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Horwitz juggles Judaism and elite sport with maturity beyond his years

By Jake Rosengarten

Waratahs centre David Horwitz plays alongside some of rugby’s biggest names on a weekly basis, however, Australia’s first and only Jewish Super Rugby player still manages to remain in touch with his faith.

Despite a poor start to the season for the ‘Tahs, Horwitz has been ever-present in the starting XV and played a big role in their potentially season-defining 29-26 victory over interstate rivals the Queensland Reds at the weekend.

As Australia’s first ever Jewish Super Rugby player, Horwitz carries the hopes of a community each and every time he pulls on the jersey. Growing up with Jewish South-African parents, the 22-year-old maintains a close connection to his heritage and shows impressive maturity in his approach to his religion.

“I wouldn’t say I’m fully religious but my parents raised me with Jewish values and I went to Moriah College until year 4 – all of my extended family is Jewish. Everything we celebrate within the holidays and weekly Shabbats still play a big part in my life. Obviously, I can’t abide by some of the things, if they clash with my rugby commitments, sometimes rugby does take priority but I’m a proud Jew and I practice it where I can.”

Playing sport at an elite level comes with its concessions and for Horwitz this often means his Judaism taking a back seat to his rugby playing commitments. Rugby is a taxing game, and one which sees the centre and his team fly all over the world on a regular basis.

Since receiving a call from Waratahs coach Michael Cheika upon the completion of his HSC, the now matured fly-half turned centre has found a home at the ‘Tahs. Having made his way through the pathways of elite rugby since a young age, Horwitz felt encouraged in making the step up – not doubting his own talent along the way and never losing touch with the big picture.

Despite a heavily Waratahs-focused mindset these days, Horwitz maintains a deep connection with Maccabi, having played his junior sport for the club and nurturing a heavy family link to Australia’s premier Jewish sporting organisation.

“I played all my soccer when I was younger for Maccabi, I’ve been involved in a lot of sports days and both of my brothers are now playing in the Maccabiah Games so it’s great to stay connected and see other Jews running around playing rugby.”

A glittering career lays ahead of the former Moriah student as he continues to rack up plaudits for his work both on and off the park.

When quizzed upon what advice he would give young Maccabi athletes, his response was one which displayed his commitment to his game as well as his community.

“Just keep playing rugby. There is a pathway there, obviously, a lot of Jewish sportsmen go towards soccer or athletics. I played a lot of sport when I was younger, but I chose rugby because the mateship and friendships are second to none. Being in that physical environment and looking at that person next to you and knowing that they have your back – is awesome and makes connections and relationships that I’ll have for life.”

Horwitz continues to trail blaze the way for Jewish rugby and acts as a real example of the fact that the sky is the limit for our Jewish athletes in the pursuit for sporting greatness.

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