Dear Jewish Detroit,
As with many adventures in life, this all started with a phone call. Well, actually two — the first from our old friend Lisa Soble Siegmann, who told us about an opening at Jewish Federation for the Director of the Alliance for Jewish Education, and the second from Scott Kaufman, who said that Lisa had insisted he give us a call.
So now, after 12 years, though we thought that we were Here for Good, it’s time for us to say, Farewell Jewish Detroit.
We have been collecting countless memories and will carry them al—
Lori: What are you going to do with all these memories? We are supposed to be downsizing! We only have room to pack a ten.
Jeff: Only ten memories? Surely we have room for more than that. Think of all the organizations, schools, and congregations where we have taught and worked for over a decade. What if we got rid of the sofa and loveseat? That should make room for at least twenty memories.
Lori: In that case, we can fit eighteen memories.
Jeff: Deal! 18 each.
Lori: 9 each.
Jeff and Lori’s 18 Fondest Memories of Jewish Detroit
Some memories crystalize in a moment. Others need time to marinate, like a proper brisket, to reveal their true tenderness.
JL: Working with the Hermelin Davidson Center for Congregation Education to invest in innovative Jewish programming that has touched thousands of people’s lives, including PeerCorps, JHSM's The Traveling Trunk, Camp Sababa, CSI2, Teen Network Weavers, JBaby Detroit, Community Director of Jewish Teen Engagement, Witness Theater, Backstage Pass and Song Leader Boot Camp.
LSL: Guiding organizational change as a consultant with the Congregational School Improvement and Innovation project (CSI2).
JL: After a year of planning, celebrating Israel at 70 on the Detroit Riverfront.
LSL: Presenting workshops at the Jewish Early Childhood conferences and being embraced by the educators enthusiasm for learning new classroom methodologies.
JL: Working with the dedicated members of the following professional networks: Michigan Board of Rabbis, Metro Detroit Board of Jewish Educators, and Early Childhood Educators Network and wrestling with making “wise” decisions with the management teams at Jewish Federation, the JCC and Farber Hebrew Day School.
LSL: Sharing the history of Jewish Detroit with students and their parents through the Detroit Traveling Trunk.
JL: A memorable 48 hours when we were given a day to create and deliver a million-dollar endowment proposal to support special needs education. The day after we presented the proposal we were told the endowment had been approved by the Dresner Foundation.
LSL: The smiling faces of the early childhood students and staff at Temple Israel and Farber Hebrew Day School.
JL: Celebrating with Jewish teens and delegation heads from across the US at the Detroit hosting of the JCC Maccabi Games.
LSL: The many Sundays spent with incredible high school students who want to make sure that all children have a place in the classroom through the Opening the Door’s Harold Wade Madrichim program.
JL: Moving Federation’s Jewish education department from Federation to the JCC.
LSL: Schmoozing with shop owners in Ferndale, Royal Oak and greater Metropolitan Detroit on behalf of Oy, What a Deal!
JL: The dedicated volunteers and professionals entrusted to allocate tzedakah funds to this deeply generous community.
LSL: The joy of helping B’nai Mitzvah students for Congregation Shaarey Zedek when master their prayers and Dvar Torah; bringing college students to experience a Shabbat morning service at Congregation Beth Ahm; and innovative opportunities for Congregation B’nai Moshe, Congregation Shir Tikvah and Temple Emanu-El.
JL: Receiving Federation’s Pappas Award for Innovation.
LSL: The passion and commitment of the teachers that attended my Nirim and SEED conference in-service workshops.
JL: The hours — both urgent and endless, with too much noise and too little information — spent making critical decisions about COVID with JCC and Farber Hebrew Day School leadership.
JL & LSL: You! Most of all we will cherish the memories of all of the warm, generous, talented, kind, and wonderful students, educators, volunteers, and professionals who are now our friends and woven into the fabric of our lives. You are too many to name. Please know that if you had a hand in creating any of these memories, you are in our hearts.
Jeff: The movers want to know how much insurance we need to cover our memories.
Lori: Hard to say … they’re priceless.
Jeff: In Hebrew there is a word L’Hitraot, which better describes our leaving than farewell. A farewell is a final goodbye. L’Hitroat is more of a so long — until we meet again.
Lori: So L’Hitraot, Jewish Detroit. Next stop, Philadelphia…
Jeff and Lori
Lori Serbin Lasday is a master Jewish educator and a passionate teacher of teachers who has never met a stranger and believes that every interaction is an opportunity to learn something new. She can be reached at lbslasday[at]gmail.com.
Jeffrey Lasday served as the Director of Federation’s Alliance for Jewish Education, Chief Operating Officer of the Jewish Community Center, and Interim Chief Operating Officer of Farber Hebrew Day School. In Philadelphia, Jeff will serve as the Senior Chief of External Affairs for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. He can be reached at jlasday[at]gmail.com.