Rabbi Avi S. Olitzky

Rabbi Avi S. Olitzky

Rabbi Avi S. Olitzky is a senior rabbi at Beth El Synagogue in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.


A second pandemic Passover tests our faith | Column

By: - April 1, 2021

We are in the midst of the Jewish community’s “first second” of the pandemic. Granted, we have been celebrating Shabbat week after week. Last year, however, Passover was the first major hurdle to overcome during the shutdown. And now we’ve reached Passover again. We have been in this bubble for so long that we sometimes […]


Evaluating the moral case for and against Keystone XL | Opinion

By: - February 16, 2021

The Keystone Pipeline has been a political buzz phrase for some time. This 10-year-old oil pipeline system runs from Alberta, Canada, all the way to Texas. The chief controversy around the system arose with the introduction of the final phase of development: Phase 4. The “KXL extension” of the system, as it is informally known, […]


How President-elect Joe Biden can bring peace to Israel, Palestine and the Middle East | Opinion

By: - January 5, 2021

As a rabbi, my political activism has always been based in principle, not a blind devotion to a particular political party. And while my activism spans many directions, Israel has a special place in my soul. I have worked with elected officials — from both parties — to ensure that Israel remains safe and secure […]


Transcendent gratitude brings together past, present and future

By: - November 20, 2020

In Judaism, the most common blessing of thanksgiving is known as the Shehechiyanu. We recite this 2,000 year old blessing at the start of Holy Days, upon eating a new fruit or donning a new a garment, dwelling in a new home — all moments of pure gratitude. In shorthand we refer to this blessing […]


Finding serenity in tears, in these pandemic times

By: - October 26, 2020

On several outdoor runs this past week, the brisk autumn air led my eyes to water uncontrollably. The tears were flowing so quickly that it must have looked like I was hysterically crying. I have been running a lot more lately in pursuit of a stress-dissolving outlet during this pandemic. Playing beer-league ice hockey previously […]


Why do we fast on Yom Kippur?

By: - September 24, 2020

Jews around the world are on the cusp of observing Yom Kippur — the Jewish Day of Atonement. This is the day that we “do right by God.” That is, we are meant to spend the rest of the year making amends and repairing relationships with others, but Yom Kippur is when we repair our […]


Sure, have your barbecue, but work for workers on this Labor Day, too

By: - September 3, 2020

Toward the end of the 19th century, the average American worker labored 12 hours per day, seven days per week— all to earn a basic living. I became acutely aware of this when I learned stories of Jews at the time who had to quit their job every week simply to observe the Sabbath, with […]


We’re all in the same boat: What a 1,500 year old parable can teach us about this moment

By: - August 7, 2020

A group of people were sitting in a boat. One person pulled out a hand-drill and proceeded to drill a hole beneath their seat. The fellow passengers screamed at the incredulous sight and asked, “What do you think you’re doing?!” The hole-driller dismissed the question and responded, “What do you care? Am I not drilling […]


Monuments and the different meanings of honoring and remembering

By: - July 21, 2020

When I was sixteen years old, I participated in a cross-country teen tour summer program organized by United Synagogue Youth. I have quite a vivid recollection of our visit to Stone Mountain Park in Georgia. The laser-light show projected onto the cliff-face horseback soldiers was remarkable, only to be outdone by the ice-cold Dippin’ Dots […]

Priest walks by pews with photos of congregation attached to them.

Living by the law

By: and - May 22, 2020

We have been friends and brothers for some time. Tragically, we came together after the shooting at Tree of Life – Or L’Simcha Congregation in Pittsburgh. We worked to bring community together. We worked to honor love and not hate. We worked to create and not destroy. We worked to build community, brotherhood and sisterhood, […]