When not busy with Tamarack, my side hustle is putting on events with my business, Star Trax. Last Friday afternoon, I was part of a walk-through at Temple Israel to look at the site as a potential venue for our annual Send a Kid to Tamarack event in May (spoiler alert). Typically, when I leave this kind of meeting, my mind is moving fast, thinking about event lighting, logistics, and other details; however, Friday’s visit struck me in a totally different way.
It was the first time I had been in a synagogue since the anti-Semitic violence at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas. It was also just a few hours until we welcomed the first Shabbat since that horrible incident. Before leaving the Temple Israel parking lot, I slowed down to reflect on the importance of our Jewish congregational community and its many resilient leaders. Throughout metro Detroit, we are truly blessed to have rabbis who care deeply about community and tirelessly dedicate their time, knowledge, and guidance to our Federation agencies, including Tamarack Camps.
For example, in our agency, we are fortunate to be led by Rabbi Ben Shalva. He works with us throughout the year and lives in Ortonville during the summer. In those months, he is joined by visiting rabbis from many local temples; collectively, they help kids prepare for their bar and bat mitzvahs, lead Shabbat services, and provide informal Jewish education and programming. Additionally, we work with rabbis around the community who take an active role in weekly meetings, education, and recruitment efforts for the Sue & Alan Kaufman & Family Teen Mission to Israel. Several even travel with the teens during the trip! Other rabbis serve as advisors to our agency or more formally as directors on our Tamarack Board, and each can be called on to help, lend insight, or jump in to deliver a last-minute D’var Torah at our meetings (shout out to Rabbi Daniel Schwartz from Wednesday night!).
I have so much respect for the congregational leaders that I’m privileged to know and work with through Tamarack and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. Our rabbis are deeply engaged partners whose wisdom and involvement guide all of us – spiritually, emotionally, and culturally. I feel tremendously grateful for their constant investment in our mission and shared commitment to building a vibrant Jewish future for us all.