Emily Rosberg with Elaine and Eugene Driker

Wayne State graduate Emily Rosberg earns Driker award for her essay about the journey she endured to find her own Jewish identity.

By Emily Rosberg, jewish@edu writer

Since I was a young child, I’ve had a reputation in the Jewish community. Being the only blonde youth (aside from my younger brother, of course) at synagogue made me an easy target. Every Sunday morning, I could be found climbing out of any Shaarey Zedek window trying to escape being held captive by my Hebrew teachers. Since those days, I’ve exchanged windows for doors. This time, they are all entrances rather than an exit.

Although I grew up attending Shaarey Zedek Hebrew School and Tamarack Camps, my connection to the Jewish community was purely because of my parents. My mother often took me to Saturday services on top of my Sunday mornings spent in Hebrew school. It was crucial to them that I was raised Jewish and was involved, but it wasn’t until later that I realized how truly important Jewish involvement was to me. As I moved out of my house and these things became optional, it became apparent that Jewish involvement would be a staple and pivotal part of my life.

Since moving to Detroit in the fall of 2015, I have walked through countless doors that have connected me to an incredible Jewish community here in Detroit. From Shabbos dinners at Chabad of Greater Downtown Detroit, peer-led events at Hillel of Metro Detroit or simply just going to my home at the Detroit City Moishe House, all the doors I have come through have been welcoming and full of opportunity.

When I discovered the historic doors of Chabad of Greater Downtown Detroit, I instantly felt connected to the community that grew inside the home. Since then, I have created and sat on a student board that puts on social events for Jewish students once a month. These events are all no-cost and hands-on and have become a staple among students in Detroit. I have become a regular at Shabbat dinners there twice a month, and I have been instrumental in recruiting my friends and other students to join me. You can always find me at the Chabad house documenting their events from behind my camera. Chabad in the D has truly become my “home away from home” as I have enjoyed celebrating numerous Shabbats and other Jewish holidays there.

The impact that Hillel of Metro Detroit has had on me since walking through those doors has been nothing short of incredible. I have participated in a multitude of their fellowship classes, learning the importance of Judaism in my everyday life, as well as how to stand up for our State of Israel.

With the help of Hillel, I was fortunate enough to attend AIPAC and travel to Washington, D.C., to learn even more about how we can advocate and spread love for Israel. This spring, HMD will help my brother and me experience Israel firsthand through the Detroit Community Birthright trip. I also am the current student representative on the Hillel of Metro Detroit board.

One of the most important things Hillel has provided me is my connection to Rabbi Michelle Faudem, who has been extremely influential in my Jewish journey. We have shared wisdom over coffee every Friday for many weeks, and she has taught me how to find my own voice within the Jewish community by keeping with tradition and adding my own spunk.

My Jewish involvement is widespread, and I really can’t even begin to count how many doors I’ve walked through, but I am thankful for each of them. From volunteering with Repair the World across the city, attending Tamarack Camps for 16 consecutive summers (first as a camper than as a counselor, supervisor and travel trip staff), working with The Well and Project Healthy Community, to countless other organizations across the city of Detroit, I am very proud of my involvement in the Detroit Jewish community.

To say I’ve come a long way from the windows of Shaarey Zedek would be an understatement. The beautiful, unique and fulfilling Detroit Jewish community that has been created is something I am honored to be a part of. I sincerely hope that there are many more doors I get to walk through in the future.

Emily Rosberg of Detroit is a recent graduate of Wayne State University.

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