Rabbi Jesse Olitzky

Jacksonville Jewish Center | Jacksonville, Florida | 29 years old
Conservative | Jewish Theological Seminary

I moved to Jacksonville, Fla., almost two years ago with my fiancée (now my wife). We were in the midst of planning our wedding in Jacksonville and had yet to find a rabbi to marry us. All of the synagogues in Jacksonville required us to become members in order to perform our ceremony. Since we had just moved to town and I was in a temporary position, we didn’t have the money to join a synagogue. Thus we were left without options and felt excluded by the Jewish community in Jacksonville. Rabbi Jesse Olitzky was different. Instead of abiding by his synagogue’s rules and saying no, he fought to change the rules so young Jewish couples (like my wife and I) wouldn’t be left out in the future. In the end, Rabbi Olitzky was able to stand with us under the chuppah after all and perform our ceremony (and did an excellent job). Rabbi Olitzky welcomed us to Jacksonville’s Jewish community in a way no one else was willing to.

— Marc Berkovits and five others

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