Keep your eye on these young people making a positive impact on the Jewish community.
We are proud to announce this year’s Rising Stars: Teens Making a Difference! These 18 remarkable teens were selected by judges chosen by the JCC for their incredible achievements and for the positive impact they are making on others and in the community.
Detroit Jewish News, the JCC of Metropolitan Detroit, Jfamily, and the Youth Professionals Network, who partnered on the project, had planned to announce these Rising Stars in April, but — like so many other things in 2020 — our plans were derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The JCC and our community of youth-serving organizations are pleased to once again partner with the Detroit Jewish News to recognize 18 outstanding teens making a positive impact on our world,” said Director of Teen Engagement, JCC of Metropolitan Detroit, Katie Vieder.
“A lot of the news we see related to teens can be really negative, focusing on the challenges and problems youth experience or cause. We are excited to place the focus on the positive and shine a light on the kindness, innovation and leadership we see in our teens. These youth are doing amazing things, and they deserve to have their voices heard and their accomplishments recognized.”
The JN team is also excited to showcase these accomplished young people in our pages. “This might be the first time you hear these names,” said JN Associate Editor Jackie Headapohl,” but it definitely won’t be the last. I’m confident we’ll be hearing more from them in the future as they continue on their paths of being shining lights in the Jewish community.”
Without further ado, please meet the Metro Detroit Jewish community’s Rising Stars of 2020.
Carly, 17, of West Bloomfield is a senior at Bloomfield Hills High School. She is a member of Temple Israel, YFTI and BBYO. She has been one of the Madrichim (teenage guides) at Temple Israel since ninth grade. Carly has been on her BBYO chapter’s executive board for three years and participated in a BBYO Entrepreneurship program. She was selected to be on the Jewish Fund Teen Board, where she has been learning about philanthropy and engaging in grant making in the Jewish community. Carly is also a member of the UMatter Board.
In the West Bloomfield community, Carly has participated in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life by volunteering for several years and, since ninth grade, has been a teen coordinator for the event and recruits other teens to volunteer at Relay for Life.
At Bloomfield Hills High School, Carly is a member of Yearbook. She also serves on the board of the Key Club, a volunteer organization that raises money for charitable causes. Carly has participated in DECA for the past two years, a group that prepares students in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. Carly participated in a DECA state competition in March. She is also a member of the Jewish Student Alliance and the National Honor Society.
Jonah, 16, of Farmington Hills, is now a junior at the Interlochen Arts Academy. He had attended North Farmington High School up until his junior year and plans to return for his senior year. Jonah and his family are members of Temple Israel, where he is a member of YFTI. Jonah is an all-A student who maintains a rigorous schedule, participating in many clubs and the ski racing team.
Jonah’s true passion is music. He plays the piano and cello and composes classical music as well. He earned a scholarship to attend Interlochen, where he is majoring in music composition and continuing his study of piano and cello as well as more traditional academic studies. While at home, Jonah studies composition with a graduate student from U-M, takes weekly private lessons on both of his instruments and plays the cello in both his school orchestra and the Detroit Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra.
Jonah has also participated in summer composition programs at Interlochen and the Curtis Institute of Music. He has had several of his original works performed and recorded and has won several competitions for young composers. While home, Jonah also participates in Monday night school at Temple Israel and serves as one of the Madrichim each Sunday.
Morgan, 16, of West Bloomfield is a junior at the International Academy and a member of Temple Shir Shalom, where she belongs to SSTY. Morgan is not the kind of student that cares about what the “cool kids” are doing, she just cares about what the right thing to do is, say the leaders at Shir Shalom. “She is accepting of everyone that crosses her path and, although she can be soft spoken, it is because she is a deep thinker,” they note.
Morgan not only worked hard to go to International Academy but pushes the boundaries of her schedule by involvement with Biff Radio at Bloomfield Hills High School and the International Academy News. She is on the Jewish Federation Teen Board and is the social action vice president of SSTY.
She is a writer for her school newspaper, and she still finds time to pursue music, playing piano competitively for the MSBOA solo and ensemble, the Federation Competition at Schoolcraft College and the American Guild of Music Regional Festival.
Elisha, 18, of West Bloomfield, graduated from Frankel Jewish Academy this year. She is a member of Adat Shalom Synagogue. At FJA, Elisha was involved in the National Honor Society, was the captain of both the Girls Varsity Soccer and Girls Varsity Basketball teams and founded the Girls Basketball Club. She was chosen by the head of the science department to be his lab assistant and a student chemistry tutor. Elisha also coordinated a school-wide fundraiser for the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, an organization that supports a cause that is very important to her personally.
Last year, she spent her summer interning for FRIENDS of Jewish Senior Life and was later chosen by FJA as one of the eight high school students to present at the Eight Over Eighty event at Jewish Senior Life. She also attended the RoboTraffic competition at the Technion in Israel last year with the FJA Robotics Team, winning first place for her and a fellow student’s design of a fuel injector, which the judges deemed “professional quality.”
Outside of school, Elisha is a technology tutor, helping an elderly couple with any technology questions they may have. She was the vice president of the Teen Volunteer Corps at Adat Shalom Synagogue, as well as an event chairperson for Tech Connect at Adat Shalom and a three-year Madricha. She was also a two-year Teen Board Member for the Jewish Fund and a Because We Care Fellowship Board Member with Jewish Family Service. She was also a two-year member of the JSERVE Teen Board and a recent first-place winner of the National Council of Jewish Women essay scholarship competition.
Alyssa, 18, of Commerce Township recently graduated from Walled Lake Northern High School. Since she was in the eighth grade, she has been a Madricha (teen teacher assistant) at the Adat Shalom-Beth Achim Learning Community. She is passionate about helping kids with special needs learn Hebrew and actively participate in the community.
In addition to actively participating in Madrichim trainings, she has participated in the JCC Opening the Doors community-wide Madrichim Leadership Training program since eighth grade. She is always willing to help others and solve problems and is passionate about being Jewish and nurturing Jewish kids’ identities.
Because of her experiences at Adat Shalom and through the Opening the Doors program, she is now majoring in education with a focus on special education at Eastern Michigan University.
Micah, 18, of Southfield, graduated this past June from Farber Hebrew Day School. With his family, Micah is a member of Young Israel of Oak Park, as well as being an active member of NCSY and B’nei Akiva. Last summer, he worked at Camp Stone assisting in daily operations and general maintenance. Last year, he served as the regional vice president for Central East NCSY while also serving as the president of the Detroit Executive Board.
At Farber, he was the president of the student government and a former grade representative. Micah participated in Model U.N. for multiple years, even serving as the captain during his senior year, and represented the school at the annual AIPAC policy conference. Additionally, he was editor-in-chief of the school yearbook and team captain of the varsity basketball team.
He was the commissioner for two years of the David Tanzman Memorial Tournament, a varsity basketball tournament that honors the legacy of a founding member of Yeshivat Akiva-Farber HDS, David Tanzman. The annual tournament was initially started by his brother, Ari, three years ago with four teams. Micah has since expanded the tournament to a total of six teams this past year.
Micah is a true leader and has been devoted to making a difference as a community leader. Throughout high school, Micah was extremely active in NCSY as a youth leader who works hard to help other teens see the beauty in Judaism and increase their involvement. Micah has an entrepreneurial spirit and has always looked for ways to help create new programs in his school and the wider community. Micah is now in Israel, learning at Yeshivat Orayta.
Lexie, 18, works tirelessly to improve her community and help those around her. She is a recent graduate of Bloomfield Hills High School where she was president of her senior class. During her high school career, she worked with teachers, school administration and fellow students to promote events to address mental health, bullying and student safety as well as coordinate fundraisers and spirit and political-awareness activities. Her tremendous work ethic led to her being selected as the first intern for the Bloomfield Hills School District Board of Education. She was instrumental in representing the student voice during the selection of a new superintendent.
During high school, Lexie founded and operated two charities. “BYOD” (Bring Your Own Dog) is an annual fundraising event held at the Village of Franklin park each spring, raising money and facilitating five pet adoptions in 2019 alone. Her Project 1:1 idea grew out of a school assignment and has led to the donation of hundreds of hand-crafted bracelets, money and notes of encouragement to pediatric patients at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. Lexie is also a certified volunteer at the Friendship Circle.
Currently, Lexie is studying at U-M where she was accepted into the Ross School of Business and the Michigan Community Scholars Program.
Emily, 17, of Royal Oak is a senior at Berkley High School and member of Temple Shir Shalom, SSTY and BBYO. According to the youth professional at Shir Shalom, “Emily is one of the most responsible teens we have in our program. She volunteers when no one else does, and I can always depend on her to do what she says she is going to.”
Emily was formerly the Mazkirah for her BBG chapter, the secretary of SSTY board and a PeerCorps mentor. She is also a member on the Peer to Peer Board and participates in the Link program. She was the JV Tennis captain (2020) at Berkley High School, is a member of NHS and is on the highest honor roll. She is a member of HOSA and a graduate of the Perry Outreach Initiative for aspiring doctors. Emily is also a Tamarack camper and was on its teen board.
She enjoyed her service trips to the Dominican Republic in both 2019 and 2020. In addition, amid the pandemic, Emily volunteered with Brilliant Detroit by tutoring children in Detroit.
Jack, 17, now a senior at Frankel Jewish Academy, of West Bloomfield, is an active participant in Masa Teens, TBE’s Religious School program, and BETY, its youth group, and he volunteers his time on Sundays as a Madrich in the religious school office. One of Jack’s best qualities is his drive to always learn more. He is constantly asking questions on a wide variety of topics, from interpreting Biblical texts to translating Hebrew.
In addition to his involvement at Temple Beth El, Jack is very involved with student government at FJA and is the all-school president. Jack is also a member of the National Honor Society at FJA and a member of the tennis, quiz bowl and robotics teams.
Last year, Jack helped make the notice of nondiscrimination policy for FJA more inclusive. Jack’s biggest accomplishment was creating the young activist group, Queer Not Quiet, or QNQ. QNQ is a group of young activists that meet to discuss their experiences regarding their identities. Under Jack’s leadership, this group of young people has begun meeting to share experiences and support each other in a safe space. They can be followed on Instagram.
Jaden, 17 of Southfield is a senior at Farber Hebrew Day School and member of Tiferes Nachman, NCSY and B’nei Akiva. At the young age of 16, Jaden saved a life. On July 16, 2019, while on a summer program called Hatzalah Rescue, Jaden found himself using his newly learned lifesaving procedures while on an ambulance run in the Israeli city of Bat Yam. He arrived on the scene to find an 80-year-old man unconscious with CPR in progress. Jaden took over performing CPR, and when other EMTs at the scene told him he could stop and were ready to call the man’s death, Jaden insisted on continuing compressions. Jaden’s persistence paid off and the man’s heartbeat returned. Jaden received a medallion from United Hatzalah of Israel celebrating his first life save as an EMR (Emergency Medical Responder).
Jaden is also a member of the National Honor Society and a Dale Carnegie Alumnae (he does have a dual curriculum at Farber Hebrew Day School). He is currently the student council treasurer. Jaden is one of two teens chosen in the state of Michigan to be a StandWithUs high school intern. He has been a delegate for the Yeshiva University National Model United Nations for the past three years.
He participated in the Chidon HaTanach (National Bible Competition) in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Jaden is also a member of the Jewish Scholars Program and after-school Kollel learning. Jaden is also a PeerCorps, AIPAC and Bookstock volunteer and tutors students in math and science.
Ian, 15, now a sophomore at North Farmington High School who lives in Farmington Hills, has brought a breath of fresh air to YFTI at Temple Israel. As a freshman, Ian became a song leader at YFTI and brought a new way to celebrate Shabbat and Havdalah. Ian now serves as the Jewish Programming Chair of YFTI and participates in weekly Monday night music class, learning to perfect his skills and find new songs and tunes to bring to his youth group.
Ian has taken every opportunity to be a leader with his voice and his guitar. Ian heard about a music and leadership weekend presented by the URJ and wanted to be a part of this experience to better YFTI’s ruach and rhythm. He was one of 10 teens to take part of the URJ’s Nashir: Song Leading for Action, where he led Shabbat services for more than 500 Jewish teens. Ian took that energy from the leadership cohort and came home to lead YFTI’s Ski Trip weekend in music and celebration. Ian’s example as YFTI’s teen song leader has created more participation in services, a new energy to YFTI and a resurgence in teens wanting to help lead services.
Along with his involvement in YFTI, Ian is an active member of BBYO and has also been on five regional committees and is the vice president of the Jewish Student Union at North Farmington High School.
Mia, 16, who is a senior at Seaholm High School, is a member of Temple Israel and is actively involved with BBYO and PeerCorps, a part of Repair the World that works with young Jewish teens using Jewish values to try to bridge the gap between the city of Detroit and the suburbs. The Birmingham resident volunteered every week at a community garden and helped tutor kids in Detroit. She is also a member of the Jewish Fund Teen Board, where she works on philanthropy and making a difference to help others.
At Seaholm, she was on the board for the Jewish Culture Club, which tried to educate their mostly Christian school about Jewish values by creating opportunities such as bringing in Holocaust survivors and holiday events. She was also active in the American Sign Language Club and Crafts 4 Kids (making crafts for cancer patients in hospitals).
In BBYO, she is the vice president of Dora Savage BBG and ran as a candidate for Student of the Year for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, running a campaign to raise $15,000 for blood cancer patients and research. She was also a member of NHS and studies hard to keep a near-perfect grade point average, overcoming struggles with dyslexia.
Cara, 17, has had to deal with some of the most stressful events while maintaining a positive attitude, strong academics, being community service-minded and serving as a positive role model for both adults and kids.
This senior at Farber Hebrew Day School had a malignant brain tumor when she was in second grade and then again when she was in fourth grade. She had chemotherapy, proton beam radiation and a stem cell transplant. She missed a lot of school and continues to deal with the effects of the tumor and its treatments. Despite that, she became involved in the community as a youth group leader, a Torah and Megillah reader and as a “motivational” speaker as a cancer survivor both in her schools and synagogues.
Cara, who lives in Huntington Woods, is also a co-chair of B’nei Akiva Detroit where she plans activities and supervises counselors. She is a group leader, greeter, kiddush setter-upper, and all-around volunteer at her synagogue, Kehillat Etz Chayim. She volunteers at Friendship Circle, serves on the Jewish Fund Teen Board and continues to be involved in Chai Lifeline, an organization serving kids with serious life-threatening illnesses and their families.
Isaac, 18, of West Bloomfield, graduated from West Bloomfield High School in 2020 and now attends the University of Michigan where he looks to study philosophy, political science and economics. He is a member of Temple Shir Shalom.
At school, Isaac was a school ambassador and student member of the administration. He achieved the Outstanding Civics Student award in 2019. Isaac was an active member of DECA, a business competition program, where he was recognized as the State Champion in the Retail Merchandising Series Event, received an Award of Excellence in the Mathematics Examination in the Retail Merchandising Series at the state level and an Award of Excellence for all standards of performance in the Retail Merchandising Series at the international level. At West Bloomfield High School, he was a member of the National Honor Society, a staff writer for the school newsmagazine, co-president of the WBHS Yoga Club and the Earth Club Executive Chair of Policy and Communications. Additionally, he won the Dale Carnegie Highest Award for Achievement in 2018.
He was happy to have worked during high school, which has included an internship with Robin Schwartz PR, a robotics internship at Lawrence Technological University (where he focused on artificial intelligence, coding and autonomous vehicles), and freelance work (babysitting, auto detailing, lawn work, etc.). He is currently growing his photography business.
Isaac has given back to the community through over 100 hours of community service, including serving youth in the After School Program in Detroit at an underprivileged school, working with the Adat Shalom Teen Volunteer Corps and with J-Serve, providing tech help to the elderly, and tutoring students at school. He won the Youth Volunteer Leadership Award of Greater West Bloomfield in 2018 and 2020.
Hannah, 16, of West Bloomfield, is a junior at West Bloomfield High School and member of Keter Torah and BBYO, and she spends her summers at Camp Tamarack. She is very passionate and involved in many sports at her school from field hockey to tennis to basketball.
She has been involved in student leadership at her high school and is currently on the leadership executive board as the treasurer. She is a member of the “Upstander Committee,” which takes a strong stance against bullying making sure everyone “matters.” She is a member of the Federation Jewish Teen board where she works on allocating funds to various philanthropic organizations. Her dream is to help make a difference in the availability of funds and programs in our community for mental health.
She is part of her school’s HOSA Club, Jewish Club and the Martin Luther King Jr. Club. Through the Martin Luther King Jr. club, Hannah helped emcee the “United We Stand” WBHS event for the community. She helped to lead a march down Orchard Lake Road. Hannah was the HOSA first-place winner in December, the Health Occupations Students of America and went on to compete at the state level.
Hannah, 18, of Farmington Hills, graduated from the Frankel Jewish Academy this year with a 3.5 GPA. Hannah is attending Lawrence Technological University where she plans to study architecture and design and join the volleyball and bowling teams. She is a member of Temple Shir Shalom and BBYO. Hannah was nominated because she is “caring, loving, compassionate, hardworking, artistic, athletic, a good friend, respectful, a loving daughter, loves being Jewish, and loves animals and music.”
The biggest obstacle Hannah had to overcome is anxiety and confidence, and she has dealt with this with grace. Hannah has been part of the volleyball, soccer and boys’ bowling teams at school and, this year, she held the title “captain” for the volleyball and bowling teams. Hannah is coaching club volleyball for 12-year-olds because her age group was not available. Hannah has a talent for art. Many of her pieces over the years have been recognized. For the past three years, she has volunteered at an art camp and last summer acted as a counselor.
Hannah is a recipient of the Stars of Tomorrow Michigan Jewish Sports Foundation Scholarship in honor of Steve Rosen, and the winner of the Kappy Family Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel Art and Writing Competition through the Holocaust Memorial Center. She was also recognized as MVP for both volleyball and bowling and won Female Athlete of the Year at Frankel Jewish Academy, receiving a scholarship from the Doris J. and Donald L. Duchene Sr. Foundation.
Lauren, 18, of Huntington Woods, graduated from Berkley High School in 2020 and is a member of Adat Shalom Synagogue, where she is one of the Tri-Presidents of the Teen Volunteer Corps. She loves to volunteer and help organizations in the Jewish community and in Metro Detroit. She is dedicated to helping teens experience meaningful volunteer projects and is a positive role model for others. She finds comfort through writing and art. Last year, she won the Cohn-Haddow Center for Judaic Studies community-wide essay competition. Her winning piece, titled “A Once Blinded Jewish Woman,” grapples with the fact that the leaders of the Women’s March have been seen condoning antisemitism and how Lauren finds her identity as a Jewish woman.
Lauren has also been open about her struggles with mental health. Few teens have the courage to share their challenges like Lauren has. Only a few years ago, she found out that she was diagnosed with a learning disability. Instead of thinking about it as a problem, this diagnosis helped her understand herself better and determine what she needs to be healthy. She shared her story at the UMatter “One Thing I Wish You Knew” program with the hopes that it would help someone else who was struggling.
Lauren is also an entrepreneur. A few years ago, Lauren and longtime friend Julie Krasnick started Ba-Gals, a Sunday morning bagel delivery service in Huntington Woods and Berkley. She is the co-CEO and has worked hard to grow the business and has trained teens to run the company while she attends Michigan State University. Lauren will be studying at MSU’s Lyman Briggs College in hopes of majoring in neuroscience and attending medical school one day.
Joey, 16, of Huntington Woods, is a junior at Farber Hebrew Day School and a member of Young Israel of Oak Park (YIOP), B’nei Akiva and NCSY. He is a religious leader or gabbai of the teen minyan at YIOP, and a teen counselor and programmer for B’nei Akiva youth. The kids love his fun spirit and playfulness at their weekly youth groups and events.
Joey ran cross country last fall for Farber, plays basketball for Farber, and hockey for Royal Oak ice arena. He has stayed committed to hockey, despite being Sabbath-observant and having to regularly give up ice time for religious beliefs. Joey has maintained a 3.8 GPA despite having a dual curriculum and was recently inducted into the National Honor Society. He also attends optional extra Gemara classes at school every Thursday night. His teachers enjoy his unique insights and quick mind.
At the beginning of his sophomore year Joey was diagnosed with a seizure disorder. Despite the challenges this diagnosis posed, he never let it stop him from doing any team sports, physical activities like rafting and ropes course, class trips or community work.
Joey was the first local student to participate in the Discovery for a Cure summer internship through Wayne State University program, which introduces students passionate about science to advanced laboratory research so they can help be part of scientific treatment and cures. This summer, Joey participated in a STEM competition through Wayne State University and his team won first place by devising an app to make mental health services more widely available for all.