Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Rabbi known for speaking out on taboo issues dies at age 41
By Julie Wiener
NEW YORK, Oct. 4 (JTA) -- Rabbi Julie Spitzer, a leader in domestic violence prevention, rabbinic sexual misconduct, and gay and lesbian inclusion in Jewish life, died Sept. 30 of ovarian cancer.
Spitzer, who was 41, was regional director of the Reform movement in the New York area, the author of "When Love is Not Enough: Spousal Abuse in Rabbinic and Contemporary Judaism" and editor of a guide for congregations seeking to be more welcoming to gay and lesbians.
Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, described Spitzer as a "pioneer" in her work on domestic violence and sexual abuse by the clergy.
"These aren't issues that our community was by and large comfortable talking about," said Yoffie. "She worked in a quiet way behind the scenes, and it was her initiative that brought these concerns to our agenda."
Spitzer prepared the first manual on domestic violence ever written for Reform congregations and staffed a UAHC task force that developed a policy for how congregations should respond to charges of sexual abuse by members of the clergy, said Yoffie.
More recently, Spitzer developed a program to help congregations assess whether they are welcoming to newcomers.
"There was no artifice about Julie, there was no pomposity. She was who she was at all times," recalled Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor, a close friend of Spitzer's and the spiritual leader of the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue on Manhattan's Upper West Side. "She was really warm and wonderful to be with and yet was very solid."
"She spoke vigorously on a subject that made everyone uncomfortable," added Bretton-Granatoor. "She had a way of getting up and saying this is a problem and we need to deal with it as a community."
Spitzer is survived by her life partner, Abbe Tiger, her parents Iris and Robert Spitzer, and a sister, Susan Lazar. Funeral services were held at Congregation Ahavath Chesed in Jacksonville, Fla., on Oct. 4, and a memorial is scheduled to take place on Oct. 17 at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue.
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Florida Times-Union, Jacksonille, FL
SPITZER - Rabbi Julie Ringold Spitzer passed away on September 30 at age 41, after a valiant battle against ovarian cancer. Rabbi Spitzer was born in Jacksonville and graduated from Wolfson High, the University of Florida (Alpha Epsilon Phi), and received her Masters of Hebrew Letters and Masters of Jewish Education and Ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. Rabbi Spitzer lived in New York City and served as the Regional Director of the Greater New York Council of Reform Synagogues of the U.A.H.C. Rabbi Spitzer served on the Advisory Board of the Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence in Seattle. She was the beloved life partner of Abbe Tiger; the devoted and loving daughter of Iris and Robert Spitzer; and cherished sister of Susie Lazar (Jerry) of Cooper City, FL, and fun-loving aunt of Andi Lazar. Funeral services will be held Monday, October 4 at 1PM at Congregation Ahavath Chesed, 8727 San Jose Blvd, 32217. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Rabbi Julie Ringold Spitzer Memorial Fund of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, c/o Congregation Ahavath Chesed. Arrangements by Hardage-Giddens Funeral Home, 4415 Hendricks Avenue.
The Washington Blade, Washington, DC
Julie Ringold Spitzer, a rabbi who worked toward Gay integration in Jewish life, died Thursday, Sept. 30, 1999, following an 18-month battle with ovarian cancer, according to a Union of American Hebrew Congregations, Mid-Atlantic Council press release.
Spitzer, 41, was regional director of the UAHC Greater New York Council. Prior to that she had worked as regional director of the groupís Mid-Atlantic Council, headquartered in Baltimore. UAHC is an organization of reformed Jewish congregations.
According to Jan Bergman of the Mid-Atlantic Council, Spitzer was "a nationally recognized resource in the area of domestic violence prevention, leadership development, and Gay and Lesbian inclusion in Jewish life." Spitzer served on UAHC committees relating to Gay inclusion, social justice, and the prevention of violence and abuse. She was also the editor of Kulanu: A Program for Congregations Implementing Gay and Lesbian Inclusion, published by UAHC in 1996.
She is survived by her partner, Abbe Tiger, her parents, Iris and Robert Spitzer, and a sister, Susan Lazar. Funeral services were held at Congregation Ahavath Chesed in Jacksonville, Fla., on Oct. 4.
Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC)
Rabbi Julie Ringold Spitzer is the Director of the Greater New York Council of Reform Synagogues (GNYCRS), one of 14 regions of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations(UAHC). She has held this position since January of 1996. Creating community on the regional level by networking the congregations with one another and with the national movement is a high priority.
Rabbi Spitzer is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Florida, where she majored in Religion and minored in Women's Studies and Leadership Development. In addition to her 1985 rabbinic ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, she holds two masters degrees: one in Hebrew Letters, and the other in Jewish Education (from the Rhea Hirsch School of Jewish Education in Los Angeles). Her rabbinic thesis on domestic violence in the Jewish community has been published by the Women of Reform Judaism, and is now in its third edition.
Following ordination, Rabbi Spitzer served as Rabbi/Educator for Temple Emanu-El of West Essex in Livingston, NJ. From there she went to Baltimore, MD, serving as the Associate Rabbi for the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation. After seven years in the congregational rabbinate, she began working for the UAHC as Regional Director of the Mid-Atlantic Council in Washington, DC.
Rabbi Spitzer is nationally recognized as a resource in the area of domestic violence prevention and preaches, teaches and writes for both Jewish and interfaith audiences on the subject. She is on the National Advisory Board of the Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence, and serves on several of the Reform movement's committees and commissions in the area of social justice, gay and lesbian inclusion, and the prevention of violence and abuse. She is the recipient of several prizes for creativity, public speaking and academic excellence. And when she is not visiting congregations or sliding down the slopes, she resides in Manhattan where she enjoys a view of the East River.