Yeshiva Gedolah

“The boy who others rally around to follow his lead”

“A boy with an uncanny ability to share words of encouragement”

“A boy who strives to achieve his best in every area of his life”

A remarkable boy, indeed, Shmuel (Shmuly) Seligson has earned more than high marks for his achievements at Yeshiva Gedolah Ateres Mordechai. By all accounts, he has earned the admiration of his teachers and peers, alike.

In his endorsement of Shmuly as the recipient of the esteemed David Hermelin Leadership Award, Rabbi Eliezer Brus, Principal of Yeshiva Gedolah, reflected that in his years of experience as principal and student mentor, Shmuly has distinguished himself as “possibly the most well-rounded student he’s ever had . . .  one who leads by his behavior and sensitivity to others, which draws the love of all. Shmuly is our Unspoken Principal, leading by superb example.”

A scholarship in loving memory of David Hermelin

Sponsored by Sam and Nancy Shamie Family, the annual David Hermelin Leadership Award was established in 2001 to honor the memory of David Hermelin, a beloved leader in the Detroit Jewish community, well known as a philanthropist, business entrepreneur and United States ambassador to Norway (1997-2000). Recipients of the award receive a full-year tuition scholarship in their junior or senior year of studies at a Jewish day school affiliated with the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. Though academic achievement is a factor in evaluating candidates for the award, the scholarship primarily recognizes young people in the Detroit community who show great potential to follow in David Hermelin’s footsteps. David Hermelin’s wife, Doreen, is a member of the selection committee for the Scholarship.

Shmuley Seligson
Shmuley (second from left) with his brother, parents, Doreen Hermelin and Nancy Shamie

In her remarks to students, family and friends gathered at the presentation of the Award, Doreen Hermelin expressed her gratitude to the Shamies. “I have received much of the benefit of this award, because people think it was my husband, David, who created it. David cared deeply about Jewish education, but it was Sam Shamie, a very dear friend, who established the scholarship to carry David’s name forward for a cause he championed during his lifetime. We have the Shamie family to thank for doing this incredible mitzvah for deserving students in our community.”

“Those of us who had the great privilege of knowing David remember how he could walk into a room and light it up with his enthusiasm, his sense of fun and community spirit,” said Nancy Shamie. “David was our cheerleader. He was instrumental in getting my husband, Sam, involved with Federation and, in return, Sam wanted to do something special to keep the memory of David’s leadership alive. So every year, we ask each of the Jewish day schools in Detroit affiliated with Federation to nominate a special student with the goal to recognize leaders and who have the potential to inspire leadership in others.”

In his words . . . “leading by example”

The oldest of the five children in the Seligson family, “blessed to be a fourth generation Detroiter,” and noted to be a gifted student and one of the top athletes in the  school, Shmuly writes  in his winning essay, “A true leader is always learning.”

“It is a privilege to have grown up in the same city as my grandparents, who I saw lead by example. They have left an indelible impression on me. Through many decades, the earlier generations of my family have been leaders. They have chaired and were members of numerous organizational boards . . . including shul boards, school boards and the local city council during their ‘spare’ time. Their commitment to leadership has imbued within me an innate sense of responsibility toward family community and beyond.”

Now in his junior year, heading for a year of decisions and next big steps, Shmuly emphasizes that his goal it to be a true Ben Torah – “one who is constantly growing, building his character” to have a positive impact on the world through whatever path he chooses.”

Given the blessing of family and community, indeed Shmuly has been given the tools to choose well.