April 14, 2024
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April 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Remembering R’ Dr. Henry Horwitz

Our friendship with Henry and Frieda is now more than 50 years old. It is now over 50 years that Henry and Frieda, and my wife Shellee and I, would spend time together in whatever city we happened to be at the same time, whether Boston, New York or Yerushalayim. Usually we would begin with dinner at our or their home at about 8:00 p.m., and would finally end the evening somewhere between midnight and 2:00 a.m. We never ran out of things to share and talk about, nor did it matter how much time had passed between meetings—our mutual feelings of love and friendship transcended time.

In recent years much of our time over the phone was occupied by talking about health. But that was never the deepest source of pain in Henry’s life. The real source of his pain was the same as that of the Navi Michah, who in chapter 7, sentence 2 proclaims, “Avad chassid min ha’aretz, veyashar be’adam ayin, The righteous person is perished out of the earth, and the upright among people is no more.” Henry lived with a sense of total incomprehension as to how a fellow Jew, a believer in Hashem and an observer of mitzvot, and a student of Torah could possibly engage intentionally in unethical conduct.

I don’t remember how many times Henry told me with pride in modelship, the story of Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, zt”l going to the office of Income Tax Collection in Jerusalem at the point at which he became obligated to pay taxes, to make sure that he was properly fulfilling that civic responsibility—to the utter incomprehension of the pakid (officer) before whom he appeared. Henry himself came by that insistence on ethical propriety by yerusha (inheritance) from his parents, Clarence and Irma Horwitz, whom our children had the zechut (merit) to grow up knowing as Aunt Irma and Uncle Clarence. They, zichronam livracha, were extraordinary models of chesed and emet (truth) in all that they did.

Henry refined and applied that sensibility to every aspect of his life. He could tolerate mistakes and could even tolerate some degree of ignorance, but he could not accept the intentional violation of ethical standards in interpersonal relationships, nor would he abide by our community closing its eyes to such offenses. From his leadership role in Yavneh on College Campuses in the U.S., to his leadership role with the OU in Israel, and in all of the companies in which he worked, he taught and modeled chesed and emet and yosher (uprightness).

Frieda and Henry were full partners in shaping their home into a model of chesed and yosher through their hachnasat orchim (welcoming guests) and reaching out to help people. Even in the midst of Covid, as Frieda continued her chesed, and Henry argued that she needed to be more careful about going out and about in circumstances of substantial risk to her own health, he simultaneously took great pride in her devotion to gemilut chasadim.

Henry took great pride in their children and in their in-law children. His love of every one of them, and especially of the grandchildren, was a source of enormous happiness for him. The limitations on contact with friends and family during Covid were difficult for him. Over these past few years he spoke often with a sense of yearning about being able in the future to spend more time learning Torah with his grandchildren.

He leaves a clear and powerful yerusha to his family, his friends and to all who knew him. Yehei Zichro Baruch.


Rabbi Saul J. Berman is the longtime and beloved professor of Jewish Studies at Stern College of Yeshiva University. He also serves as Adjunct Professor and Rotter Fellow of Talmudic Law, Columbia University Law School.

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