When asked for the words that describe the qualities of their busy life together, Shayna and Joshua look at each other and laugh.
“Ambitious?” Josh suggests.
“Organized,” Shayna counters.
“Blessed!” Josh offers emphatically.
“Happily ever exhausted . . .,” Shayna chuckles.
“And Jewish!” both agree.
If ever two people were meant to meet in their junior semester abroad studying at the University of Tel Aviv, it would be Shayna (Loss), the rabbi’s daughter, and Joshua Levine, the son of a longtime Jewish Federation Professional from Atlanta.
Past president of NEXTGen Detroit and the recipient of Federation’s 2016 Wetsman Award for Outstanding Leadership, Josh sits with Shayna for photos in the Chapel at Temple Israel, the synagogue where they were married 13 years ago. “I’m a child of Federation—I grew up in the system,” he says, “And Temple Israel always has been Shayna’s second home.”
Shayna and Josh started their married life in Atlanta, but given a strong network of friends and family pulling for their return to Detroit, it didn’t take long before they found outstanding career opportunities here. In 2005, Josh joined Telemus Capital where he is now a Partner and Senior Financial Life Advisor. Shayna found an ideal match for her skills in computer engineering and project management with ePrize (now HelloWorld) where she is now a Business Analysis Manager. They moved to Huntington Woods and currently are four blocks from Shayna’s sister. Today, like Shayna years ago, their children are growing up in the heart of the community. Brandon, 8, and Marni, 6, are both at Hillel Day School, and twins Cailey and Mia (4) attend Temple Israel’s Early Childhood Center (ECC).
On Family Background, Early Influences
Shayna: I grew up in Detroit – literally in this building (Temple Israel) and, of course, as far back as I can remember, I was involved in Jewish life in Detroit. I went to Hillel Day School and in high school was part of the Temple Israel Youth Group (YFTI), serving as president. Starting at the age of one, I traveled to Israel with my family just about every other summer of my childhood.
Josh: My family is originally from South Jersey. We moved to Atlanta when I was three, when my dad took a job with the Atlanta Jewish Federation. Like Shayna, I went to Jewish Day School – the Solomon Schechter Epstein School. Summers were spent at Jewish camps – Camp Judea in North Carolina, then Tel Yehuda in New York. I always was active in sports. In high school, my soccer team won the state championship and in my senior year, I won the wrestling state championship and, as a result, earned a spot to run with the 1996 Olympic Torch.
myJD: Fast forward: (Josh) from the University of Texas and (Shayna) from the University of Michigan, you meet at the University of Tel Aviv in your junior year. After graduation in 2000, Josh takes a job back in Atlanta as a financial consultant with Towers Perrin and Shayna moves to Atlanta in 2001 to join the corporate offices of Home Depot. When did you get engaged?
Josh: We got engaged in 2002 while I was an associate at Towers Perrin and still working on my MBA in the biz school at Emory. I proposed at Piedmont Park in Atlanta. Shayna’s parents flew in for a surprise visit and my parents were waiting with them to celebrate with us at a restaurant in the park. Shayna was totally surprised, but actually 80% of the wedding had been planned before we got engaged! If you know Rabbi Harold Loss, you need to get on his calendar early! The rabbi was booked a few weeks before the bride even knew to set the date.
Shayna: We had the rabbi, we had the date, we had the place. I was the only one in the dark on this whole thing. We were married July 5, 2003.
On Returning to Detroit
Josh: I always knew through the course of our relationship that Shayna was going to come back to Michigan. I knew how important her family was, but to her credit, we both decided that we really needed to get the right opportunities. We had great jobs in Atlanta; we had a good life. We started looking, but really looking using our connections.
Shayna: We found Detroit to be really eager to bring back great talent. You hear it all the time now, but it wasn’t that hard of a process. We both found incredible opportunities, both in different industries, fields, but much more aligned to what we wanted to be doing anyway. This was even before the Detroit resurgence – way before the cusp. At that point, people were still leaving in droves.
Josh: People thought we were crazy! Leaving Atlanta to go to Detroit??
Shayna: We’ve both been with the same companies since we moved, almost 11 years now.
On Career Choices
myJD:What early influences drew you to your professions?
Josh: As a psychology and business major in college, I don’t think I set out to be a financial advisor per se. I like to work with people. I always have. I like building relationships.
I joined Telemus nearly at the inception of the firm in 2005. At the time, Gary Ran, the founding partner, told me that the company was looking for good people to work in a team approach and provide holistic advice to clients as opposed to selling products. What drew me was the opportunity. The more I got into it, the more I realized it’s all a relationship-driven business, which I loved . . . all sales are building relationships. And I was able to help people and get paid while I was doing it. A win-win!
Shayna: Talk about networking, a friend of mine had heard that we were looking to come back and they put Josh in touch with this company called ePrize. We were in Atlanta, sitting in a car when Josh gets their call. As they start to discuss the role they were looking to fill, Josh says, I have to stop you, because I really think the person who fits this position is sitting right here. What you are describing is exactly what my wife is looking for.
On Jewish Detroit as it Compares to Jewish Atlanta
Josh: Detroit has the history and you hear about the strong Jewish community here; it’s very evident. I had a wonderful time growing up in Atlanta and wasn’t sure how I would be received after moving to Detroit.
We came to Michigan and immediately, Jonathan Goldstein, Federation’s YAD (Young Adult Division) Director at the time, invited me to join the Board. Fast forward: today, my colleague, Matt Ran, is the incoming NEXTGen President, and we have more applicants for board positions than spots available. We’re in a great place.
On NEXTGen and Next Things
myJD: What are the accomplishments of NEXTGen that have made you most proud?
Josh: Overall, it’s been a great experience. I had chaired a number of committees, Entrée, the David Ben-Gurion Society and the Campaign, before my term as president the last year of YAD in 2011-12. One of things Shayna and I did together was participate in the Adam and Jodi Becker “All-Star Mission to Israel.” There were 15 people on that inaugural mission and every one of us all has become extremely involved in Federation over the years.
While I was president in 2011, Miryam Rosenzweig joined Federation and, along with a number of people including Robb Lippitt, Rachel Wright and Marty Maddin, we developed and implemented the idea for NEXTGen. What followed was our first EPIC Event, where we really started to see our donor base and fundraising dollars grow. And we have a great pipeline of people – doing a lot of great things.
Josh: In my opinion, you have to stay attuned to what the community wants. Just like in business, the community landscape always is changing. That’s the impetus of some of the dramatic changes we’ve seen at Hillel Day School as well as Temple Israel’s ECC.
Shayna: When Josh talks about Temple Israel being very adapting to the world, it’s true that we’ve had a direct impact on changes in the Temple, particularly in the ECC. When our son first started in the in pre-school, I found the hours for a napping child to be challenging with my work schedule and imagined other working moms felt the same. With my input, they have since added a napping room and extended pre-care and after-care hours. The school is now packed with children from the hours of 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Today, we have a really strong pre-school and kindergarten where our kids have an exceptional all-day experience, and I’m happy to see our youngest girls run around here like they own the place.
Josh: The transformation of Hillel over the past two years is another great example of innovation and progressiveness in our Jewish community. With the building remodeling, they’ve opened up a different school, a different feel and approach to teaching. Everything about it is impressive—just where we want our kids to be.
Restaurants: Selden Standard, Chartreuse, we love trying new restaurants downtown every weekend
Place to take kids: Detroit Zoo – in our backyard and a walk through our neighborhood, you can see the llamas and camels
Best Day in the D: Campus Martius, Riverwalk, Eastern Market and then a Tigers game
Vacation place in Michigan: Camp Michigania on Walloon Lake
Sports: Josh is a triathlete, a runner and still plays soccer; Shayna favors boot camp workouts. Our alarm goes off at 5:00 a.m. every morning, and it’s either my day or Josh’s to go work out.
Jewish food: Kugel. Brisket. Matzo ball soup.
Jewish holiday: Passover. Rosh Hashanah.
Guilty pleasure: (Shayna) Jigsaw puzzles and tap dancing. (Josh) Anything on Netflix.
Never leave home without: iPhones that tell us where to be and when
Reading now: (Josh) My Promised Land, by Ari Shavit.
Listening now: (Shayna) I drive all over the city listening to books, currently The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah.
Watching now: The Good Wife, House of Cards, Game of Thrones (soon to read the R.R. Martin series!)
Words to live by: Never be in a rush for your kids to grow up. Enjoy every phase.