Each month, The Well highlights an amazing (and eligible!) individual. The Well has agreed to share its Q & As with these amazing singles with the JN. This month, The Well has a conversation with NJP Marlee Shifman.

By Marisa Meyerson, Special to the Jewish News

Featured photo courtesy of The Well

Q: How did you decide to make your adult life in Metro Detroit?
MS: I am from Farmington Hills, born and raised, so my intent from the get-go was to stay in the Detroit area. I majored in film and video studies at Western Michigan University, and my original goal was to stay in the area for the up-and-coming Michigan film industry, but we all know how that worked out. I thought about just up and moving to Los Angeles when the film incentives fell through but decided being close to family was too important for me to leave without trying to make something work here. I naturally fell into a career working with Jewish nonprofits in the development, marketing and communications departments, and I have no regrets about sticking around.

Q: You spend your days working as the marketing and communications associate at Frankel Jewish Academy — tell us more!
MS: I am more than six months into my role at FJA, and I couldn’t be more proud to work for such an amazing school filled with wonderful faculty, staff and students. I run the school’s social media accounts, send out communications to parents, students and community members, as well as take photos and videos to help showcase FJA. I am excited to go to work every day because this role allows me to dive into my creativity, and that is something I have been craving in my work life.

Q: Before FJA you were working at Jewish Vocational Services. What do you love about working in the Jewish community?
MS: Being Jewish has always been a major part of my identity. Although I am not the most observant, I try to keep up with the traditions and the cultural aspects of being Jewish. When I was in Kalamazoo, there wasn’t a very large Jewish community, especially compared to Metro Detroit, so while I was there, I felt the lack of community, especially because I was previously involved in organizations such as BBYO and Shir Shalom Monday night school; so without that connection for four years, I missed that sense of a Jewish community. I knew when I moved back I wanted to be involved, and it ended up working out that I was able to make this into a career. I feel much more connected immersing myself in a Jewish organization five days a week.

Q: In your spare time, you also work as a freelance photographer. What kinds of photos are your specialty?
MS: I love taking photos of people … there is nothing like capturing genuine emotion through the lens. If you know me, you know that I am an extremely social person and I love making connections with other people. It is definitely my “thing.”

Q: It certainly seems like the arts/creative endeavors are a big part of your life. How did those passions come about?
MS: Definitely a right-brainer over here! I have always been into any kind of art (when I was little, I apparently could sit with a coloring book for hours). My passions started in high school when I took photography classes and worked with the school’s television station. Along with just loving the subjects, the teachers made a lasting impact on me. Shout out to Mr. Deeb and Mr. Cobb!

Q: What’s your favorite book and what about it moves you?
MS: So, this is a little funny but it is true, I have never been able to sit down and read a series of books … other than the Harry Potter books. To this day, they’re still my favorites. I couldn’t put them down! The whole journey and the mind of JK Rowling is just …wow.

Q: What’s your funniest childhood story?
MS: None of my funniest childhood stories are appropriate to publish but get to know me and I will gladly oblige!

Q: What fictional place would you most like to travel to and why?
MS: Definitely Diagon Alley … but, thankfully, I can go to Universal and kind of make my dreams come true!

Q: How do you like to give back to the community/others?
MS: I enjoy doing little things that make people smile, like noticing someone’s new haircut and complimenting them on it or something as simple as just holding the door for someone. It’s the little things that can make someone’s day.

Q: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday and why?
MS: I love Rosh Hashanah because my parents usually host and I get to spend the day with them and help out. Not to mention, Dina’s brisket is the best brisket.

Q: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
MS: There were a lot of times that I doubted myself (getting into college, graduating from college, going through something that I didn’t think I would ever get over), but I have proven myself wrong every time and always come out stronger than ever.

Q: Would you rather win an Olympic Medal (for what sport?), an Academy Award (in what category?) or Nobel Prize (in what)?
MS: Academy Award, Best Supporting Actress. I am usually behind camera, but people have asked if I act before … I think it is just because I am animated and maybe a little goofy. I think I would make an awesome supporting actress.

Q: Best movie ever made, hands down?
MS: It is really hard to choose just one, but one that comes to mind is The Red Violin. I think it is a really underrated movie and the story is truly incredible.

Q: How about a fun fact?
MS: I am pretty competitive when it comes to any type of game … I can definitely beat anyone in Boggle.

Read more at meetyouatthewell.org. Want to meet Marlee? Email Rabbi Dan Horwitz at dan@meetyouatthewell.org for an introduction.

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