fbpx Tribute to Howard Blitman | Page 3 | Reconstructing Judaism

Tribute to Howard Blitman

Article

Photo of Howard Blitman
Howard Blitman
Howard N. Blitman, a long-serving member of Reconstructing Judaism’s Board of Governors, was presented with the organization’s Presidential Recognition Award. The small, socially-distanced ceremony was held on Sept. 13 at Bet Am Shalom, a Reconstructionist congregation in White Plains, N.Y., where he has been a longtime member. Many more people tuned into the proceedings via video conference.

The honor is presented to an individual who has devoted his or her life to advancing Reconstructionist Judaism in both institution and practice — a person who has sown the seeds that nurture rabbinical training and movement leadership. This award honors an individual whose life’s work has been to advance Reconstructionist Judaism profoundly, making an inclusive, vibrant, open and thoughtful Jewish practice available to countless individuals, and thereby transforming the landscape of Judaism in our day.

As part of the presentation, Rabbi Lester Bronstein, spiritual leader of Bet Am Shalom, described Blitman’s ongoing contributions to the congregation. Speakers also included Seth Rosen, who chairs Reconstructing Judaism’s Board of Governors, and the organization’s president, Rabbi Deborah Waxman, Ph.D

“Your focus, Howard, if it’s not on your family, your focus is on the future. You are a true Reconstructionist, always looking forward, curious and confident,” Waxman told Blitman as she presented the award. “Howard, you have always built for the long haul, combining vision and creativity with good and careful planning. You have done that for your family, for the Bet Am Shalom community and for the Reconstructionist movement.”

 

Solomon Hoffman, a musician and a student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC), performed an original composition featuring the words of Psalm 118.

Even Ma’asu(Psalm 118:22) by Solomon Hoffman by Reconstructing Judaism

Blitman, a philanthropist and Reconstructionist movement leader, is a consulting engineer and the president of The Blitman Building Corporation (construction managers, builders and developers).

He was raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. His parents, Charles and Anna, were close friends with Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, and Rabbi Ira Eisenstein, Kaplan’s son-in-law, who later became the first president of RRC. As a teenager, Blitman studied with Kaplan, Eisenstein and with Judith Kaplan-Eisenstein (Kaplan’s daughter and Eisenstein’s wife), and credits each with shaping his understanding of Judaism.

Blitman earned a Bachelor of Civil Engineering degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in 1950 in Troy, N.Y., and a Master of Arts in political science and government from the Graduate Faculty of the New School of Social Research in New York City in 1976.

An officer in the Chemical Corp of the United States Army during World War II, he also studied at the Virginia Military Institute. During the Korean War, he was recalled to active duty and took charge of the construction of a chemical plant. He received Special Commendation from the Chief of the Chemical Corps.

After Korea, Blitman resumed his engineering career, joining The Blitman Construction Corporation. In 1970, he was elected president of the corporation, serving 11 years in that role. In 1981, he formed The Blitman Building Corporation.

Some of his most well-known projects included the Customs House of the World Trade Center and the Transportation Center of Journal Square in New Jersey. He also constructed numerous high-rise luxury apartment buildings, suburban housing developments and high-quality industrial projects on the East Coast.

Blitman has long been a leader in the Professional Engineering Society of the State of New York as well as very active in the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE).

He served as president of the New York Chapter/NYSSPE from 1974-75 and chairman of the Metropolitan Chapters Presidents Council. He was elected president of the New York State Society of Professional Engineers for 1978-79, and was later elected as the 2002-03 president of the National Society of Professional Engineers. He was also elected by his peers to Fellow Grade of the National Society of Professional Engineers in 2001. Blitman has been active in many committees for the National Society of Professional Engineers, particularly the education and scholarship committees, and the construction committee. He has also been elected to Fellow Grade of the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2005.

Blitman worked on panels and cases of the American Arbitration Association. He has lectured at the New School and the Practicing Law Institute, and written articles in trade and professional journals.

He served on the Board of Architectural Review for the Village of Scarsdale for five years and was chairman for three years. He was elected as trustee for the Village of Scarsdale for a period of four years and served as deputy mayor.

For more than 65 years, he has been a trustee, supporter and volunteer on behalf of RPI.

He was a trustee of Continuum Health Partners Inc./Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City and has served as one of the vice chairmen of the Board of Trustees. He is currently a trustee on the Board of Overseers of Beth Israel and also serves on the board of the Phillips Beth Israel School of Nursing. He is also a board member of the New School for Social Research.

For more than 50 years, Blitman has volunteered for the Jewish Child Care Agency of New York, once serving as chairman of its board of directors. For more than 25 years, he has been active with the UJA-Federation of New York, serving on many subcommittees. He currently sits on the Capital Project Review Committee and the Jewish Communal Network Commission.

He is married to Maureen and has three children, Barbara, Lee and Robin, and eight grandchildren.

 

Movement Activities
Assistant Director of Media and Development Communications, Reconstructing Judaism

Related Resources

News and Blogs

The Aviv Revolving Loan Fund Helps Synagogues and Havurot Spring Into Growth

The Aviv Revolving Loan Fund is one way that Reconstructing Judaism is marshaling its resources to strengthen affiliated communities and foster innovation.

News
News and Blogs

Reconstructing Judaism: Evolution in Action

Judaism as an “evolving civilization” has been a Reconstructionist catchphrase for decades. But as board chair Seth Rosen writes, a deeper understanding of evolutionary biology gives fresh insight on the path ahead.

News
News and Blogs

Israel Mission Trip, March 2018: A Travelogue

When we began our Israel journey together in Tel Aviv on March 7th, we were 25 people representing 11 Reconstructionist communities who travelled there on the promise to go places and meet people that even veteran Israel travelers hadn’t visited or met. And on that promise, the Reconstructing Judaism Israel Mission Trip delivered.

News
News and Blogs

How Judaism Elevates Modern Discourse: The Topic at the Table for Chesapeake Day of Learning

The 2018 Chesapeake Day of Learning addressed difficult conversations in progressive Jewish communities.

News
News and Blogs

Why Belong?

Why belong to the Jewish people? Why belong to a synagogue? Why belong to the Reconstructionist movement? These are some of the most important questions that I am asked and that I, along with all of us at Reconstructing Judaism, strive to answer powerfully and convincingly.

News
News and Blogs

Reconstructionist Movement Updates

Though we count time Jewishly, by any consideration the secular year 2018 is an exciting year for the Reconstructionist movement.

News
News and Blogs

About Our New Name

We’re changing our name to Reconstructing Judaism. Rabbi Deborah Waxman, president of Reconstructing Judaism, explains why.

News
News and Blogs

Movement Update from Rabbi Deborah Waxman

Reflections on the state of Reconstructionist Judaism as 2018 begins.

News
News and Blogs

Leadership Message - December 2017

Board chair Seth Rosen lays out his plans for the development of the Reconstructionist movement.

News
News and Blogs

New Camp's Goal: 'Making Intentional Artists and Good Human Beings'

At Camp Havaya Arts, opening this summer in Redlands, California, campers will be nurtured as they explore for themselves what it means to live a Jewish life through the prism of the arts.

News
News and Blogs

Explore the New Online Home of Reconstructionist Judaism

An overview of the new Jewishrecon.org website.

News
News and Blogs

An Unforgettable Shabbaton With Long-Lasting Impact

Report on Pacific Northwest Shabbaton in May 2017

News
News and Blogs

A New Name for Camp JRF

A new name is announced for Camp JRF.

News
News and Blogs

Remembering How To Listen: A Reconstructionist Trip to Israel

Jennifer Ferentz recently returned from the first-ever Reconstructionist Birthright trip to Israel. She reflects on her experiences. 

News
News and Blogs

Just For A Time Like This

On January 29, 2017, Reconstructionist rabbis and thinkers gathered for a day of learning and study on “Moving Forward in Changing Times.” The gathering offered a range of Jewish approaches to finding spiritual strength as an activist, how to have difficult conversations with those with opposing viewpoints and how to stay sane and grounded in what feels like an avalanche of political change. 

News