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September 05, 2013 - Image 26

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-09-05

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

While in Poland, Dan Horwitz,
right, teaches during Shabbat
services. On guitar is Martin
Storrow, Moishe House's director
of leadership development.


Daniel Horwitz travels the globe to foster Jewish learning.

Robin Schwartz
Contributing Writer


t's safe to say he's racked up a few fre-
quent flier miles. As rabbi and direc-
tor of immersive learning with the
international group Moishe House, Daniel
Horwitz, 29, doesn't stay in one place (or
one time zone) for long.
The West Bloomfield native and son of IN
Publisher/Executive Editor Arthur Horwitz
and his wife, Gina, currently lives in the
Washington, D.C., area. But, his travel log
reads like this: January, Miami; February,
Los Angeles; March, San Francisco; April,
Warsaw, Poland; June, Philadelphia; and
the list goes on. In March, he also taught at
a leadership summit in Israel; in May, he
served as rabbi at a community-led syna-
gogue in Beijing, China.
Somewhere along the way, Horwitz
also found time to propose to his fiancee,
Miriam Ganz, a freelance sign language
interpreter he met at a Moishe House event.
Moishe House has 59 communal houses
in 13 countries. Each one, including a
now-closed house on East Ferry Street
in Detroit that operated from June 2011-
July 2013, is designed to serve as a hub of
Jewish activity for 20-somethings. Each
house hosts about six programs a month.
Moishe House is currently recruiting
residents to start a new Moishe House in
the suburbs or the city.
(The other local Moishe House — a
service-based site piloted by the Repair the
World organization — was opened south
of the old Tiger Stadium in October 2011.
It is now winding down in favor of a new

26 September 5 • 2013

Repair the World residential fellowship.)
"Every month, we're running a weekend
learning retreat at a Moishe House in a dif-
ferent U.S. or international city:' Horwitz
explained. "I design the educational cur-
riculum for each retreat, with input from
my team. I lead the majority of them and
oversee those I do not attend:'
The three-day retreats are open to about
30 Jewish young adults. Themes vary and
have focused on everything from leader-
ship development and repairing the world
to meditation and spirituality to "how to
do Shabbat" and other holidays. They're
designed to motivate, inspire and empow-
er participants to do things like lead their
own Shabbat and holiday celebrations. In
two years, there have been more than 450
participants, including a group in Detroit.
Grants and private donations have helped
expand the program.
"Immersive learning means learners are
physically placed in a context to 'immerse'
them in a learning experience Horwitz
said. "For example, at our 'how to do
Shabbat' retreats, we're not just studying
abstractly, we're studying while actually
celebrating Shabbat and putting into prac-
tice the skills being learned:'
Future retreats are planned for New
England, Dallas and Kiev; a weeklong
event will take place in Los Angeles in
"I've had the opportunity to work with
Dan on several of these retreats in content
planning, co-facilitating and recruiting:'
wrote Yoni Sarason, Midwest regional
director of the Chicago-based group
NEXT, a division of the Birthright Israel

Rabbi Dan Horwitz explains the meaning
of two challot during Shabbat in Poland.

Foundation. Birthright provides subsidized
educational Israel trips to Jewish young
adults. "The retreats allow Moishe House
to both provide knowledge to residents
and community members and position
those residents as leaders. Giving them the
tools to 'do-it-yourself' means more young
Jews who can build meaningful experi-
ences for themselves and their peers:'

Love Of Learning

Horwitz's own love of learning started
early as a student at Hillel Day School of
Metropolitan Detroit in Farmington Hills.
After graduating from West Bloomfield
High School, he earned a bachelor's degree
in politics from Brandeis University in
Waltham, Mass., and went on to earn
three master's degrees (in Jewish studies
from Philadelphia-based Gratz College,
sport management from the University

of Michigan, and Jewish education from
Boston-based Hebrew College) as well
as a law degree from the University of
He was ordained as a rabbi in June 2011
by Mesifta Adas Wolkowisk, a nonde-
nominational rabbinical academy based in
Woodmere, N.Y.
"I'm an outreach rabbi: Horwitz says.
"My goal has nothing to do with tradi-
tional mitzvah observance and everything
to do with helping people find the connec-
tion points to lead rich, Jewish lives."
The Moishe House retreats are one
connection point, according to Jordan
Fruchtman, chief program officer at the
group's Oakland, Calif., headquarters.
"We are training leaders who can then
go back to their communities and spread
exciting and relevant Jewish practices:'
Fruchtman said. "Dan consistently gets
positive comments on surveys about his
ability to create welcoming, pluralistic
environments for retreat-goers:'
Josh Kanter, 27, of Huntington Woods
is a community outreach associate for the
Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.
He was living in the Repair the World
Moishe House when he took part in a
Shabbat retreat last fall.
"It was a full Shabbat experience with
20 other young adults:' Kanter said. "We
went through how to host a Shabbat meal,
the prayers and what they mean, how to
prepare a dvar Torah (explanation of the
weekly Torah portion) and how to lead
a Havdalah service. The retreat gave me
some great tools to use personally and
Planning and developing content for
these retreats also has been a learning
experience for Horwitz. He recently wrote
an article in eJewishphilanthropy.com
about the insights he's gained.
"Young adults are interested in learn-
ing — but even more so, they're excited
about building relationships and commu-
nity:' he said. "Follow-up opportunities are
crucial. There has to be a vehicle in place
for people to put what they've learned into
Horwitz will continue to travel, and trips
back to Metro Detroit are on his itinerary.
He'll be home for the High Holidays and
will lead services at Michigan State Hillel
for the fourth straight year. In October, he
and Ganz will be married in upstate New
York. At some point, he says he'd like to
land back in the place he grew up.
"Detroit is home, and I'd love to be able
to settle in the Detroit area and raise a
family there he said.
No doubt, that makes his parents
smile. ❑

For more about Moishe House, go to
www.moishehouse.org . Dan Horwitz's
dvar Torah blog can be found at
RabbiDanH.blogspot.com .

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