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March 20, 2008 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2008-03-20

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

This section is sponsored by

• Congregation Shaarey Zedek of Oakland County
• Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit

One Detroiter's Journey

From secular to observant, the move to Israel made all the difference.

Keri Guten Cohen
Story Development Editor

(One of an Israel@60 series about former
Detroiters in Israel and why they live there.)


osh Sherman may have been
raised in Oak Park, but found his
true home in Jerusalem.
His story is almost a cliche: the rebel-
lious kid who could be straightened out
by sending him to Israel for a year. Only
Sherman sent himself after much soul-
searching and chose the observant life as
his path.
He admits he never imagined his life
taking this turn.
"I didn't click with anything Jewish
at Hillel [Day School of Metropolitan
Detroit] — What did I need any of this
crazy Judaism and Hebrew for?" he
recalled. "I didn't live in Israel. I didn't see
any practical reason for it. Even my bar
mitzvah didn't mean that much to me."
Dissatisfied at Berkley High School,
Sherman moved to an apartment near
Wayne State University, worked vari-
ous jobs, continued skateboarding with
friends and worked on earning his general
educational development diploma (GED).
The plan was to go to WSU.
He also began practicing martial arts
and learning about Eastern philosophies.
He worked at Harmony Garden Cafe near
WSU and was drawn to his Muslim co-


Israel@60 Calendar

Ann Arbor

Havdallah, Israeli chocolate tasting and
the film "Walk on Water"
7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 5, Temple
Beth Emeth, 2309 Packard.
This Israeli film is in English with
Hebrew and German subtitles, rated R.
Cost: $5. (734) 665-4744.


"All Shuk Up"
1-5 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, Shalom
Street, 6600 W. Maple, West
Use your shekels to barter with shop
owners, enjoy craft activities and play
"dress up." Every Sunday at 1 p.m.

Yosef and Aviva Sherman at home in Jerusalem

workers who exhibited self-discipline and
respect because of their religion.
Reading the Autobiography of Malcolm
X made him realize that his own roots, like
Malcolm's, were deep, tracing back to the
Levites in the Land of Israel. "We were not
just suburbanites in Oak Park , ) ' he said.
Always on a search for personal growth,
he finally began reading Jewish books and
found the wisdom in Judaism.
"I was turned on and wanted to explore
what it would be like to be authentically
Jewish," he said. "My sister Randi had just
gotten back from a program in Israel, and
I wanted to be there."
Sherman left for Israel on a Birthright
Israel trip through Hillel of Metro Detroit
in May 2000 at age 21. He sold his furni-

find free Israeli foods and real shuk
purchases including clothes, books,
jewelry and more. Children's museum
inside the Jewish Community Center.
Through May 12. (248) 432-5454.

"Address Unknown"

2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. March 31, 2 p.m.
April 1. Jewish Ensemble Theatre, JCC,
6600 W. Maple, West Bloomfield.
This play is performed in Hebrew
(with English subtitles) and is the
American debut performance by the
Kibutz Theatre in Israel. Address
Unknown was adapted from the story
by Kathrine Kressmann Taylor. The
story recounts the breakup of a friend-
ship between a Jewish art dealer in
San Francisco and his German busi-

ture and planned to make aliyah; he just
didn't know the logistics.
He met Jeff Seidel of the Jewish Student
Information Center in Jerusalem. Since
1986, Seidel has enhanced the Jewish
experience for young travelers by arrang-
ing Shabbat dinners with observant fami-
lies or similar experiences.
"He scooped me up quickly and took
me to Ohr Somayach yeshivah," Sherman
said. "It was overwhelming. I didn't have
black hats and jackets in mind."
However, it was free and he made
friends and was enjoying the learning. He
spent a year there. After working in Detroit
over a summer to save money, he went
back for another six months.
"I walked into a yeshivah in Israel and I

ness partner, after the latter returns
to Germany in 1932. The story is told
solely through their letters, and view-
ers can see how the bedrock of affec-
tion and respect between the friends
erodes under the weight of Nazism's
rise and the spread of hatred. Cost
$20. (248) 432-5462.

Michael HarPaz ATID Concert

6 p.m. April 7, Hillel Day School of
Metropolitan Detroit, 32200 Middlebelt
Road, Farmington Hills.
Israeli musician Michael HarPaz
and his band kick off ATID (Alliance
for Teens in Detroit) with a concert
of Hebrew and English songs. ATID
will be the Monday night Jewish high
school program, based at Hillel, for the

was able to pick up a Chumash and I could
read:' he said. "My Hillel background gave
me a foundation that other newly religious
people didn't have."
For someone who questions authority,
the yeshivah was a good fit."You can smack
your hand hard on the desk and disagree,'
he said. "The rabbi cracks a smile and asks,
`Why? What is your understanding?'"
Though he was becoming more obser-
vant and switched to his Hebrew name,
Yosef, he didn't find his niche until he
moved to Yeshivat Bat Ayin in the Judaean
hills south of Jerusalem. There, living in a
well-worn trailer, he learned a more holis-
tic approach to Jewish life.
"I was looking for that:' he said. "It's not
just brachot or how much Talmud you can
memorize; it's learning that applies to my
character and self-growth."
After three years, he moved back to
Jerusalem to study and worked for Seidel.
During that time, his rabbi's wife had a
woman in mind for him, but didn't have
time to give him details. Meanwhile, he
went to a wedding and was introduced to
the same woman by a friend's sister. It was
beshert (meant to be), he says.
Aviva's family is not typical for
Brooklyn's Borough Park, one of the most
Orthodox neighborhoods in the world.
Her mother is traditional and her father is
modern Orthodox "with a Chabad flair."
They married 21/2 years ago and had
their first child, Miriam Orah, three

Journey on page A17

five Detroit area Conservative syna-
gogues. Food, games, iPod giveaways
and ATID enrollment. Free for current
teens enrolled in
a Conservative
synagogue edu-
cational program,
Hillel 7th- and
8th-graders and
Frankel Jewish
Academy stu-
dents. Child (11
and younger),
$15; adults, $20.
Michael HarPaz
Available at the
door. Rabbi Jason
A. Miller, (248) 535-7090, rabbijam®
gmail.com .

March 20 2008


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