David Spitz

David Spitz

My childhood home was in an apartment high rise off of the Grand Concourse in the Bronx. As a child, I was an active participant in Tremont Temple, a Reform congregation across the street from this home. Among my fondest childhood memories were Temple activities, and the holiday celebrations at home.

Money was scarce, I lived with my parents as I attended the Bronx High School of Science, obtained my Bachelor’s Degree from the City College of New York(1960), and my Master’s degree and ordination from the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (NY 1965). I supported myself during those four years of college and five years of Rabbinical School by teaching and youth directing at Tremont Temple and Sinai Temple of Mount Vernon, and by my summers directing the arts and crafts program at the URJ Camp Harlam. I was especially proud to be among the faculty pioneer / visionaries who engineered Reform Jewish camping. The last three years of Rabbinic School I served as rabbi to student pulpits located in Newark Delaware and Sayre Woods South New Jersey.

Upon ordination in 1965, I went on to serve as a US Army Chaplain at Fort Riley, Kansas, and at Ouijongbu, Korea.

Having fulfilled my military obligation, I served as Assistant Rabbi / Educational Director at Temple Beth Hillel, North Hollywood California and afterwards as rabbi of Temple Beth-El, Hammond / Munster Indiana. Upward mobility became difficult after that, especially since I was still a bachelor. I accepted a position as rabbi to the Young Peoples Congregation of Temple on the Heights, (a Conservative congregation) in Cleveland, Ohio, and afterwards moved on to Temple Emanu-El of Rochester, New York. It was there in Rochester that my career trajectory was to change its direction. I was elected president of our local ministerial association; it was the bicentennial year (1975-1976), so one of my duties was inviting speakers to talk about America’s rich religious heritage. This put me in touch with the Colgate Rochester Divinity School, and in short order I enrolled in their program leading to a Doctor of Ministry in pastoral counseling. When my Rochester congregation did not renew my contract, I found a new career as a chaplain with three of the VAs in Chicago. This provided me with the job security I needed. I remained a chaplain with the VAs for 26 years, until my retirement in 2003.

My academic credentials consist of a Master of Arts (1965) and an honorary Doctor of Divinity (1990) both from HUC-JIR, and a Doctor of Ministry degree in Family Counseling (1980) from Colgate Rochester Divinity School, and Board Certification as a clinical chaplain.
Together with my wife Susan, I raised three lovely children, who in turn produced five grandchildren, and their production of grandchildren is not over yet.

In Chicago, I served on numerous hospital committees, including the ethics committee which I chaired, and served as president of the Chicago chapter of the Military Chaplains’ Association. I am currently a vice-commander of the North Shore Post 29 of the Jewish War Veterans. In 1978 I became the first rabbi of Or Shalom of Vernon Hills, a position I held for the congregation’s four formative years After that, I served as the rabbi of B’nai Chai, a havurah, for over thirty years (until Dec 2012). After retiring from the VA, I served as rabbi of Temple Menorah, Chicago for eight years until it closed its doors in 2011. I am currently fully retired with a winter home in Coconut Creek Florida.