Younger generations continue tradition of friendship and community-building.
Featured photo courtesy of the Shemtov Family
A family tradition that started more than 60 years ago has come full circle for the Shemtov family.
Bassie and Rabbi Levi Shemtov are the founders and co-directors of Friendship Circle in West Bloomfield. The nonprofit organization they started in 1994 provides assistance and life-changing support to 3,000 individuals with special needs and their families through recreational, social, educational and vocational programming.
The couple dedicated their lives to making the world a better place after growing up under the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. Their family history with the Rebbe goes back even further.
In 1958, Rabbi Schneerson himself dispatched Bassie’s parents, Rabbi Berel and Batsheva Shemtov, to Michigan as his first U.S. emissaries with the mission to spread Judaism to every corner of the world. Today, Chabad centers can be found in thousands of locations worldwide.
Now, a new generation is carrying on the family tradition. Three of Rabbi Berel and Batsheva’s granddaughters have moved home and opened Chabad Centers in Bloomfield Hills, Troy and Royal Oak: Bassie and Levi’s daughters, Mushky Dubov, 24, and Chana Caytak, 21, and their cousin, Mushky Glitsenstein, 21.
“When you choose to open a Chabad house somewhere, it usually means you’re not near family. I get to do what I always wanted to do, and I get to live near family,” Mushky Dubov said. “I look at my grandmother; she came from Russia to New York, married my grandfather, and they took a train to Detroit, barely knowing how to speak English. They came here believing in what they could accomplish — and we’re continuing that legacy.”
Mushky and her husband, Rabbi Levi Dubov, moved home from Brooklyn in 2016 to open the Chabad Jewish Center of Bloomfield Hills. Her sister, Chana, moved from Brooklyn back to Metro Detroit last year and opened the Chabad Jewish Center of Troy with her husband, Rabbi Menachem Caytak. Mushky and her husband, Rabbi Moishie Glitenstein, came home to run the Royal Oak Jewish Center.
“Levi and I never separated our family and our Friendship Circle life,” Bassie says. “Our children grew up with our work as part of their lives. It gives us a lot of naches to see them embrace the mission of being an emissary of the Rebbe, and it’s an extra bonus that they chose to come back to our community.”