Prolific Author/Lecturer to Keynote Annual Banquet

Jewish Exponent 1995

Over the past 20 years, he's lectured to hundreds of Jewish communities throughout the country - synagogue groups from every stream of Judaism, Jewish federations, Jewish community centers and Jewish high school and college groups.

The Bronx-born  Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, 42, who now makes his home in Boulder, Colo., with his wife and four children, is the author of the 1991 bestseller Jewish Literacy: The Most Important Things to Know About the Jewish Religion, Its People and Its History.

Telushkin's latest work, Words That Hurt, Words That Heal: The Ethics of Speech, is scheduled to be released next spring.

"It spawned a Senate resolution declaring May 14, 1996, as `Speak No Evil Day,'" said Telushkin.

"Several months ago, I met with Sens. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., and Connie Mack, R-Fla., and members of their staffs of discuss the feasibility of establishing a `Speak No Evil Day' in the United States," the rabbi explained. "On July 17 of this year, Sen. Mack submitted, on behalf of himself and Sen. Lieberman, a resolution to the first session of the 104th Congress.

"I'm hoping people will write their senators to get this bipartisan Resolution 151 passed."

Telushkin's latest news is that one of his books, the 1991 novel, An Eye for an Eye, has been optioned for a movie.

"A Hollywood movie, not a TV movie," stressed the rabbi, "and the person interested in it [David E. Kelley] has produced two of TV's most popular dramas - `Chicago Hope' and `Picket Fences.'

"The novel focuses on an act of violence - a woman is murdered by her boyfriend - and two acts of vengeance: The defense lawyer slanders the dead girl and the father kills his daughter's killer. The plot sounds like it was lifted out of newspaper headlines of the day."

And indeed, Telushkin said, he closely followed the stories of three young women who were all stalked and killed by ex-boyfriends. An Eye for an Eye is dedicated to them.

When not lecturing. Telushkin is either writing or serving his congregation.

Once a month, he's on the pulpit of the Los Angeles Synagogue of the Performing Arts, which serves people in the entertainment industry.

One Yom Kippur, Telushkin recalled, "I broke the fast with actor Kirk Douglas."

The rabbi describes himself as "an extrovert person in an introverted profession."

"I'm a writer who enjoys lecturing," he said. "I've been lecturing since I've been in my early 20s. I like the contact with people. I like to see my audience, and lecturing gives me that opportunity.

"I guess the writing genes are in my background." Telushkin added.

"My grandfather, Nissen Telushkin, wrote four books in Hebrew - three on Torah and one on the laws of the mikveh. I was very close to him. He died when I was 21."

The writing talent in his family extends beyond Telushkin and his grandfather. His wife, Dvorah, served as translator and editor for the late Isaac Bashevis Singer for a dozen years. Her first book, The Master of Dreams, is due out next year.

The Accidental Star