Formerly, he served as vice president of the Wexner Heritage Foundation, the premier adult Jewish learning and Jewish leadership program in North America. Previously, he was national Dean of Adult Jewish Learning and Living of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion where he served on the faculty and administration for 15 years following his tenure at Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford, Connecticut.
Rabbi Olitzky is a leader in the development of innovative Jewish education, particularly for adults, he has shaped training programs for clergy of all faiths, especially in the area of pastoral care and counseling in the Jewish community. He has done pioneering work in the area of Jewish Twelve Step spirituality, as well as Jewish Gerontology. Rabbi Olitzky also serves as a fellow and consultant to Synagogue 3000 and is a partner with the Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health at HUC-JIR.
Together with professor Leonard S. Kravitz, Olitzky has authored a series of Tanakh commentaries. Their commentaries draw on classical Jewish works such as the Mishnah, Talmud, Targums, the midrash literature, and also the classical Jewish bible commentators such as Gersonides, Rashi and Abraham ibn Ezra. These commentaries take into account modern scholarship; while these books take note of some findings of higher textual criticism, these are not academic books using source criticism to deconstruct the Tanakh. Rather, their purpose is educational, and Jewishly inspirational, and as such do not follow the path of classical Reform scholars, or the more secular projects such as the Anchor Bible series. The books also add a layer of commentary by modern day rabbis. These books are published by the Union for Reform Judaism. Commentaries in this series now include Jonah, Lamentations, Ruth, the Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, and Proverbs.
Olitzky is a contributing editor for Shma: A Journal of Jewish Responsibility and is also the author of many books and articles in a variety of fields.
Among his most recent publications are:
- The Rituals and Practices of a Jewish Life: A Handbook for Personal Spiritual Renewal, with Dan Judson (Jewish Lights);
- The Book of Proverbs with Leonard Kravitz(UAHC Press);
- A Successful Jewish Interfaith Marriage: The Jewish Outreach Institute Guide to Opportunities, Challenges, and Resources with Joan Peterson Littman (Jewish Lights), and
- My Faith and Community: The Jewish Outreach Institute Guide for the Christian in an Interfaith Marriage (Jewish Lights).
Shorter articles include:
- Public Space Judaism Contact: The Journal of the Jewish Life Network/Steinhardt Foundation. Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life. Fall 2009: 10–11.
- Keep Our Shuls Safe But Still Friendly, with Edward M. Feinstein, Jewish Journal, September 17, 2008
- Synagogue: A New Concept for a New Age, Journal of Jewish Communal Service, Vol. 62/No. 1, 1985.
- and more.
His new translations of the Book of Ruth and the Book of Jonah were co-authored with Leonard Kravitz (URJ Press). His most recent publication is a joint project with JOI's Associate Executive Director, Paul Golin, entitled 20 Things for Grandparents of Interfaith Grandchildren to Do (And Not Do) to Nurture Jewish Identity in Their Grandchildren.
|This biographical article relies on references to primary sources. (August 2007)|