Posted on Dec 17, 2019
Director of Jewish Engagement & Adult Programs, St. Louis Jewish Community Center; Co-Founder and Co-Director of Songleader Bootcamp
The Rabbinical School ’00, The William Davidson School ’00, Day School Leadership Training Institute ’01
“I keep the J in the JCC,” says Rabbi Brad Horwitz, director of Jewish Engagement and Adult Programs at the St. Louis Jewish Community Center (the J). With over 12,000 members and one million touch points per year, Horwitz jokes that he has the largest “congregation” in the city.
Like many communities, the J struggles to engage families on the periphery of Jewish life. While most JCCs target children, Horwitz also focuses on parents so that they can discover Jewish meaning and bring it home. How does he attract busy adults in their 30s and 40s? He creates intimate gatherings of 10 to 15 people at hip venues and nurtures meaningful connections between them. Dubbed “the Jewish Arts & Soul Project,” it combines Jewish learning with arts activities such as Israeli wine tasting, glass mezuzah making, a bike tour of historic St. Louis synagogues, and more.
Horwitz is proud of the community that has emerged from this program. Though their motivation for joining is not religious, members find a Jewish home in the JCC, and for many, it is their only expression of Jewish identity. Explains Horwitz, “At the J, we create many different connection points so that people find an organic way to plug into the Jewish community that is authentic and lasting.”