Hilary Duberstein, Courtesy of Hilary Duberstein.

Hilary Duberstein looks to bring new life to the SAI. 

On July 6, the Board of the Sholem Aleichem Institute (SAI) announced that Hilary Duberstein has been appointed Director of the SAI.  

The SAI is a secular, non-political Jewish organization that brings educational, social and cultural activities to their members and the community by incorporating Yiddish, as well as English and Hebrew, into their programs, especially during the High Holidays. Some of their programs include assemblies during the High Holidays, speakers, panel discussion and the Moishe Haar programs. 

Duberstein earned her Master’s of Music in vocal performance from Indiana University. She has been in the Detroit Jewish community for almost 6 ½ years. Prior to coming to Michigan, Duberstein was the executive director and cantorial soloist for Moses Montefiore Temple in Bloomington, Illinois. 

Once she planted her roots in Waterford, Duberstein has worked within the Jewish education world for multiple different synagogues throughout the area. Currently, she is doing work for Shaarey Zedek through their virtual platforms and is also serving as the cantorial soloist and spiritual leader for Temple Beth El in Battle Creek. 

“I have kind of bounced around in different Jewish educational settings, teaching everything from early childhood through middle school,” Duberstein told the JN. “I have previously taught private voice lessons, helped with Shir Tikvah’s special needs program, taught third grade at Shir Shalom’s Sunday school program and prior to my job in Battle Creek, I was the cantorial soloist at Temple Kol Ami and also worked with their seventh graders to get them ready for their bar and bat mitzvahs.” 

With the SAI going on almost 94 years, Duberstein looks forward to revitalizing the organization and bringing it into a new life. 

“I was drawn to the history of the organization and was drawn to the idea of helping to rebuild the organization,” Duberstein said. “It has really had a metamorphosis and has brought the idea that you can be Jewish and be connected culturally, not just religiously.” 

Duberstein was also drawn to the SAI’s emphasis on music through their Moishe Haar programs, which honors the memory of their school principal and former institute director through music. 

As the director, Duberstein is in charge of overhauling the SAI’s website and getting them up and running on social media platforms. She hopes that their social media presence will help them also reach a different demographic that they haven’t reached before.  

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Duberstein is moving a lot of their normally scheduled programming to the virtual setting, including the High Holiday celebrations. This will be the first time in the program’s history that they will be offering virtual programming. 

“I would like to grow our membership and grow our programming. I would like to start implementing family-focused programming as well,” Duberstein said. “I would also like to connect the older generation of Yiddish speakers with the younger generation in a sort of a collaboration effort. The SAI brings a unique perspective to the Detroit Jewish community and I look forward to expanding and growing the SAI’s presence.” 

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