Well versed MSU Hillel rabbi proves adept in field of law, music, sports and education

By Sheila Pursglove Legal News As the senior Jewish educator at Michigan State University Hillel in East Lansing, rabbi Dan Horwitz is an educator and spiritual counselor for students and for 10 other Michigan universities catered to by Hillel Campus Alliance of Michigan (H-CAM) including Alma College, Albion College, Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, Kalamazoo College, Michigan Technological University, Northern Michigan University, Saginaw Valley State University, and Western Michigan University. "It's a very special thing to be able to spend a couple of days each week working with college students," he says. "I get to swear when I teach without needing to worry about offending, and most importantly, I've found that the students open up to me and recognize I can be a trusted confidant as they sort through their own challenges and development into adults." Horwitz's website lists him as a rabbi, educator, consultant and community builder. Add to that roster: attorney, mediator, musician, and sports enthusiast. Horwitz holds dual degrees from the University of Michigan a master's degree in kinesiology/sports management and a juris doctor from the Law School, where he was a Dean's Scholarship recipient; chief justice, Michigan Central Student Judiciary; contributing editor, Michigan Journal of Race & Law; and education director, Jewish Law Students Association. "Growing up with parents who both worked in and on behalf of the Jewish community, I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a Jewish communal worker as well," he says. "When I looked at those running the major Jewish nonprofit organizations nationally, many had advanced law and business degrees, in addition to some holding advanced Jewish degrees. I was always much better with words than numbers and enjoyed the study of law both Jewish and secular so law school was a natural fit." Horwitz, who also has master's degrees in Jewish Studies from Gratz College in Melrose Park, Pa., and in Jewish education from Hebrew College in Newton Centre, Mass., earned his undergrad degree, cum laude, from Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. A member of the State Bar of Michigan, he is a Michigan SCAO approved mediator. "I'm generally in awe of how poorly we communicate with one another," he says. "Mediation speaks to me as a vehicle for helping to frame issues, so that our disagreements can be focused instead of all-encompassing." Ordained as a rabbi by the Mesifta Adath Wolkowisk, a rabbinical academy in Woodmere, N.Y., and a member of OHALAH: The Association of Rabbis for Jewish Renewal, and of the Michigan Board of Rabbis, Horwitz is currently the associate Rabbi for over 300 families at Congregation Shir Tikvah, a Reform/Renewal community in Troy. Before returning to Michigan this past June, Horwitz spent 2.5 years in Chicago and Washington, D.C. as the rabbi and director of Immersive Learning for Moishe House, heading the Jewish Education Department for the global leader in Jewish young adult engagement and education. The empowerment-centric model has young adults, in their 20s, living in group homes of 3 to 5 people, charged with hosting a half-dozen community-building programs each month open to the young Jewish adult population in their city, in addition to their full-time work or graduate studies. There are now over 70 such houses in 15 countries around the world. During a period as mid-western regional director for the organization, Horwitz managed group homes in Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Denver, Dallas, New Orleans, and Mexico City and cultivated donors throughout the USA. "What's beautiful about the model is that instead of organizations and institutions trying to figure out how to attract young adults to their programs, instead, the young adults are charged with creating their own programs and community, and are provided the resources and support to do so," he says. A native of West Bloomfield, Horwitz and his wife Miriam a certified freelance American Sign Language interpreter make their home in Huntington Woods, with their infant son Jonah. Horwitz's father Arthur is the owner and publisher of The Detroit Jewish News, and his mother, Gina, is a senior major gifts officer at Wayne State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Horwitz's brother Adam is a fourth year Ph.D. candidate in clinical psychology at U-M; and his sister Stephanie, a dual American-Israeli citizen and a U-M grad, serves in the Israeli army as a tank instructor. Fluent in Hebrew, Horwitz has traveled to Israel many times, including as a Taglit Birthright Israel staff member and trip leader; and spent five months studying at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. "There's something very special about communicating in one's second language with native speakers, with appreciating incredible food I'm a hummus enthusiast to put it mildly and with connecting to a land that for millennia my ancestors have turned their hearts towards while in prayer," he says. In 2013, Horwitz spent two weeks as the rabbi-in-residence for Kehillat Beijing, a progressive Jewish community in China. "It was fascinating having the chance to explore Chinese culture and also special and humbling to see Jewish families actively gathering together for community and prayer in a part of the world largely devoid of Jews," says Horwitz who enjoyed visiting the Great Wall of China. A violinist in the Detroit-based Klezmer band, "Klezundheit!," Horwitz enjoys baseball, basketball, bridge, guitar, salsa dancing, and cooking, and is a board member and Gratitude Team co-chair of NEXTGen Detroit, a program of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. Published: Thu, Jan 29, 2015