About Rabbi Mitelman

thumb_mitelman_headshotI’ve always been fascinated by the way the mind works — and how and why it so often makes mistakes. Our minds are what construct our view of the world, which then affects how we act in it. And while sometimes those worldviews are accurate, often, they aren’t. So I simply devour books and articles that give us a more nuanced view of ourselves and our world.

In my rabbinate, my greatest joys come when I get to share ways we can see the world more accurately, in order to behave more justly. I am currently the Associate Rabbi at Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester, and have had a long background of integrating Jewish tradition with modern topics.

I was selected by Clal, the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, to be one of twenty “Rabbis Without Borders,” a national program that seeks to position rabbis as American religious leaders and spiritual innovators who contribute Jewish wisdom to the American spiritual landscape. And I was also chosen to be one of twelve rabbis in the initial group of the Balfour Brickner Fellowship, a joint program with Clal and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism that aims to integrate Jewish textual tradition with modern social and political issues. Before entering rabbinical school, I worked at Facing History and Ourselves, a national non-profit educational consulting organization that aims to teach the Holocaust as a lesson in human behavior, linking history to moral choices today.

I live in White Plains with my wife, Heather Stoltz, who is a fiber artist.

I’m always excited to discover new ways to connect Judaism to a closer look at human nature, and that’s what “Sinai and Synapses” is all about.

17 responses to “About Rabbi Mitelman

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  4. sally

    Thank you for you thoughts and dialogue. I was not raised Jewish, nor did I have any real spiritual upbringing. My Mother took me to the Episcopal Church, as she was brought up. This occurred until by father, an admitted agnostic and philosophy major who was a marine in the Korean War, stopped driving us. He told us as children, it was all about money, socialization, and the purpose of religion was to keep us from killing or stealing from each other. I have felt lost for so many years, and watched him pass very frightened and pained by the parkinson’s disease that stole his dignity and life. I so want to feel connected and helpful to my children and others. I chose the path of nursing for the last 27yrs, and currently work in the psychiatric field. I constantly question whether there is a God of my understanding, a greater being, a loving and forgiving force of nature. Life and death scare me, petrify me at times, but I do not share this in general. I am a thinker, my heart hurts when anyone or animal is in pain. It is hard to understand what is, or will be, my mind is often so overwhelmed, I feel panic. I want to choose a path of fellowship, understanding and hope. I am open to suggestion, and the words you write make more sense to me than anything before. I have often wanted to explore ideas, thoughts and visions of what is good, right and lends it self to peace for all, including my lost head and heart. What to do?

  5. I am delighted to post a link to your HuffPO article about Retributive and Restorative Justice on my new blog, http://www.fairnessworks.com.

    At my blog, we have a special fondness for restorative justice. My hope is that we might be able to expand the pool of trained RJ practitioners, and help those many local “intuitive” peacemakers see they are not alone. Others are aiming toward similar goals, and a supportive community is available to them.

    Your posting helped me take a deep breath, rethink, and pull back from my initial, visceral blood lust. Courage, my friend. Shalom.

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  15. Selene Cusping

    Saw your recent blog on religion and science in Huffington Post. Thank you! It reminded me of why I loved studying the Hebrew Bible at college: the focus on intellect, and understanding, reason and empathy. I have since become an atheist, but my appreciation of the bible is based on those years of Tulmudic study. I still love to read articles like your own.

    • Thank you, Selene, for your kind words! I’m very interested in your journey — I’d love to hear a little more. All good things!

      • Selene Cusping

        Well, for me, the reading of the Hebrew Bible in university (I went to York University in Toronto) was eye opening: the bible was not static under the Talmudic traditions. I love literature, and looking at how principles and themes were woven into the books, using pieces of text from different writers over different millennia, was also fascinating and highlighted the teachings. I have great resistance to the idea that humanity moves on, but the bible doesn’t, as happens when so many groups try to interpret the bible literally. Even as an atheist, I think a literal interpretation of the bible means that you miss so many of the valuable teachings that the bible has for us. The bible isn’t about god, or exclusively about god, it’s about humanity. That’s what the writers brought us: we are still humans, as we were then, and we struggle to learn and grow. But you can’t do that if the rules you try to live by never learn and grow as our knowledge does.

        I’m not a “God is Not Great” Christopher Hitchens type atheist, though I love his writing as well: I have seen too much that is good about religion and faith to wish it to be eradicated. But I have also heard it said, “The bible says so,” far too many times, to take rights away from others, or move people into a second-class status.

        That’s my fight with religion. With god, I have no fight: I just feel that the universe is indifferent, and there are no gods to shelter us. We must shelter each other, and inspire each other, and limit the harm we do each other. I searched for god for a long time (Hebrew Bible studies was just one direction), but I’m very comfortable with being an atheist: it was almost a relief to admit my lack of belief. I did, however, miss the idea of god in two ways: first, for gratitude. Who to thank for a good day? Second, to ask someone to look over the people I loved. So I gave myself permission to do both.

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