Detroit’s Z Lot
By Frank Lepkowski
September 1, 2015
by Vivian Henoch
Detroit is full of surprises. Where else can you pull into a parking garage and find your spot in an international tourist destination? Every level you ascend reveals another artist, another mural, another chapter of our city’s ever-changing story. The Z – the first ground-up development by Bedrock Real Estate Services (bounded by Gratiot and Grand River Avenues and Broadway and Library Streets) – is in so many ways a microcosm of Detroit on the rise. Ten floors, each with a different view, each with its own brand of color and wild imagination, looking at life through a unique lens, telling a tale that could only be told here.
As we speed off in all directions, from the East Side to the West Side, downtown to the burbs, county to county and sometimes even coast to coast, our hearts always belong to the city. Generation after generation, there’s a Jewish story being told in Detroit. And here are just a few from its cast of characters, finding their place and making their mark in the Motor City.
Photos: John Hardwick and Vivian Henoch
Detroit resident; Alumni Relations Director, Tamarack Camps
Also: Co-Chair and Founding Committee, Pitch for Detroit, Board Member, Jewish Historical Society of Michigan; Bucketlister, The Well.
Occupassion: Getting all worked up watching Tigers and Spartans games
Words to live by: “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” – Bill Nye
Online Content Strategist, Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit
Occupassion: Downtown Synagogue Board Member, Chabad in the D Garden Manager, dog mom
Words to live by: No one ever went broke from giving.
Shimon G. Levy
Entrepreneur, Secret Sauce Capital/ Nonprofit Consultant, Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit
Occupassion: Social entrepreneurism among Jewish millennials
Words to live by: “In for a penny, in for a pound.”
Founding Editor, Writer: myJewishDetroit, Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit
Occupassion: City life, photography, books, blogs, cooks, travel, grandchildren!
Words to live by: “Everyone has a story.”
User Experience Design, Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit
Occupassion: Creating seamless experiences accross the web. Learning. Doing.
Words to live by: “Being right keeps you in place. Being wrong forces you to explore.”
Commercial Real Estate Broker, VP of Brokerage at Indigo Centers
Also: Board Member of JVS and Team member at Menorah in the D
Occupassion: live music junkie, Michigan Live Music Scene/Facebook group
Words to live by: “My definition of balance is being able to obsess equally in all areas of my life.”
Rabbi Yisrael Pinson
Director of Chabad of Greater Downtown Detroit
Also: Co-founder of Menorah in the D, Board Member of NEXTGen Detroit and
Jewish Family Services; Volunteer, Friendship Circle of Michigan
Occupassion: Connecting young people with Jewish experiences
Words to live by: “When two people meet, something good should result for a third person.” – The Rebbe
Harriet J. Berg
Dance Historian Detroit resident, Founder & Artistic Director, Dance Thru History LLC (retired)
Occupassion: Dance, dance, dance!
Words to live by: “To live is to dance, and to dance is to live.”
Detroit Director, Repair the World
Occupassion: Coaching kindergarten soccer
Words to live by: “Spontaneity favors the practiced mind.”
Fellow, Repair the World – Detroit
Occupassion: Planting the seeds of Food Justice
Words to live by: “Even fake plants need to be pretend-watered from time to time.”
Fellow, Repair the World – Detroit
Occupassion: Individualizing education
Words to live by: “Own your lived experience.”
Interim CEO, JARC a non-profit that provides homes and support services for people with disabilities.
Also: Board member, Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue
Occupassion: Living a centered, positive life with integrity.
Words to live by: “Be kind.”
Director, Downtown Synagogue
Also: Board Member of CAPPS: Citizens Alliance on Prisons & Public Spending; Adjunct Faculty, Jackson College at the Macomb Correctional Facility; Volunteer, Recovery Park, Inc.
Occupassion: Eradicating the term “blank canvas” from Detroiter’s and visitor’s vocabularies
Words to live by: “If knowledge is the key, then just show me the lock.” – A Tribe Called Quest
Leor Barak, DS
Lawyer, Compliance Manager, Detroit Land Bank Authority West Village Resident
Occupassion: 7Layers (the Band and the cake), Pizza, Detroit
Words to live by: “Spread love.”
Administrative Assistant at the Jewish Historical Society of Michigan
Also: Member, Board of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue
Occupassion: biking and knitting, still looking to find a way to combine them.
Words to live by: “Balance in all things”
Jodee Fishman Raines
VP of Programs, Erb Family Foundation
Also: Board member, Agree Downtown Synagogue, Palmer Woods Association; Volunteer, People for Palmer; member, Palmer Park Keep Growing Detroit, Eastern Market, DIA, MOCAD
Occupassion: Detroit, gardening, building community
Words to live by: “If you want to go fast, go alone; If you want to go far, go together.”
Retired Academic, Professor Emeritus of Humanities, Wayne State University.
Also: Society of Active Retirees (SOAR), A WSU program for devotées of lifelong learning: Founding member and still active (pro bono) faculty and board member.
Occupassion: Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue (IADS), Former President; current board member and ritual director
Words to live by: “Always try to be your best self.”
DaVid Powel ben Avraham
Director Legal Resources, Metropolitan Legal Resource Center, PC
Occupassion: Reading History, Torah and Law, gardening.
Words to live by: “Seek peace and pursue it.”
Business Owner/ Yoga Teacher Citizen Yoga
Occupassion: Positive Business and Philosophy
Words to live by: “Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings while the dawn is still dark.” – Tagore
Founder and Principal, Sidewalk Ventures
Occupassion: helping local businesses raise money from groups of local investors, proving that small scale business don’t have to take a back seat to high-growth tech companies and that investors across all income levels can earn meaningful return by supporting businesses they love.
Words to live by: “There are dreamers and there are doers. Whichever one you are, try to be a little more of the other from time to time.”
Proprietress, The Peacock Room and Frida
Also: Member, Isaac Agree Downtown Synogogue, Preservation Detroit Advisory Board
Occupassion: I have the best job in the world- helping women feel good about themselves.
Words to live by: “When it’s better for everyone, it’s better for everyone.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
Associate Director, Hazon Detroit
Occupassion: Spontaneous preservationist and fermenter
Words to live by: “Six days you work, and the seventh day is Shabbat (radical sustainability).”
Landscape Architect, Detroit Farm and Garden / Classic Landscape, Ltd.
Occupassion: Landscape Architecture; providing creative and practical land use solutions to achieve balance and harmony between people and the environment.
Words to live by: “I live not in dreams but in contemplation of a reality that is perhaps the future.” –Rilke
CEO at Fresh Corner Café, Board Chair at Detroit Food Academy, Detroit Grocery Store Coordinator at Fair Food Network, Chief Solutionary at Fresh Corner Solutions.
Occupassion: Wielding the power of good food to further equity, create opportunity, and improve quality of life.
Words to live by: “Just make sure you’re having fun along the way.”
Co-Director, Keep Growing Detroit, working to create a more just, healthy, equitable, delicious food system in Detroit
Occupassion: My woodworking business, ‘Occasional Woodworking’, where I aspire to create beautiful, functional, and interactive furnishings from reclaimed and sustainably harvested wood.
Words to live by: “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” (Pirkei Avot 2:21)
Alyssa Bracha McMillan
Social Worker/Patient Services Coordinator – ALS of Michigan
Occupassion: Empowering mankind
Also: NEXTGen Board Member, Hillel Advisor Board Member and NEXTGen Volunteer Committee Co-Chair
Words to live by: “Do not judge your fellow until you have stood in his place” (Pirkei Avot 2:4) “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” – Frederick Douglass
Abi Liepshutz, LLMSW
Clinical Social Worker at Sinai-Grace Hospital
Also: Graduate, Wayne State University School of Social Work; member, Jewish Social Work Student Association, Phi Sigma Pi Honor Fraternity Alumni Advisory Board.
Occupassion: NextGEN board member, NextGEN Volunteers board member, volunteering with hospice patients, yoga, being a dog mom. ☺
Words to live by: “Stop comparing yourself to others. The only person you should compete with is yourself, focusing on whether you have done better today than yesterday.”
Detroit Ambassador, Bedrock Real Estate Services
Occupassion: Detroit! I love to tell my 11 and 8 year old kids that they will read about our work in social studies one day. This is history in the making.
Words to live by: “What’s happening in Detroit today is something that cannot be explained in words. It’s something you need to see to understand.”
Public Relations Associate, Bedrock Real Estate Services
Occupassion: I am passionate about Detroit and love telling Detroit’s comeback story to the world. I’m also passionate about cooking, health and wellness, so working with Bedrock’s many restaurant and wellness tenants has been a thrill for me.
Words to live by: “The journey is the destination. Embrace and enjoy the process with an attitude of gratitude.”
Rabbi Arianna Silverman
Rabbi of the Grosse Pointe Jewish Council and Interim Manager of Lifelong Learning for the Central Conference of American Rabbis.
Also: Jewish educator in Detroit, Co-founder of the Woodbridge JEEWS, Board Member of NEXTGen Detroit, and Organizing Committee, Member of Detroit Jews for Justice.
Occupassion: Educating and empowering Jews to make intentional choices and be passionate advocates for social justice
Rabbi Alana Alpert
Director of Detroit Jews for Justice
Also: Rabbi of Congregation T’chiyah
Occupassion: Engaging the Jewish community in movements for racial and economic justice; Exploring the relationship between spiritual practice and social change.
Words to live by: “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” Arundhati Roy