Rabbi Benjamin Zvi Kreitman was born in Warsaw, Poland on December 5th, 1920 and brought to the United States with his parents in 1924. He studied at Yeshiva University in New York and graduated in 1940, later becoming ordained as a Conservative Rabbi in 1942.
He served as a chaplin in the US Navy from 1943 to 1946, and then became a congregational Rabbi. He first served Kehillath Israel in Brookline, MA and then Beth El Synagogue in New London, CT. In 1952 he returned to New York and spent 16 years serving the Brooklyn Jewish Center. He served the Jewish community in Brooklyn and the wider community in New York and performed various roles supporting issues of human rights, community relations and small business development.
He also took leading roles in the Rabbinical Assembly and was Chairman of the Brooklyn region and Vice-Chairman of the Metropolitan Region. From 1966 to 172 he held the prestigious role of Chairman of the Rabbinical Assembly's Committee of Jewish Law and Standards. During his time on this committee he led the wave for significant modernization of approaches to halacha.
In 1976 he became the Executive Vice President of the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism, promising to promote a deeper feeling of movement and togetherness among Conservative Jews.
During his time at the United Synagogue he was instrumental in the development of the World Council of Conservative Synagogues (now known as Masorti Olami), changing it from an outreach project of the United Synagogue to an organization to represent and support all branches of Conservative/Masorti Judaism around the world. Rabbi Kreitman became Vice President of World Council of Synagogues, and ensured recognition for the World Council of Synagogues in the World Zionist Organization and led the early campaigns for religious tolerance and pluralism in Israel.
Rabbi Kreitman, his wife Joyce and their family visited Israel many times and was the founder and honorary President of American Friends of Neve Hanna, a group which supports the Neve Hanna youth village in southern Israel.
Rabbi Alan Silverstein, former President of Masorti Olami reflects on the passing of Rabbi Kreitman:
This week's Parshah details the deaths of Jacob the Patriarch as well as Joseph HaTzaddik; these deaths mark the end of an era in Jewish history. That is true as well with the passing of Rabbi Bejamin Z. Kreitman z'l. This moment marks the end of an era for The World Council of Conservative/Masorti Synagogues.
Rabbi Kreitman was our moral guide, our pillar of strength and of wisdom. He kept the World Council alive during its hard times and lived to see its growth and vitality as Masorti Olami, serving throughout Europe, Latin America, Australia, the FSU, Africa and beyond.
His remarkable eloquence, Torah knowledge, unsinkable optimism and clarity of vision sustained and nurtured Masorti Olami in ways that go far beyond words alone.
We will miss his loving presence, but we will continue to be inspired by the powerful memories of his irreplaceable impact upon countless souls.
May the memory of his praiseworthy life remain as a source of blessing to us all.
He will be sadly missed.