Rabbi Breitowitz

The Rabbi Emeritus of Woodside Synagogue is Rav Yitzchak Breitowitz. Rav Breitowitz was born in New York, and grew up in the Greater Hartford, Connecticut area. He received his bachelor of arts from Johns Hopkins University and obtained semicha from Ner Israel Rabbinical College, where his fellow students and teachers recognized in him unusual creativity and brilliance, as well as a unique ability to grasp complicated material and communicate it clearly to others. After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, he worked in private practice in Chicago, served as law clerk for the Honorable Susan Getzendanner of the U.S. District Court, and taught at the University of Illinois. He met and married Sally Naiman, and returned to Baltimore in 1983, to join the faculty of the University of Maryland School of Law, where he was a professor, specializing in bankruptcy and commercial law.

Sally Naiman Breitowitz grew up in Chicago where she received a bachelor of arts in psychology from Roosevelt University. Working for almost 10 years at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, she was involved in the diagnosis and evaluation of patients with a wide range of physical infirmities, neurological dysfunction and emotional problems. She also administered the pediatric neuro-psychological testing unit. In Chicago and subsequently in Baltimore and Washington, she has participated in private practice assessments of children and adults.

In addition to pastoral counseling and helping individuals with personal problems, Sally gave unstintingly of herself in welcoming and assisting new members of our shul. She provided instruction in taharat mishpacha and shalom bayit, and has authored a much-needed and informative pamphlet entitled “Questions Women Ask About Mikvah.” At shabbatons she has conducted “Ask the Rebbetzin” discussions for women. Sally received the Eshet Chayil Award for Distinguished Service from the Hebrew Academy, where she has addressed the high school girls on life-cycle and other issues.

Rav Breitowitz’s scope and pace of activity are legendary. In addition to leading our daily daf yomi class, he gave several regular weekly classes in Woodside. His women’s shiur on Sunday morning attracted students throughout metropolitan Washington. A born pedagogue, he lectured regularly to the larger Washington community at the Board of Jewish Education,the JCC, the UJA-Federation and countless other venues. He has also taught at the Girls’ Division of the Yeshiva High School. He is much in demand as a lecturer nationally, bringing his unique depth and breadth of scholarship to bear on a wide range of subjects, especially medical, business, professional and family ethics, and the interrelationship of halacha and the secular legal system. His lectures have brought great honor to Woodside.

He has published widely on Jewish law and ethics. Among his articles are those on the right to die, physician assisted suicide, brain death, the status of frozen embryos, the desecration of ancient burial sites through archaeological excavations, business ethics, shalom bayit and spousal abuse. His major work, Between Religious and Secular Law: The Plight of the Agunah (Greenwood Press,1993) is a comprehensive and far-reaching study of one of the most complex issues of Jewish family law. As Educational Consultant to the Atlantic Seaboard Region of National Council of Synagogue Youth (NCSY), he compiled several sourcebooks on a variety of topics. We were enormously proud of the recognition he achieved for his religious and secular scholarship, nationally and internationally. Within a general culture that questions the role of religion in modern life, Rabbi Breitowitz has the exceptional ability to show the relevance of halachic categories and Jewish values in dealing with contemporary problems ranging from cloning to giving up land for peace.

Rav Breitowitz was a particular source of inspiration to young people in Woodside and the community at large, who appreciated his outstanding intellectual gifts and sincere piety, and responded to his openness, sensitivity and kindness. He embodies the characteristics listed by the Rambam as essential to a spiritual leader: “wisdom, modesty and reverence, indifference to money, love of truth, love of and by his fellow beings, and good reputation” (Hilchot Sanhedrin 2:7).

After 22 years of inspired leadership, the Breitowitzes fulfilled a lifelong dream by making Aliyah, where Rav Breitowitz continues to give shiurim and classes, building upon his reputation for scholarship and devotion to Jews of all factions. As the shul’s Rabbi Emeritus, he maintains a close relationship with the Woodside community and with former Woodside congregants now living in Israel.

Rabbi Breitowitz’s email address is: judge5@aol.com