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November 14, 2003 - Image 34

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-11-14

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ticipate together in conversations about
their commitment to the Hillel ideal.
"Parents need to realize that children
don't come out of a cookie-cutter,"
Freedman said. "And, along with their
children, they need to understand what
it means to be in a Jewish day school."
Individualizing teaching styles for a
wider variety of learners is another of his
goals, along with establishing a curricu-
lum so students can transfer into the
school after attending public school.
He's also establishing a faculty task force
to restructure Hillel's upper school.
Although Hillel will award $1.5 mil-
lion in scholarship assistance this year,
numerous Hillel students come from
wealthy families. This brings its own set
of moral lessons, Freedman said.
"We had money in Philadelphia, too
— Beth Sholom [there] is probably one
of the best-endowed Jewish religious
institutions in the United States," he
said. "The message has to be that peo-
ple are evaluated by their character, not
by their [financial] contributions."
As president of the Jewish Educators
Assembly (JEA), Freedman leads about
500 Conservative movement educators
and educational administrators.
Through his JEA involvement, he
learned about Hillel before he knew
there was a job opening.
"The school has an outstanding repu-
tation," he said. "It's one of the largest
Solomon Schechter schools in the coun-
try, and it serves a wonderful, tight,
warm community."
Freedman's first impressions are that
everybody passionately cares about the
welfare of the school. I feel a tremen-
dous amount of support."
A doctoral candidate at the Jewish
Theological Seminary, Freedman was
not looking for a job when he started
getting feelers about the position.
"It was important to us not to move
while our children were in high school,"
he said. "I received a call. Our oldest
was just about to start high school. I
think in some ways this was a beshert
[meant to be] move."
Since moving to West Bloomfield, the
family has joined Congregation Shan rey
Zedek, B'nai Israel Center. Freedman's
older son, Eytan, attends the Jewish
Academy of Metropolitan Detroit; older
daughter Elana attends a West
Bloomfield public school; Talia and
Yoni are Hillel students.
Joan Freedman, who, along with her
husband, began her career as a syna-
gogue youth director, has just accepted
the position of Jewish educator for
Shalom Street, the interactive museum
soon to open at the Jewish Community
Center of Metropolitan Detroit.


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