About Rabbi Zelizer
Rabbi Gerald L. Zelizer came to Congregation Neve Shalom, Metuchen, New Jersey in 1970. Under Rabbi Zelizer’s leadership Neve Shalom has merged with two congregations. Since Rabbi Zelizer arrived at Neve Shalom, his Adult Education classes, participatory services, and relationship to the youth have been commended for their excellence and received regional and national recognition. The USY chapter has received consistent awards for excellence and produced both regional and national presidents and officers. As a youth, from 1954-56 he served as International President of USY. From 1992 to 1994 Rabbi Zelizer served as President of the International Rabbinical Assembly. From 1994-1999 he served on the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, which formulates religious policy for the Conservative Movement. He is the only rabbi to have served in both presidencies. He is the only rabbi who has been President of the Rabbinic Assembly, and also president of International USY in his youth.
A fourth generation rabbi, born in Columbus, Ohio. After earning his B.A., Rabbi Zelizer was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 1964 where he also received a Masters in Hebrew Literature.
Rabbi Zelizer writes widely on the subjects of religion and popular American culture in various newspapers; including the Newark Star Ledger, USA TODAY, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune. His opinion pieces and essays have also appeared in major Jewish newspapers and journals; including The Forward, the Jewish Week of New York, Judaism, The Jewish Spectator, The Reconstructionist and Conservative Judaism. Rabbi Zelizer was appointed for five years as Professor of homiletics of the senior class at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He also taught Senior Homiletics at the Jewish Theologically Seminary for five years. Additionally, since 2000 he has been a member of the Ethics Committee of the RA.
In 1980, Rabbi Zelizer established the Jewish Family Service of Middlesex County. He was instrumental in establishing collaboration between the JCC of Middlesex County and Neve Shalom. He was a member of the New Jersey Committee for a moratorium on the death penalty, served on its Executive Committee, and interacted with the Governor and legislative leadership to achieve a moratorium in 2006. In 1999, he was appointed to the Coalition of Religious Leaders of New Jersey, which crafts public positions on social issues and dialogues with New Jersey’s Governor and Senators on matters of public policy. In 2006, the United Synagogue of New Jersey bestowed upon him the Keter Torah Leadership Award for distinguished rabbinic service.
Prior to his arrival in Metuchen, he served as Rabbi of Congregation Beth El in Buenos Aires, Argentina (1964-1966), and Temple Israel in Union, NJ (1966-1969). His wife Viviana, is Professor of Sociology at Princeton University, and their son Julian E. Zelizer, is Professor of American History and Public Policy at Princeton University, and also teaches history and public affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton.
Rabbi Zelizer retired as Rabbi Emeritus in 2015 after 45 years as rabbi of Congregation Neve Shalom.