Despite Everything


Mark Samuel Hurvitz

I was born in Springfield, MA but grew up in Los Angeles, CA. I have had an extremely varied involvement in Jewish life. I attended a Workman's Circle Sunday School for a couple of years but became a Bar Mitzvah and was confirmed at a Conservative synagogue. As a teenager I was involved in AZA, Habonim and Young Judaea. Through that last group I had the opportunity to travel to and study in Israel for a year following high school graduation in 1964.

After returning from Israel, I received a Bachelor of Arts degree in music, with a focus on the recorder, from California State College at Los Angeles in 1972. My composition "February, 1969" [February 1969 (performance version of May 22-23, 1969): Ten refrigerators that cycle at least twice an hour are plugged in and arranged around a pedestrian pathway in two facing semicircles of five each with the uncovered motors facing the center. Within the semicircles, the refrigerators must be nearly touching each other.] was performed at the Cal State LA Environmental Events Fine Arts Festival and my composition "ShRQ" for unaccompanied alto recorder was published in "Tree" magazine, a journal devoted to Jewish mysticism. During the early 1970's I played recorder with "The Fairfax Five" a group of young Jewish activists who performed at various street fairs in the Jewish community. In addition to these, my brother and I had a weekly radio program on listener supported Pacifica radio station KPFK called “Catching Up”. During one of these evenings we performed (with the listening audience) my composition December 1968.

During that period I became a מדריך in Hashomer Hatzair, and after the June 1967 war in Israel, I became involved in the Jewish student movement of the period. My greatest involvement was my participation in the Jewish Radical Community which held weekly Shabbat celebrations and which attempted to raise the consciousness of the Jews of Los Angeles regarding such issues as the Vietnam War and the farm workers' strike as well as Jewish education and the crucial role of the Palestinian people in a peace settlement for Israel. I was hired as part of the experimental ombudsman staff of the Youth Department of the Jewish Federation-Council of Greater Los Angeles to help develop better relations between Jewish youth and the "establishment." In that capacity I edited the first "Guide to Jewish Los Angeles". On the editorial board at its inception (1970), I became the second editor of DAVKA, a magazine published by and for Jewish youth in the Los Angeles area. I served in that capacity until completing my BA in 1973.

I entered Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1973 and was in Israel on the first year of the rabbinic program during the Yom Kippur War. After studying for two years in Los Angeles, I was ordained from the Cincinnati campus in June of 1978. My rabbinic thesis dealt with a study of early Hebrew printing as depicted in the responsa, codes and the earliest haskamot (rabbinic approbations).

For two years I worked with the Leadership Development Division of the UJA-Federation Campaign of New York where I served both as a Staff Associate in charge of educational and community action programming and as Director. From 1980 through 1982, I was a rabbi at Temple B'nai Abraham of Livingston, New Jersey. I was the Assistant Director of SHAMOR of the National Jewish Resource Center (now CLAL), responsible for developing and presenting courses on Jewish values for UJA-Federation leadership and Executive Director of CHEVRA, a national group of Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist and Reform rabbis and academics studying together to work toward a common agendum. I was also the rabbinic facilitator of Chavurah Beth Chai of Mahopac, New York.

I was the rabbi of the New York Society for the Deaf and the Hebrew Association for the Deaf. In that capacity I lead services in American Sign Language and organized a youth, as well as a young adults group, to reach out to the many young deaf Jews who have no contact with the Deaf Jewish Community. I also founded and was the editor of "Zeroa Netuyah" a national newsletter (now defunct) for professionals dealing with issues of being Jewish and deaf.

Before moving to the San Diego area in 1988, I was the rabbi of B'nai Keshet, the Montclair Jewish Center, a Reconstructionist congregation in suburban New Jersey.

I am interested in a wide variety of subjects. I have a Masters degree in Library Science from Rutgers University in New Jersey. Particularly interested in the uniqueness of contemporary American Jewish life, I also pursued advanced studies in Contemporary American Jewish popular culture. I have published a number of articles dealing with various aspects of our community and collect artifacts and ephemera that depict the values and the acceptance of Jewish life in America. My collection of Judaic lapel buttons (approximately 3,000 unique items) has been displayed in synagogues, Jewish Community Centers and Libraries around the country, and selections of it have been on display at the HUC Skirball Museum in Los Angeles and in an exhibit on Jewish Humor at the Spertus Museum in Chicago. I periodically write about the buttons on my blog. I am curious about how electronic social media affect Jewish life and help coordinate an annual pre-Shavuot Torah study day on Twitter (using Facebook as an organizing tool): "Tweet #Torah to the Top".

Though I do not live nearby, I am "rabbi for life" of Congregation Etz Chaim of Ramona. I work as Vice President for Communications of Nisus Software Inc. a software publishing company which makes Nisus Writer Pro (pronounced "Nice us" a good English word that means an endeavor, or effort), an easy to use and powerful, award-winning, word processing program and a variety of other useful tools.

I taught the Introduction to Judaism class of the UAHC (now URJ) at least once a year for nearly twenty years in New York, New Jersey and San Diego. I enjoyed teaching the class not only because of the pleasure I received in experiencing someone's first adult response to Judaism, but also because the variety of approaches I perceived enrich my own awareness of the beauties and excitement of Jewish life.

I am married (since 1973) to Deborah R. Prinz, Rabbi emerita of Temple Adat Shalom in Poway, California and author of On the Chocolate Trail. We live in a studio apartment in New York City and explore chocolate (and the special Jewish relationship with it) around the world.

Debbie and I have two children. Our daughter Avigail Hurvitz-Prinz is finishing her MSW studies at Smith. Our son Noam Gross-Prinz is in urban planning and is married to Rachel Gross-Prinz, now a rabbinic student in Cincinnati. We have two young grandsons: Amiel & Pele. My sister recently retired from 30 years as a social worker for the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services in New York, and my brother lives in Israel with his family on kibbutz Hatzor (Ashdod). (He is lucky enough to be able to merge work with play through earning a living specializing in the uses of the Internet in the educational process.)

Hurvitz || Prinz || Avrunin

Ego Surfing
(Wherein I look for people with my name on the WWW.)

Rabbis With Web Sites

What would it be like if I took a(n almost) daily picture?

A Starting Point












© Mark Hurvitz
Last modified 13 June 2014