for Modern Jewish Men (1999); American Synagogue Ritual (2000); and Jewish Paths Toward Healing and Wholeness: A Personal Guide to Dealing with Suffering (2000). After collaborating with Leonard Kravitz on a critically acclaimed annotated translation with commentary of Pirke Avot (1993), Olitzky teamed up with Kravitz to embark on a series of similarly new translations of books of the Bible: The Book of Proverbs, Kohelet, Song of Songs, Ruth, Jonah and Lamentations (2000–06).
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.