"Educator Hurwitz to be honored"
The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle
Written by Ruth Eglash
What began as a hobby and an escape from everyday life has brought
Dr. Larry Hurwitz into the forefront of the Jewish educational world. For the
past 10 years, Hurwitz has dedicated his life and invested most of his life's
saving into teaching Torah and Judaism.
Hurwitz will be honored February 6 as Educator of the Year by the
Coalition for Jewish Learning, the education program of the Milwaukee Jewish
Federation. "It is the most a teacher in Milwaukee can do," said Hurwitz with
pride of his honor. "If you look at educators who have received this award in
the past, it is wonderful to be considered part of that group."
However, Hurwitz feels he is being honored more for his writing than
for his work as a teacher. For nearly two decades, he has been recording what
he calls "his conversations with God." In his extensive writing, which he has
named Torah La-Am -- "Torah for the People" -- Hurwitz has analyzed Midrashic
literature. In this way he strives to give talmudic commentators a contemporary
voice and make their work accessible to everyone.
His greatest achievement, he said, "is to give children and adults
an interest and love for Torah. It is to make them realize that Torah is not
just an ancient manuscript in which only old scholars are interested, it has a
modern voice too. Torah is a mirror where we can study ourselves." Hurwitz says
this work is his "calling" and compares his life to that of the Biblical
character Noah. "God told him to build an ark of words, not wood, to save him
from a terrible devastation."
For Hurwitz, the devastation was his profession as an oncologist,
which, he said became too much for him. "Everyday I was signing death
certificates, staring at death. My writing was the only way for me to stay sane
and keep in touch with something meaningful." However, his work in the medical
field was not all a waste, because it may have given him the tools to express
what he feels today. And, he uses his previous experiences and his knowledge of
Judaic texts to teach medical ethics. Hurwitz cites Jewish sources as a
guideline for medical issues.
Besides writing educational material, he teaches Judaica at the
Milwaukee Jewish Day School and gives adult education classes at Congregation
Emanu-El B'ne Jeshurun. He is also well-known as a story teller and Torah
scholar. But perhaps his most commendable and innovative work is his project to
put Torah La-Am online. He set up Torah Productions, Inc., to undertake this
Hurwitz calls his web site "literary techno-art." Together with his
son Aryeh, he is in the process of upgrading the site. Eventually it will be an
interactive forum where Jewish educators and students can download, edit and
re-work Hurwitz's published writing. Visitors to the site will also be able to
enter chat rooms to discuss Hurwitz's insights and theories.