May 20, 2024
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Have You Heard the Podcast ‘Jews You Should Know’?

Rabbi Ari Koretzky wears many hats. One hat is as executive director of MEOR Maryland. MEOR Maryland started about 18 years ago when Koretzky partnered with a few others to help launch a small Jewish education and outreach program at University of Maryland, College Park. This small Jewish education and outreach program eventually grew into the premier organization that it is today part of a national network offering an entire range of programs, classes, trips and more. His other hats include being a campus rabbi, curious Jew and a podcaster. Each role reflects his passion for Judaism and allows him to have different avenues of impact on diverse Jewish communities.

Rabbi Koretzky’s journey to becoming a podcaster is the fulfillment of a very meaningful dream, one that has become a central part of his life. Now the creator and host of the podcast “Jews You Should Know” (JYSK), he is able to introduce the broader community to interesting and inspiring Jewish men and women, each with a story or accomplishment, each making a difference in our world. Some are already famous, some not yet so. But each is a Jew You Should Know.

“My goal is to bring inspiration to listeners,” Rabbi Koretsky said. “It is not a ‘gotcha’ type program; it is positive and aspirational in tenor. I try to really highlight the guests and make myself a conduit for their stories. I bring on a diverse range of guests in terms of their Jewish profiles, but my hard rule is that they must be proudly Jewish and their core engagements must be a credit to the Jewish community.”

JYSK is a podcast where you can meet inspiring personalities in every industry, from diverse backgrounds, making a difference in our world today. The JYSK podcast can be accessed on virtually any podcast app including iTunes/Apple Podcast, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Google Play and more. JYSK can also be streamed.

When asked to speak about some of his favorite or most interesting interviews, Rabbi Koretzky said: “So many episodes to choose from! Hard to pick specifics. What comes to mind in particular was my trip to Israel where I interviewed many people live (a rarity) on site. I interviewed Doron Almog, an Israeli military hero turned pioneer and champion for children with special needs (chairing Aleh Negev). I sat in his home and learned about him being the first soldier to land at Entebbe in the rescue raid and his evolving approach towards those with special needs. On that same trip, I got to sit with Kalman Samuels, founder of Shalva, now a massive, state-of-the art, world-class facility for those with special needs.”

The podcast “Jews You Should Know” was launched around four-and-a-half years ago. It has inspired and continues to inspire many people. Episode 100 contains a bit about the “origin story.”

“I was used to bringing in incredible guest speakers to address my students and felt like these kinds of people and others deserved to be heard by a much wider audience. This was just at the advent of the popularization/mainstreaming of podcasting (in the wake of ‘Serial’) and this felt like a natural outlet for this,” Rabbi Koretzky noted. “I thought this would be an amazing ‘excuse’ to meet and speak with exceptional Jews in our world.”

And yet, Rabbi Koretzky’s podcast JYSK almost never happened. The idea first came to him while walking down a street in Far Rockaway, New York, where his wife Malka is from and her family still lives. He knew that he could expose 30, 40, 60 students to inspiring guest speakers and personalities he brought to his campus, but how to make his dream of doing a podcast become a reality became his challenge. Talking to people, no one jumped on the idea. And Rabbi Koretzky also worried that the subjects that he would like to speak with would not be willing to speak with him.

On the verge of giving up, he received a gentle push, along with invaluable production assistance, from Jacob Rupp of the “Lift Your Legacy” podcast. Rupp’s podcast is the show for people looking for inspiration in the areas of mental and emotional wellbeing, Judaism, family relationships, business and health. Rabbi Koretzky learned that he had initially given up too quickly, so he scrambled to buy equipment, improve his interviewing skills and learn the technical aspects of podcasting. Now, through JYSK, he is able to extend his reach of engagement with Jewish communities.

Rabbi Koretzky was raised in Baltimore and attended a Jewish community day school, Beth Tfiloh. He spent several years in Israel studying and then returned to Baltimore to attend rabbinical school. He earned a master’s degree in creative nonfiction writing from Johns Hopkins.

He hopes to make JYSK a part of your listening routine. He has so far interviewed 175 guests. A full list of guests can be seen on the website www.JewsYouShouldKnow.com and Rabbi Koretzky is also available for speaking engagements.


Susan R. Eisenstein is a longtime Jewish educator, passionate about creating special, innovative activities for her students. She is also passionate about writing about Jewish topics and about Israel. Susan has two master’s degrees and a doctorate in education from Columbia University.

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