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Philip Horn: a leader ‘passionate’ about Judaism, Israel

Philip Horn: a leader ‘passionate’ about Judaism, Israel

Philip Horn, who died May 25, 2020, advocated for the release of Jonathan Pollard, an American charged with spying for Israel. Courtesy Elana Prezant
Philip Horn, who died May 25, 2020, advocated for the release of Jonathan Pollard, an American charged with spying for Israel. Courtesy Elana Prezant

Philip Horn and his family lived in Jerusalem from 1971-75 when he was the director of the YMHA there. The building was used as a shelter during the 1973 Yom Kippur War and, according to his daughter, the experience stayed with him. Determined to defend all forms of assaults on the Jewish state, more than 35 years later when he served as chairman of the World Affairs Committee under the Community Relations Committee (CRC) of MetroWest, Horn developed a workshop to teach college students the skills they would need to stand up to anti-Israel bias on campus. 

“On some campuses the attack on Israel has been very great,” he told NJJN in 2010 when the program was launched. “We need people who are going to speak up. We have a latent corps of potential activists in college. We need to train them and give them the confidence to speak up.”

Horn, a fundraiser, teacher, and champion of Jewish causes, died May 25, 2020. He was 82.

“He loved his family, Judaism and Zionism, the Brooklyn Dodgers and then the Mets, and was a fun father to be around,” said Elana Prezant, his daughter, who lives in Haworth and serves as the JCC of Northern New Jersey’s coordinator of “Open Hearts Open Homes,” a program that brings Israeli teenagers who live near the Gaza border to New Jersey each summer for a break.

Horn, whom his daughter called a devoted family man, spent many years in development for United Jewish Appeal, Israel Bonds, the Jewish Theological Seminary, and Yeshiva University, in addition to the CRC. Horn moved in 2000 from Teaneck to West Orange, where he lived for 19 years.

Born Jan. 23, 1938, Horn earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and history from Brooklyn College and a master’s in social work from Boston University. He was conversant in modern Hebrew and believed American rabbis and Hebrew school teachers should feature the language in services and classes.

“My father would visit friends’ classes and remind them of that, and, at times, would correct their usage of Hebrew, all in fun,” Prezant said.

Rabbi Joel Pitkowsky of Congregation Beth Sholom in Teaneck, who spoke at a memorial service for Horn on May 26 (conducted via Zoom), said he found these visits by his friend useful and entertaining. “I would look forward to Phil coming,” Pitkowsky said during the service. “He always wanted to do what was good and what was right.”

Rabbi Stanley L. Asekoff, rabbi emeritus at B’nai Shalom in West Orange and the rabbi when the family attended the synagogue, also said he enjoyed his time with Horn. “He was so passionate about Judaism and everything he believed in,” Asekoff said.

Horn, an avid writer, publicly expressed his opinion on Israel, Zionism, and other subjects, including the imprisonment of Jonathan Pollard, a former intelligence analyst who pled guilty to spying for Israel  and was released in 2015 after serving 30 years in jail.

Predeceased by a granddaughter, Stephanie Prezant, Horn is survived by his wife, Tania; two daughters, Elana (Jeff) Prezant and Gila (Jerry) Fortinsky of Larchmont, N.Y.; a brother, Rabbi William Horn (Dena) of Summit; a sister, Francine Kirshner of Merrick, N.Y.; and seven grandchildren.

Services were held May 26 with arrangements by Robert Schoem Memorial Chapel in Paramus.

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