Born in Chicago, proud to call Jewish Detroit his home where his family roots are firmly planted, Rabbi Joshua Bennett celebrated his 25th anniversary at Temple Israel on June 26th in a moving Kabbalat Shabbat service via Zoom. “We are living in the midst of Covid-19, a pandemic that has changed our lives for the foreseeable future,” he said in the sermon he delivered that evening. “We also are living through another pandemic of racial inequality that has divided our nation. It might seem as if the best of times is behind us. But I do not believe it so. I believe another life is just beginning. I have been blessed with Temple Israel 1.0 as my proving ground for a quarter of a century. Now, I get to dream about version 2.0 and the words written on my tallit. Ve-im lo achshav, ei’matay? If not now, when?”
A lifelong Detroiter and a community builder at large, Matt Lester will step up as the next President to serve Federation when his term begins in September 2020. An attorney with 25 years in real estate development and management, Matt is Founder and CEO of Princeton Enterprises, a company that has become a well-known name in Greater Detroit, while expanding property operations in fifteen states across the Midwest and Southeast.
Beyond the realm of business, Matt has turned his focus towards community development for nearly 20 years - as Federation’s Annual Campaign Chair and an Executive Board Member, as well as in service to numerous boards including the American Joint Distribution Committee, Jewish Senior Life, Kadima, The Jewish Fund, BBYO, Yad Ezra, Forgotten Harvest, Tamarack Camps, United Jewish Foundation, Project Healthy Community, Detroit Institute of Arts and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Spare time? Matt manages to find it and cherish it with his family, Michigan football, traveling and the simple pleasures of farming on his property in northern Michigan.
An advocate for kids, an ambassador for reducing the stigma still associated with mental illness . . . that’s how Lilly Jacobson sees her role in the community these days. And her days are full. A clinical psychologist, formerly affiliated with Children’s Hospital of Michigan and currently in private practice, as well as the Chair of Federation’s Youth Mental Health Initiative, Lilly has made it her goal to educate the community about current mental health issues and to reach young people (and those who love and influence them) with positive messages of self-worth. “We need to talk about depression and anxiety as major health problems among our youth,” she affirms. “Too many of our children are struggling in silence. We Need to Talk – a Federation initiative in partnership with the community – has become our call to action.”
They finish each other’s sentences. They describe their life as Perfect. Chaos. Typical. Jewish. Blessed. Two busy professionals, never too busy for their leading roles as parents and Jewish community volunteers. This is Ilana Liss, Managing Director at Schechter Wealth . . . and Zachary Liss, MD, Pediatric Urologist, Michigan Institute of Urology . . . a NEXTGen Detroit couple, committed to building community and leading by example.
She loves Christmas for its festivity. He loves Yom Kippur for its solemnity. He’s Catholic married to a Jew. She’s a Democrat married to a Republican. Conservative. Liberal. Activist. Zionist. Harvard-Grad/ Attorney. Exec. V.P/ Biz Owner. Multi-Cultural. Intermarried. Parents, first and foremost, preparing their children for a complex world, Alicia and Jeff Chandler have embraced their individuality in a marriage that defies labels and celebrates their unity - through their abiding love, their faith in the strength of family and their commitment to the greater good of the community.