Robert Kravitz joined the Society of Professional Journalists when he was a college student at Syracuse University in 1968. He’s been writing for the City Sun Times since its inception in 2002. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg on the gentleman who introduced himself as “Bob.” Come to find out, Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz has one of the most interesting backgrounds I’ve come across.
Rabbi Bob, time to share:
My transition from journalist to rabbi was earlier than just the Newhouse School at Syracuse to Hebrew Union College- Cincinnati (HUC). The first challenge was to move from S.U. Liberal Arts into what was then called the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA). Having been bored by philosophy, history and English classes, I took an elective in the history of broadcasting, and loved it. Then I started working in promotion and public affairs at the campus station WAER-FM. Within a short time I was hosting a weekly call-in show, and produced the first hard-copy of the station's program guide. It was a quick move into broadcasting at WAER where we, the students, ran the station - news, engineering, production, public affairs, the entire gamut. When it became time for graduate school, I applied to Seminary at HUC and was surprised to be accepted. Off to Cincinnati, 4-1/2 years more of classes. In the middle of year three a posting for a full-time replacement rabbi appeared. That rabbi was going on sabbatical, so I filled in at Temple Sinai, Milwaukee for seven-months. Back to HUC to finish my Masters thesis and to receive Ordination. Public speaking, "writing for the ear," was my training in live radio and that certainly helped from the pulpit and in my many civic involvements.
Never one to be afraid of a camera or mic, I did hundreds of interviews and even produced a TV show in Syracuse for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). There are scores of articles I've written for local newspapers. During the Iranian hostage situation, churches rang their bells every week at noon. Not one to be left out, we sounded the Shofar from the synagogue steps at precisely the same time, great video.
Everywhere I’ve served, I’ve been involved in inter-group and inter-religious activities. Community relations has been my forte. When the opportunity in Phoenix opened, we relocated and began a new journey without a congregation. For nearly 20 years I worked in that realm -- human relations commission chairman, community spokesperson on a variety of issues, leadership development, etc. When the scud missiles were hitting Israel a while back, a local TV station parked a mobile unit in our driveway and we did "cut-ins" with my analysis every few minutes.
I have always wanted to "give back" to our community. When the opportunity to become a Police Chaplain arrived, I was ready. Hundreds of hours of training along the way and I have earned the designation of "Master Chaplain" from the International Conference of Police Chaplains. I began with City of Phoenix Police Department; took a second badge with Arizona Department of Public Safety when the Phoenix Chief moved there, and after 20 years retired my Phoenix badge four years ago. When we moved to Scottsdale, I made a new connection and accepted my third badge. I've worked with AZ DPS for 19 years, and have held the Scottsdale Police Department badge for nearly 15 years.
For the past 10 years I have worked part-time for Jewish Family & Children's Service coordinating their hospital chaplaincy program, bringing trained chaplain/rabbis into 22 metro area hospitals. And I still conduct High Holy Days worship services in Scottsdale, officiate weddings and baby namings, and assist families with their end-of-life needs. Since its inception, I have been a regular columnist for what is now titled City Sun Times. Recently, I was elected president of the Board of Rabbis of Greater Phoenix.