60 years of service: Religious teacher celebrates faith through the generations

LAFAYETTE HILL, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "The values that you're taught, I think, are what you carry on through your life," said Steve Horwits. "Being able to teach that to other people and then get them involved and see them do it later in life is the reward I know that I have."

Horwits, 77, has spent nearly his entire life at Congregation Or Ami, a Jewish community center and synagogue.

"I graduated from high school, found a job here at Or Ami in September 1961 as a substitute, which continued for the next 60 years," he said.

Horwits continues to live and exercise his faith every day through his teachings, which have included subject matters such as Israel, the Holocaust, and Hebrew learning skills. His current role involves teaching prayers to prepare children for their bar and bat mitzvahs.

"I never expected to learn so many prayers in such a short amount of time," said 11-year-old Dani Bard-Maizel. "Like, millions of prayers. That's what it feels like."

Students say Mr. Horwtis' calm and forgiving demeanor allows them to make mistakes and learn in a positive environment.

"I always say the teacher can make or break class," said 12-year-old Sam Couzens. "He makes it."

An entire six decades have allowed time for other students to grow up and become teachers that work alongside Mr. Horwits.

"He was always loving and caring and made everything fun for us," said Michelle Glantz, who studied beneath Mr. Horwits 35 years ago. Today, she works alongside him as the art teacher.

Despite the closeness of the Or Ami community, the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to conduct classes virtually. This morning was the first opportunity in several months that any students and teachers had the chance to interact face-to-face.

Still, Horwits' mission to promote Jewish traditions and values must go on.

"I think in my earlier days, Judaism was stronger," he said. "So, I think my role here is basically just to instill what I think is important."

Horwits hopes that generations of the future will remember what generations of the past have taught them. He also encourages families to extend Jewish traditions beyond the classroom and into the household.

"It's just a good feeling that I've been able to do something with all these different generations," he said.

To learn more about Congregation Or Ami, visit their website.

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