From the moment you step into our building, you understand Hillel’s tagline, “Mind and Soul - Better Together.” Students, teachers, administrators, support staff, and Hillel parents are proud to be associated with Hillel. The joy in the classrooms and hallways is palpable. Thousands of stories bring to life what Hillel has meant to alumni and their families, and we are always eager to share them with our community and the world!
I was born in New York and raised in Philadelphia. I have been married to my bashert, Dr. Marsha Pincus Katz, a small animal veterinarian, for the past 27 years. We are the proud parents of two young men, Eli and Jonah, who went to Jewish day schools for their entire education. As a father, I have witnessed firsthand how my sons’ day school education was transformative in their development as Jews, how it inspired a love of Torah, mitzvot, and the Hebrew language, and helped them to become staunch supporters of Israel.
For the past 23 years, I have been blessed in my professional life to work at two schools that are at the forefront of Jewish and independent school education. They were innovative; they challenged the status quo; they inspired a love of learning among their faculty and students; most importantly, they fostered a true sense of Derech Eretz among faculty, staff, students, parents, Board members, and the wider school community. Guided by these principles, I am extremely humbled, honored, and excited to serve as the Head of School at Hillel Day School of Metropolitan Detroit.
Now entering its 64th year, Hillel provides an unmatched secular and Jewish day school education to Jewish children in the Detroit area. At a time when our children’s connection to Judaism and the State of Israel is being challenged in new ways, an ongoing commitment to Jewish literacy and Hebrew fluency has never been more important. I firmly believe that the mission of a Jewish Day School education is to transform the lives of students, create the next generation of Jewish leaders, and ensure Jewish continuity.
We accomplish our mission through a robust curriculum focusing on Torah and Rabbinic literature that fosters an appreciation for the history of the Jewish people, and brings timeless Jewish values and text into modernity. We set aside time for tefillot in traditional and creative forms so that students learn ritual practice and develop an inner spirituality. Hebrew language is taught to all students to emphasize its centrality as the language of the Jewish people, and so students can study Torah and commentary in their original language.
Hillel’s strong Judaic Studies program will ultimately instill a true sense of Jewish pride in our children -- one of the most effective means to combat the sharp rise of anti-Semitism here in the United States and across Europe. We also foster an unwavering commitment to the State of Israel through classroom education about ancient and modern Israel’s history, celebration of important Israeli holidays, and experiential learning opportunities including our legendary eighth grade trip to Israel that forms a resolute connection to the land.
The solid foundation that Hillel students receive in Hebrew language and Judaic Studies complements an excellent General Studies education. Through a modern learning philosophy that focuses on the development of the whole child, Hillel has become a national leader in educational innovation. None of this would be possible without the outstanding faculty and staff who strive to meet the individual learning needs of each student. Hillel’s key strengths and core principles resonate closely with my own as an educator, a father, and a Jew.
Five times throughout the year, as we complete a sefer (book) of the Torah in synagogue on Shabbat morning, the congregation declares out loud in unison “חזק חזק ונתחזק” (chazak chazak venit chazek), which can be translated as “Be Strong! Be strong! We will be strengthened.” Together with the entire Hillel community, we will take this extraordinary school from strength to strength as we write the next chapter of its story.