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SHI North America Adds Midwest Hub, Welcomes Rebecca Starr as Midwest Manager

SHI North America is bringing Hartman learning to the Midwest from a new regional hub in Detroit, led by Midwest Manager Rebecca Starr and supported by the William Davidson Foundation.

The Shalom Hartman Institute of North America is delighted to announce that as of the fall of 2019, it will serve the Midwest from a new regional hub in Detroit.

This new initiative, supported by the William Davidson Foundation and led by Midwest Manager  Rebecca Starr , is part of Hartman’s growth plan in North America. Detroit will be the seventh city to have a Hartman presence, following Toronto, Boston, New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco and Los Angeles.

As Midwest Manager, Rebecca will oversee all program development, management and partnerships in the Midwest region. In Detroit, will be working closely with the JCRC/AJC, the Jewish Federation, and the JCC as well as with schools, synagogues and organizations in the area.

For the inaugural year in Detroit, Rebecca says, Hartman will focus primarily on Israel engagement — giving people the tools to have difficult conversations about potentially divisive issues. She will be working with JCRC/AJC to bring the Hartman iEngage program to lay leaders, and will use the newest iEngage series – specifically designed to grapple with difficult but important issues related to relationships between Jews in Israel and North America – to help Jewish educators foster a sense of peoplehood.  Jewish communal professionals will engage in meaningful conversations around courageous leadership, and three public lectures are planned that will be open to the general community.

Detroit and Hartman have many connections that this new initiative builds upon:

  • Starr’s husband, Rabbi Aaron Starr of Congregation Shaarey Zedek, and Rabbi Ariana Silverman of the Downtown Synagogue are members of Cohort VII of the  Rabbinic Leadership Initiative , a national cohort of rabbinic leaders learning together at Hartman over a three-year period
  • Rabbi Asher Lopatin of Kehillat Etz Chayim is a member of Hartman faculty and a graduate of the first RLI cohort, as well as the newly appointed Director of the JCRC/AJC locally.  
  • Former Jewish Federation head Scott Kaufman studied in the Hartman Community Leadership Program in summer of 2019
  • Joel Tauber is a Hartman board member and former president of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit
  • Amira Soleimani, an administrator at Hillel Day School, participated in the Master Educator’s program in Jerusalem
  • Hartman’s Vice President of Rabbinic Initiatives Rabbi Lauren Berkun, a well-respected educator, worked in Detroit for many years while her husband was the rabbi at Congregation Shaarey Zedek

What People Are Saying:

Scott Kaufman, former CEO of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit

“Given the complexity of many of the challenges we currently face,  having the expertise of the Hartman Institute on the ground in Detroit to help  our communal professionals, volunteers,  clergy and young adults develop the tools and methodology to have  difficult conversations without demonization or creating barriers is essential if we are to maintain the sense of community and collective responsibility that has been a defining strength of Jewish Detroit for generations.”

Joel Tauber, Hartman board member and former president of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit

“Detroit Federation is very advanced and sophisticated: one of the outstanding federations in the country. It’s totally appropriate that the Shalom Hartman Institute, one of the most advanced and sophisticated education institutions from North America and Israel is coming here to work in the Jewish community. It’s the right time for the right match.”

Rabbi Lauren Berkun, Vice President of Rabbinic Initiatives, Shalom Hartman Institute of North America

“Detroit is a special community — a sophisticated, deep-thinking and tightly knit, cohesive community. It’s a beautiful model of what a thriving community looks like.

It’s also a learning community, thirsty for thirsty for high-level Torah study. As a hub for Hartman’s Midwest region it will be an ideal city for training thought leaders. Already committed to learning, Detroit is a community ripe for even greater heights and to share in a vision of the Jewish future.”

Rachel Jacoby Rosenfield, Executive Vice President, Shalom Hartman Institute of North America

“The Shalom Hartman Institute of North America is excited and honored to be partnering with the William Davidson Foundation and the Detroit Jewish community.  The strength of the Detroit Jewish community and their leadership make this an ideal community to partner with in addressing the most critical challenges facing Jewish life and building toward a future of meaning and purpose.”

Rebecca Starr, Midwest Manager, Shalom Hartman Institute of North America

“I am thrilled to be able to continue my work in adult Jewish learning through The Shalom Hartman Institute.  The Detroit Jewish community is filled with committed learners who are always searching for more.  The scholars, faculty members, and curricula associated with Hartman will add a great deal as we continue to ask challenging and relevant questions for today’s Jews.” 

For more information:

Rebecca Starr, Midwest Manager, Shalom Hartman Institute of North America [email protected]


The Shalom Hartman Institute is a leading center of Jewish thought and education, serving Israel and North America. Our mission is to strengthen Jewish peoplehood, identity and pluralism, enhance the Jewish and democratic character of Israel, and ensure that Judaism is a compelling force for good in the 21st century. 

You care about Israel, peoplehood, and vibrant, ethical Jewish communities. We do too.

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