Join us for Shabbat Services: Friday at 6:00 pm, Saturday at 9:30 am
An egalitarian Conservative congregation serving the diverse Orange County Jewish Community

Rabbi Elie Kaplan Spitz

Rabbi of Congregation B’nai Israel, Tustin, CA since 1988.
Adjunct Lecturer of Jewish Law and Pastoral Rabbinics, American Jewish University, 1999-2008;
Lecturer at Chapman University, 2011-2014; visiting professor 2015.

FAMILY

Married to Linda Kaplan Spitz; father of Joseph, Jon, and Anna.

EDUCATION

Rabbinic Ordination, May 1988

  • The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, New York, NY, 1985-1988
  • Neve Schecter, Jerusalem, Israel. 1984-1985
  • The University of Judaism, Los Angeles, CA – Bachelor of Hebrew Literature.                  1983-1984

Juris Doctor, 1978

  • Boston University School of Law, Boston, MA, 1975-1978

Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, 1975

  • Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, 1972 and 1975
  • Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel – Concentrations in Jewish Philosophy and Psychology. 1972-1974, 1984-1985

PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS

Currently

Rabbinical Assembly Committee of Law and Standards (1994-2004; 2008-)
Bar Associations (Inactive status) of California, Arizona, and Massachusetts

Previously

Member of Rabbinic Cabinet of the American Jewish University (1993-2003)
Executive Committee, Rabbinical Assembly, 1993-1996
President, Orange County Board of Rabbis 1993-1994
CAJE – An Editor of CAJE Magazine 1988-1994
Contributing Editor of Jewish Spectator 1995-2002
National RA Convention Board, 1993-1995; Chair, Practical Rabbinics – 1993
RA Publications Committee, 1991-1995; Pamphlet chair, 1994-1996
Secretary, American Rabbinic Network for Ethiopian Jewry, 1991-1992
President, JTS Student Council, 1986-1987

Awards

Mickey Weiss Award for Outstanding Alumni, American Jewish University (formerly the University of Judaism), 2004.

Books

  • Does the Soul Survive? A Jewish Journey to Belief in Afterlife, Past Lives & Living with Purpose (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2000; Second edition 2015).
  • Healing from Despair: Choosing Wholeness in a Broken World (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2008);
  • Increasing Wholeness: Jewish Wisdom and Guided Meditations to Strengthen and Calm Body, Heart, Mind, and Spirit (2015)

Pamphlets

  • “Do Jews Believe in the Soul’s Survival?” (LifeLights, 2002).
  • “Jewish and American Law on the Cutting Edge of Privacy: Computers in the Business Sector,” (University of Judaism Papers, 1986).

Contributions to Books

  • “The Wisdom of the Healing Hand,” and “The Gifts of Blessing Another,” in Grieving with Your Whole Heart: Spiritual Wisdom and Practice for Finding Comfort, Hope and Healing after Loss (Skylight Paths, 2015)
  • “Forgiving Suicide,” The Forgiveness Handbook: Spiritual Wisdom and Practice for the Journey to Feedom, Healing, and Peace, created by the editors at Skylight Paths (Woodstock, VT: Skylight Paths, 2015), pp. 90-94.
  • “Remembrances of my Grandfather,” God, Faith & Identity from the Ashes, Reflections of Children and Grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors, Menachem Rosensaft, editor (Jewish Lights Publishing, 2014)
  • “God Consciousness” and “Mindfully Alive: Ten Short Prayers,” Jewish Men Pray: Words of Yearning, Praise, Petition, Gratitude and Wonder from Traditional and Contemporary Sources, edited by Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky and Stuart M. Matlins (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2014), pp. 102-103.
  • Yizkor: Guided Meditations and Other Creative Approaches,” Machzor: Challenge and   Change, volume 2 (NY: Central Conference of American Rabbis, 2014)
  • Modeh Ani: Gratitude upon Awaking,” Harvard Matrix, Martin Cohen, editor. (2014)
  • “Anonymous Power: The Stranger in the Field,” On Sacred Ground: Jewish and Christian Clergy Reflect on Transformative Passages from the Five Books of Moses, edited by Jeff Bernhardt (NY: Blackbird Books, 2012), pp. 66-67.
  • Ve’zot Ha-Brachah: …And Ready to Start Again,” Text Messages: A Torah Commentary for Teens, edited by Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2012), pp. 272-273.
  • “Behaalotecha: Can Moses Teach Us How Not to Burn Out?” The Modern Men’s Torah Commentary: New Insights from Jewish Men on the 54 Weekly Torah Portions, edited by Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2009), pp. 208-213,
  • “Purim: God are You There?in Celebrating the Jewish Year: The Winter Holidays, by Paul Steinberg, edited by Janet Greenstein Potter (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2007), pp. 168-170.
  • “Are we a Halakhic Movement?” Proceedings of 2006 Rabbinical Assembly Convention.
  • “On the Use of Birth Surrogates;” “Mamzerut,Responsa: The Committee of Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative Movement (NY: The Rabbinical Assembly, 2002), pp. 529-550; 558-586.
  • “On the Use of Birth Surrogates,” Life and Death Responsibilities in Jewish Biomedical Ethics, edited by Aaron L. Mackler (NY: The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 2000), pp. 129-161.
  • “Why Bury?” Wrestling with the Angel, Rabbi Jack Riemer, editor, (NY: Schocken, 1995), pp. 124-125.
  • “The Jewish Tradition and Capital Punishment,” in Contemporary Jewish Ethics and Morality: A Reader, Elliot Dorff and Louis E. Newman, editors (NY: Oxford University Press, 1995) pp. 344-349.
  • Introductory essay to a short story in Labovitz, Eugene and Annette, A Sacred Trust, (Los Angeles: Nathan Publishing, 1995), p.395.
  • “The Jewish Tradition and Capital Punishment,” Crime, Punishment, and Deterrence: An American-Jewish Exploration, Gordis, David, ed., (Los Angeles: The Wilstein Institute, 1991), pp.49-55.
  • “Teshuvah and Art,” and “Bring Flowers, but Only if You are Faithful,” The World of the High Holy Days, Riemer, Jack, ed., (Miami, Florida: Bernie Books, 1991).

Journal Publications

  • “Entering the Holy of Holies: A Biblio-drama in Three Parts,” Sh’ma 44/702, September 2013, pp. 14-15.
  • “Children as Pariahs?: A Teshuvah on Mamzerut, Conservative Judaism, 53:2 (Summer, 2001), pp. 69-84.
  • “Sweet Gifts: A Jewish Response to Gilbert Meilaender (“Sweet Necessities: Food, Sex, and Saint Augustine”),” Journal of Religious Ethics 29:1 (Spring, 2001), pp. 19-23.
  • “Images of God in Judaism Today,” Jewish Spectator 65.3 (Winter, 2001), pp. 17-18.
  • “Pathways of Healing Through Rabbinic Counseling, Jewish Spectator 64:1 (Summer, 1999), pp. 19-22.
  • “Survival of the Soul,” Jewish Spectator 62.2 (Fall, 1997), pp. 27-29.
  • Book review of Danny Matt’s God and the Big Bang (Jewish Lights, 1996), Conservative Judaism 49.2 (Winter, 1997).
  • “Self-Forgiveness and Beyond as Holy Work,” Jewish Spectator 61:1 (Summer, 1996), 28-30.
  • “‘Through Her I Too Shall Bear a Child’: Birth Surrogates in Jewish Law.” Journal of Religious Ethics 24.1 (Spring 1996), 65-97.
  • “Reflections on Blessing,” Jewish Spectator 60.2 (Fall, 1995), pp. 22-23.
  • “Count Your Blessings,” Women’s League Outlook (Spring 1994), pp. 19-20.
  • Book review of Knowing God: Jewish Journeys to the Unknowable by Elliot Dorff, Jewish Spectator (Summer, 1994), pp. 54-55.
  • “Letters To (and From!) God,” cover essay in the Jewish Healing Center’s The Outstretched Arm (Winter 1992/93).
  • “On Letters to and from God,” Conservative Judaism, 45.1 (Fall, 1992), pp. 21-28.
  • “Living Torah Through Roleplay,” Jewish Spectator, 56.4 (Spring, 1992), pp. 39-43.
  • “Pointers for American Legislation on Computer Privacy: Insights from Jewish Law,” National Jewish Law Review, Vol. 2 (1987), pp.63-78.

Legal Responsa (Under the auspices of the Rabbinical Assembly Committee on Law and Standards):

  • “On the Use of Birth Surrogates” (1997);
  • Mamzerut” (2000);
  • “Computer Privacy in the Modern Workplace,” with Professor Elliot Dorff (2002);
  • “Musical Instruments and Recorded Music on Shabbat and Festivals,” with Professor Elliot Dorff and Rabbi Aaron Alexander (forthcoming).
  • Dissent: “Limited Electronics: Shabbat Usage of a Microwave for Heating Cooked Foods or Electronic Devices for Reading or Conversing” (2012)
  • “On the Use of E-Readers on Shabbat” with Rabbi Charles Simon (will present in 2015)

Book Reviews

God and the Big Bang, by Daniel Matt, Conservative Judaism, Winter 1997, p.90.
“God is Everything, in Drag” a review of Irwin Kula, with Linda Loewenthal, Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life, Hyperion, 2006. Sh’ma, September 2006, p.7.

Personal Achievements

Completion of the 1978 Boston Marathon
Completion of Daf Yomi (the daily study of the entire Talmud) in 2014