Kerry Olitzky

One Family, Two Faiths, A Multitude Of Questions

Interfaith marriages are hard enough, but a Jewish-Muslim family raising dual-identity children?

07/06/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Her father fled Nazi Germany before World War II, arriving in New York as a refugee; her grandparents and an aunt were murdered at Auschwitz; and another aunt, now 92, somehow survived two years of hiding in Berlin.

His grandfather built a life in India as a renowned Islamic and Persian scholar, a teacher and an imam at the local mosque, and his Muslim family continues to live in South Asia.

With two such markedly different backgrounds, the chances of Helene Lauffer and Muzaffar Chishti meeting, much less falling in love, could be seen as remote by many observers. 

Helene Lauffer and Muzaffar Chishti are hoping their daughter Maryam “examines both sides of her background and synthesizes them

Top Ten Reasons To Hate Newsweek's Annual Top Rabbis List

Since 2007, Newsweek has been issuing an annual list of America’s 50 Most Influential Rabbis. I am pleased to say that several rabbis who are welcoming of interfaith families, including Rabbi Kerry Olitzky of the Jewish Outreach Institute, are on this year’s list.

A hearty mazel tov to Rabbi Olitzky and many of the other people I know personally, like Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of Congregation Beth Simchat Torah and Rabba Sara Hurwitz, who made the list.

However, the list itself irritates the hell out of me and I am hoping that, with the struggling news magazine now on the auction block, this year’s list will be the last. Here, in no particular order, are my reasons:

Reform Cuts Outreach Program

01/10/2003
Staff Writer
A year after a study found the Reform movement was doing a good job of reaching out to interfaith families, the movement (North America's largest Jewish stream) is dramatically cutting its more than 20-year-old outreach program. The cuts come as the movement's Union of American Hebrew Congregations, blaming the recession, is slashing its total operating budget of about $20 million by 10 percent, or $2 million.

The Debate On 'Proactive Conversion'

05/21/1999
Staff Writer
Social scientist Gary Tobin acknowledges that some Jewish leaders think his bold idea to help save the future of American Jewry is part of a "lunatic conversation. "Having said that, the San Francisco-based demographer launches into a carefully reasoned presentation of his multibillion-dollar proposal called "proactive conversion" to make Judaism more attractive to Christians, agnostics, non-Jewish spouses of Jews and children of mixed marriages.

Do Kids Of Interfaith Families Choose Judaism?

05/04/2001
Staff Writer
Two new surveys are shedding light on the religious lives of interfaith families and their children, but what kind of light depends on which side of the intermarriage debate you’re on. An American Jewish Committee-sponsored survey found that the great majority of mixed-married households that identify as Jewish incorporate substantial Christian celebrations into their family lives, compared to only a tiny proportion of inmarried families.
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