Jane and Larry Sherman’s house in Bloomfield Hills reflects their interests in art, Israel and antiquities.
Photos courtesy of Brett Mountain
By Judith Harris Solomon
Jane and Larry Sherman’s 3-year-old Bloomfield Hills home, designed by architects Denise and George Hartman and constructed by custom builder Joel Lerman, faces a water refuge that is continually teeming with interesting wildlife. And the home’s stunning interior, designed by Patti Kelter of Kelter Schwartz Design, is brimming over with exciting collections of both contemporary art and Judaic antiquities.
Holding a place of honor in the living room is an oil painting of the Judean Hills outside of Jerusalem by famous Israeli artist Yossi Stern that the couple purchased in 1962.
“It the first piece of art we bought together, and it cost $60,” Jane says.
Jane, a champion golfer, wife, mother of three, grandmother of 10 and great-grandmother of three, is the daughter of the late Max M. Fisher, iconic Detroit-area philanthropist and businessman whose financial contributions as well as sage counseling on the local, national and international scene are legendary — and she has continued to build upon that legacy.
“My very first Jewish memory goes back to 1947 when I was just 9 years old,” she says. “We were living at the Lee Plaza Hotel in Detroit and listening, on an old-fashioned radio, to a vote that was going on at the United Nations to decide whether Israel should be recognized.”
Larry Sherman, now retired, was the owner of 25 Sherman Shoes stores, a company started by his father in 1925. He is also the founder of the Birmingham PSD (Principal Shopping District), an official agency responsible for the advertising, marketing and promotion of downtown Birmingham.
And the native Detroiter shares Jane’s passion for philanthropy, especially when it comes to Israel.
Notable Art Pieces
Looking at the art found inside and outside their home, Larry says he is particularly fond of renowned glass sculptor Dale Chihuly’s oil painting of a vase being fired that the couple purchased in Aspen in 1990.
Jane’s favorite artwork is Kehinde Wiley’s dynamic and colorful 4-foot oil painting of a haughty woman that hangs in the foyer. (Wiley is the artist who painted the official portrait of President Barack Obama that currently hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C.)
And the couple’s latest acquisition is the vibrant multicolored 10-foot powder-coated metal sculpture of a floral bouquet created by world-renowned sculptor Michael Kalish that has been placed in the lower garden.
Frequent trips to Israel over the past 40 years have inspired the Shermans’ keen interest in both Judaica and antiquities. For example, on the wall in the library, 17 wooden and glass shelves hold, among other things, a grouping of Canaanite bronze weapons presented to Jane’s father by Moishe Dayan as well as a collection of ancient mezuzahs, shofars and menorahs. And a spectacular Haggadah that includes serigraphs designed by Yaacov Agam, the Israeli sculptor and experimental artist best known for his contributions to optical and kinetic art, rests on a table nearby. Created in 1985, it is No. 3 of a limited edition of 180.
Another fascinating object is the bronze “hidden clock” that sits on a glass ledge in the dining area. It is a replica of a type of clock made long ago to hold, yet hide within, everything a family might need to celebrate Jewish holidays at a time when their observance was forbidden. It includes a Kiddush cup, candlesticks and Chanukah candles. “These types of clocks date back to the time that Jews were living in Spain,” Jane says.
Activism and Israel
Twenty years after listening to that U.N. vote for Israeli statehood with her father, after moving back to the Detroit area following a stint in Florida and at the end of the Six-Day War in Israel, Jane says she chose to become very involved locally, eventually serving as president of the Detroit Women’s Department of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit and raising money “to help with gathering immigrants, resettling the land, providing absorption facilities and job training because Israel was bogged down spending so much money on defense.”
She also became active raising money on a national scale, then traveling to Israel to see where the money was being spent. “I got very involved over there. My heart is in Israel … especially helping children at risk … and I continue to do that to this day,” she says.
Both the Shermans are particularly focused on aiding in the absorption of the many Ethiopian Jews who began migrating to Israel in the late ’80s and continue to do so now.
“Back in 1997, Larry and I took five Ethiopian kids who were living in foster homes under our wings. Today, we consider them part of our family and they have all become successful, viable citizens,” she says.
Other pet projects include the “Fisher Flight,” a national yearly program that teaches young couples with significant financial means about Jewish philanthropy; and Partnership 2000 (now called Partnership2Gether), a program that created partnerships between diaspora communities and regions in Israel. Detroit’s partnership, now celebrating 25 years, is with the Central Galilee region.
Along the way, Jane has also been involved with causes outside of the Jewish community, including being a board member of both the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado. She is currently active in helping to allocate money through the local Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, including to children who live in Brightmoor, a struggling area in Detroit that is rebounding through an alliance of more than 50 organizations.
Keeping both the Shermans’ lifestyles and interests in mind, their residence was designed to beautifully and graciously accommodate small Friday night family Sabbath dinners as well as larger social and/or charitable events. It is indeed a house that is a home.