On this week’s episode of the Seekers of Meaning TV Show and Podcast, Rabbis Deborah Bodin Cohen and Kerry Olitzky discuss their forthcoming book, Heroes with Chutzpah, featuring biographical profiles of outstanding Jewish figures from history.
In Heroes with Chutzpah, readers will meet 101 Jewish changemakers from the recent past and present, who challenged the status quo in the arts, sciences, social justice, sports and politics. Each one-page biography is accompanied by an original digital portrait. This children’s book about Jewish heroes is inspiring and fun.
Heroes with Chutzpah captures the diversity of the global Jewish community, showcasing Jews of different racial backgrounds, gender and sexual identities, and religious orientations from secular to Orthodox. Instead of focusing exclusively on icons, we included an eclectic mix of both lesser-known and renowned personalities with engaging, inspiring, and meaningful stories that will resonate with children of all backgrounds.
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About the Guests
Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky
Deborah Bodin Cohen (Debbie) grew up in Columbia, MD, and graduated from the University of Michigan’s Honors English Program. After working in Washington, DC, at various public interest groups, Debbie studied at Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem and New York. She was ordained as a rabbi in 1997. She has served congregations in North Carolina, New Jersey and Maryland, both as a pulpit rabbi and educator. Since 2017, she has been rabbi of Beth Chai in Bethesda, MD. She is also an editor at Behrman House Publishing.
Debbie is author of nine picture books and a teen novel. Her books have received multiple honors, including a National Jewish Book Award and Sydney Taylor Honor designations. The Grinspoon Foundation’s PJ Library has featured several of Debbie’s books and has translated them into Russian and Spanish for the international market.
In her free time, Debbie enjoys creating artwork, traveling, spending time with her family and, of course, reading. Debbie lives in Rockville, MD, with her husband David, a journalist. They have three children, Arianna, Jesse and Ezra. A Collie named Indigo completes the family.
Rabbi Dr. Kerry M. Olitzky
Rabbi Dr. Kerry M. Olitzky is the former long time executive director of Big Tent Judaism (previously the Jewish Outreach Institute), a national independent organization dedicated to bringing Judaism to interfaith families and the unaffiliated. He served as visiting professor at the Abraham Geiger Kolleg/University of Pottsdam in Germany and
has been a Fellow at the City University Graduate Center (NY) in its Jewish Studies Program. He has been named as one of the 50 Leading Rabbis in North America by Newsweek. 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 Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion where he served on the faculty and administration for 15 years following his tenure as rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford, CT. 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.
He is the author of over 75 books and hundreds of articles in a variety of fields. He is known for books that bring the insights of Jewish wisdom into everyday living. His opinion pieces are published in leading publications throughout North America and in Israel. Most of his recent publications are children’s picture books, as well as the early reader The Adventures of Leila and Ilana (White Bird Publications).