Two weeks after Andrew and Elana Lofman were married in 1995, they headed for the island of Dominica, where he would pursue medical studies for two years and she would complete an independent project to finish bachelor’s degree requirements at Wayne State University.

The times were very happy, and the couple made many friends. They got to know the beauty of the beaches and the thrill of scuba diving, especially important for her as an exercise physiologist.

Sami, Andrew, Aliyah, Adin and Elana on Dominica in 2015

Over the next 20 years and while raising three children, the Lofmans of Farmington Hills liked to tell about island experiences and show treasured photos. Their children — Sami, Adin and Aliyah — were fascinated by the remote living and wanted to experience the island for themselves.
In 2015, after traveling on three planes required for the trip, the Lofman family toured an enhanced area.

There were more businesses, luxury accommodations and electronic connections that let them make arrangements to stay more closely in touch with Dominicans they knew well.
Then there were Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

“We learned how desperate our friends were, and we sent a carton filled with food and hygiene supplies,” Elana says. “We hoped it helped a little and wanted to do more for the island that had total destruction of its agricultural products and massive damage to its buildings.

“Aliyah’s bat mitzvah is taking place in January, and she quickly thought raising money for Dominica could be an important mitzvah project. The rest of us wanted to join in.

“We came up with the idea of a fundraising concert, and got the cooperation of Detroit Fleat in Ferndale, a new dining destination that promised a percentage of food service proceeds as donations. Entertainers are providing their talents free of charge, and we suggest $10 admission fees, but will welcome any amount.”

The food and the entertainment go from 1-5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 12, when guests will be offered an indoor facility surrounded by favorite food trucks — all available for variety and fun. There will be a raffle and auction that include CDs.

The entertainment roster features Sami, 16, who is known by her stage name, Sami Mei, a singer-songwriter performing in local shows and releasing recordings of her original music. Adin, 14, will play guitar as the two perform a song they wrote together.

Also on the program will be a long list of area singer-songwriters and musicians, including Barelyon, Holly Bernt, Lia K. Catallo, Greater Alexander, Emma Guzman, Kincer Studio Artists, Audra Kubat, Marbrisa, Anthony Retka and Emily Rose.

Aliyah’s fundraising concert to benefit Dominica runs
1-5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 12, at Detroit Fleat, 1820 E. Nine Mile, Ferndale.
(248) 881-1815

“As I become a bat mitzvah, I have learned through my Jewish education that helping others in need is a big part of our religion,” says Aliyah, a student at Hillel Day School in Farmington Hills.

“It makes me feel great to help the people of Dominica whose lives were so horribly affected by the hurricanes, especially the people known personally by my family.”

Aliyah looks back on a surprise during the family’s island visit. She discovered that a non-Jewish couple known by her parents gave their baby, just by chance, her given name. They did some research and liked its Hebrew meaning of “ascending.”

While Elana is taking care of the arrangements, Andrew is adding his ideas and encouragement.

“I am so proud that Aliyah — along with her sister and brother — want to help the people of Dominica in this way,” Andrew says. “Aliyah is a shining example of what a beautiful and compassionate heart can accomplish.”

Elana now keeps in touch with her Dominican friends over Facebook as connections allow.

“A lot of us in Oakland County recently found out directly what it means to get along without drinkable tap water, and the people in Dominica are trying to survive without so very much more,” Elana says. “I hope this event brings some relief.” •

Aliyah’s fundraising concert to benefit Dominica runs
1-5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 12, at Detroit Fleat, 1820 E. Nine Mile, Ferndale.
(248) 881-1815