Basketball Conservative Judaism Detroit Education Jewish JTS

Bill Davidson

You couldn’t go anywhere in the Detroit area this past weekend without hearing people talk about Detroit Pistons owner Bill Davidson. Last Friday night the sad news was about former Pistons coach Chuck Daly announcing he has Pancreatic Cancer. This past Friday night the sad news was that “Mr. D” had died.

Bill Davidson, the owner of Guardian Industries (a worldwide glass manufacturer), bought the Detroit Pistons — a team that hadn’t shown a profit in 17 years — from Fred Zollner in 1974 for approximately six-million dollars (Davidson always said the reported seven-million dollar figure was overstated). The team is currently worth $480 million. He bought the team with his good friend Oscar Feldman, the team’s long time legal counsel (Current Advisory Board Members include Warren Coville, brother-in-law Bud Gerson, sister Dorothy Gerson, Ann Newman and William Wetsman).

Bill Davidson will be remembered as an innovator in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He was the first owner to fly his team on a private jet (“Roundball One”), sit court-side among the fans rather than in a private box or suite, and purchase a state-of-the-art arena (The Palace of Auburn Hills) with all private funds. Mr. Davidson was also the innovator of the co-branding and sponsorship marketing that has become commonplace inside NBA arenas.

Bill Davidson was not your typical billionaire (according to the Forbes list his net worth totals over $5.5 billion). He could have worn expensive custom-made Italian suits, but he preferred warm-up suits and Members-Only jackets.

With Mr. D in a conference room at the Guardian headquarters.

His philanthropic reach was enormous. Personally, I found that wherever I traveled on my own educational and professional journey there was Bill Davidson.

As a young student at Hillel Day School of Metropolitan Detroit, I sat in classrooms that were part of a wing that Mr. Davidson named for his children Ethan and Marla Davidson (this was the first renovation of the school’s Middlebelt campus). I studied for my master’s degree at the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. As a Jewish educator I’ve been part of continuing education programs in the Metro Detroit area through TEAM (Teacher Educator Advancement Model), a program of the Hermelin Davidson Center for Congregation Excellence. As a staff member of the University of Michigan Hillel Foundation, I worked in a building that was established because of the generosity of Mr. Davidson and many of his friends.

As a rabbi I have led groups in Israel to the Davidson Center for Exhibition and Virtual Reconstruction in the Jerusalem Archaeological Park, Israel’s most important antiquity site in the Old City of Jerusalem which was funded by Bill Davidson.

As a rabbi in Columbus, Ohio I was a guest at a dinner at the home of Les and Abigail Wexner for Jewish communal leaders to meet the newest class of Wexner Fellows and Davidson Scholars. In 2005, the Wexners launched the philanthropic partnership with William and Karen Davidson through the financial support of Guardian Industries Corp. This new partnership established an annual cohort of 10 Davidson Scholars as part of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship.

The Davidson school at the Seminary is a great example of Mr. Davidson’s philanthropic mission. He shared his thoughts about the vision of the school, but then allowed the school’s leadership to lead. He cared deeply about the students at the Davidson school and was eager to solicit their feedback. In January 2005 he invited the Davidson School’s alumni who live in Metro Detroit to his office at Guardian Industries to have lunch and discuss the school, Jewish education in general, and the future of the Conservative Movement (see blog post). It was evident that he did not merely want to endow a school; he wanted to make a significant difference in Jewish education. At the Davidson School it was not uncommon to hear fellow students refer to Bill Davidson as “Uncle Bill”.

At the Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield, I walk by his Jewish Sports Hall of Fame plaque (right) each time I walk into the fitness center to work out. Mr. Davidson was inducted into the Michigan Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in the organization’s first year. He was also inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 2008.

Bill Davidson’s philanthropy was immense. The University of Michigan, Jewish Theological Seminary, the Weizmann Institute, and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology all benefited from his great fortune. In 2007, Mr. Davidson donated the second largest gift ever devoted to a Jewish cause with his $75 million donation to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital. The hospital tower will be named for Davidson’s mother, Sarah Wetsman Davidson, a longtime Hadassah volunteer leader.

Regarding the Hadassah gift, Jonathan Aaron (Davidson’s assistant and son-in-law) was quoted in the Forward as saying, “Mr. Davidson doesn’t usually fund brick-and-mortar type projects, but here there was the history and the family ties.”

Detroit Free Press writer Mitch Albom summed up Mr. Davidson’s devotion to the State of Israel in his column yesterday. He wrote, “His love for the Jewish community and the state of Israel was unrivaled. As many tears are shed for his death in Detroit, there are likely that many falling in parts of the Holy Land. Davidson, who sometimes got on his private plane in pajamas and flew overnight to Tel Aviv, walked with the biggest names in that country. And his generosity — there, here and elsewhere — will be missed.”

This past December, Bill and Karen Davidson along with Jon and Mary Aaron invited all local alumni of the Jewish Theological Seminary to their suite at the Palace of Auburn Hills to watch the Detroit Pistons play. It was a very generous way for the Davidson family to acknowledge local rabbis, cantors, and educators. But more importantly, it gave all of us a chance to say “thank you” to this wonderful and kind man in his own home — in his Palace. Bill Davidson was a mentsch.

We’ll miss you Mr. D! Thank you for your immense contributions. Our world is a better place because of your generosity, demeanor, and leadership. May his family be comforted with the blessings of his memory.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |
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Sacred Space

I’ve been thinking a lot about sacred space recently. Of course, I give much thought to the concept of what makes a place holy (or sacred) whenever I am in Israel. At each turn one encounters a sacred location from Jewish history.

However, what turns a place that is generally considered to be a secular place into a sacred one?

Last week, after I taught my monthly class on Jewish business ethics at a Downtown Detroit law firm I began to drive back uptown to the suburbs. When I turned to get on the highway I saw the old Tiger Stadium in the distance. While Tiger Stadium hasn’t been used as the home field of the Detroit Tigers since the Tigers last played there on September 27, 1999, it is still very much on the minds of Detroiters and Tigers fans. Seeing the vacant stadium (or what’s left of it since some of it was demolished earlier this year) standing there at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull, I was lured to go pay a visit. I parked my car along the street where the Right Field wall once stood — the area where my favorite player Kirk Gibson used to defend the outfield. I got out and took some photos of the snow-covered park. I felt extremely nostalgic about the baseball stadium where I viewed my first Major League game (and many more after that).

There is much debate about what will become of the old Tiger Stadium, but no matter what it is used for (hopefully little league games) or how it is memorialized (hopefully a museum) there is no question that for me it is sacred space.

This is true of other places in my life as well. I’m sure that many years from now, the Palace of Auburn Hills (home to the Detroit Pistons for the past twenty years) will also become a sacred space to Pistons fans like me who have enjoyed watching them play there (even though I have fond memories of watching the Pistons play at the Pontiac Silverdome as well).

Some places have sentimental value because they haven’t changed much over the years. My oldest son is a preschool student in the exact same classroom where I was a preschool student at Adat Shalom Synagogue in the early 1980s. The classroom hasn’t changed much since then, so each time I walk in to drop him off for school I experience yet another flashback to my childhood. Of course, it has been transformed into a more modern classroom to keep pace with the educational advances of the past three decades. A few years ago I even taught a class in that same room for teenagers and found that to be a surreal experience (at least during the first class). That classroom is certainly a sacred space for me as it is the location where both my formal education and my first born child’s formal education commenced. Independent of the fact that it is in a holy place (synagogue), it still carries sacredness. It is sacred space.

In some cases, it is specifically the way in which a sacred space has been transformed that gives it meaning and value. In the case of the original location of the Detroit Holocaust Memorial Center (America’s First Freestanding Holocaust Memorial Center), the transformation is stark and conveys an interesting message. Several years ago, the Detroit Holocaust Memorial Center moved to a new location a few miles away leaving the JCC with the decision of what to do with the space. A new, state-of-the-art teen center now occupies the entire building where the Holocaust center was once located.

A couple days ago I was given a tour of the JCC’s new Beverly Prentis Wagner Teen Center (right) by director Lindsey Fox. It is a very impressive site with ping pong tables, foosball, Nintendo Wii spots, computer labs, a snack-bar, video games, and more. The fact that thousands of Jewish teens will now gather socially in a space once occupied by a memorial to the Holocaust was not lost on me. As soon as I entered the teen center I remembered the chill I felt each time I visited the Holocaust center. I remembered the buzzing sound of the lights above and the coldness of the brick walls. Certain things haven’t changed much in the space. The movie auditorium where I once viewed survivor testimonies looks the same — although now teenagers will watch High School Musical and Adam Sandler movies there. The small seating areas where I once watched films of the Nazi killing machine on small televisions will now be used for Jewish youth to play video games on flat screen monitors. And the conference room where Holocaust researchers once lectured will now be filled with Jewish youth group members eating pizza and socializing.

This is the best way to demonstrate that some sixty years since the end of the Holocaust the Jewish people have endured. This is a loud statement that the Nazi attempts to eradicate the Jewish people were unsuccessful.

A beloved baseball stadium left vacant that will soon be used for youth baseball. A nursery school classroom occupied by multi-generations. A Holocaust memorial center transformed into a Jewish teen center. Each of these is a sacred space transformed to preserve its sacredness.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |
Camp Detroit Jewish Sports

Forced Ritual

I haven’t posted in a while as I’ve been busy working at Camp Tamarack, getting ready for the campers to arrive later this month. However, I couldn’t resist commenting on S.L. Price’s wonderful column in the June 2, 2008 issue of Sports Illustrated titled “Seafood for Thought”.

Yesterday morning at Shabbat morning services at Tamarack I spoke to the camp supervisors about Jewish prayer ritual. I also compared the morning tefillot (prayer services) to playing a sport as the flow of the service moves from “suit-up” to “warm-up” to “practice” to “game-time” to “cool-down”. I spoke of how much of the ritual within prayer is spontaneous and that is precisely how it should be.

Al Sobotka OctopusIn S.I., Price remarks how the Detroit Red Wings ritual of octopus throwing during the playoffs at Joe Louis Arena (and Al Sobotka’s octopus twirling) is a spontaneous crowd ritual that should be preserved, contrary to the reprimands of commissioner Gary Bettman. Price contrasts this fifty-year-old ritual with the forced rituals of the 21st Century National Basketball Association where fans have to be instructed to yell “Dee-fense” by the JumboTron monitor.

I’ll take a Zamboni driver twirling an octopus on the ice any day over a halftime show of dancing clowns. And there is certainly something to be said of spontaneous rituals during the Jewish prayer service over a congregation of robots all being told that they should all point their pinky finger at the Torah (see Noam Neusner’s Jerusalem Post article “The Pinky Paradox”). There is room for directed ritual behavior, but there’s also something beautiful about spontaneity — whether at a prayer service at synagogue or camp… or on the ice at the “Joe”.

Congrats to the 2008 Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings!

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |
Detroit Jewish

Max Fisher Highway

The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit building in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan is appropriately named for Max M. Fisher, the Jewish businessman and philanthropist who died in 2005. In addition to the Federation building, the home of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (“The Max”) and The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business also bear his name.

Today, at a ceremony at the Fisher Building, Representative Joe Knollenberg dedicated a thirty-mile stretch of Telegraph Road as the “Max M. Fisher Memorial Highway”. I happened to be walking into work at Tamarack Camps (located in the Fisher Building) when the dedication ceremony was beginning and I took the photograph below. This is really a wonderful way to honor such a philanthropic, remarkable man.

Max Fisher Highway

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |
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Danny Nevins, Heksher Tzedek & Indiana Jew

There’s a nice article in the Detroit News about my rabbi, Danny Nevins. He will become the next dean of the Rabbinical School at the Jewish Theological Seminary this summer.

The sidebar of the article links to his personal website, the teshuvah (responsum) he co-authored on Homosexuality in Judaism, and even a Detroit News audio file of him being interviewed by the Detroit News reporter.

Of course, the author had to provide the requisite pessimism about Conservative Judaism: “Nevins comes to the position at a time when the population of Jews is declining in Metro Detroit and across the country. It also is a time when Conservative Judaism has lost some of its appeal as a logical alternative to the more liberal Reform Judaism and the strict interpretations of Orthodox Judaism.”

Thankfully, Rabbi Nevins countered this sentiment with an optimistic view of the Seminary’s objectives for the future. He said, “Every challenge is an opportunity, [and] I think at the Jewish Theological Seminary we are viewing this as an opportunity to re-examine our message, our structure and also the quality of what we are producing.” This positive outlook is exactly what the new chancellor, Arnie Eisen, has been preaching since accepting the chancellorship.

Perhaps the recent New York Times article about the Conservative Movement’s new Heksher Tzedek was the best news coverage Conservative Judaism has received in years. Kudos to Rabbi Morris Allen for working on making this new certification for food produced in a socially just way a reality.

I wouldn’t call it negative publicity, but I did find it funny that the History Channel‘s Josh Bernstein (“Indiana Jew”) explained that he didn’t go to JTS for rabbinical school because he was turned off by the fluorescent lights. In an article by Suzanne Kurtz on the Hillel website, the star of the hit show “Digging for the Truth” and the author of a book by the same name, describes studying Jewish texts at Pardes in Jerusalem for twelve hours a day.

“So satisfying was the [Pardes] experience, when his year of study was up, Bernstein paid a visit to the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York to see if rabbinical school might be his next move.

‘But the fluorescent lights ruined it for me,’ he explains. ‘I told the rabbis at Pardes I’m going to get my wisdom in the desert.’ Their reply: ‘It was good enough for the Patriarchs.’ “

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |
Detroit Pistons Sports

Pistons Bling for $15,000!

Proving once more that you can buy anything on eBay, there is a 2004 Detroit Pistons World Championship ring up for auction right now. The starting bid is $15,000 and the owner of the ring is listed as being from White Lake Township.

Just my personal opinion, but I think that if the owner of the ring were smart then he’d wait a couple weeks until the Pistons win another championship before auctioning the ring.

It would be interesting to know who’s ring this is and why they want to part with it.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |
Conservative Judaism Detroit Jewish Law JTS Rabbi

Rabbi Danny Nevins in the Detroit Jewish News

From the Detroit Jewish News
By Shelli Liebman Dorfman

Rabbi Daniel Nevins sees his new job as dean of the rabbinical school at the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary in New York as “both an honor and a challenge.”

The rabbi has served Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills for 13 years. He will begin his new post on July 1, moving to New York with his wife, Lynn, and their three children. The move also will take him nearer to his family in New Jersey.

“As dean, I will recruit and direct hundreds of new rabbis as they begin their journey of serving God and the Jewish people,” wrote Rabbi Nevins, 40, in a Jan. 29 letter to congregants of the 1,050-family synagogue. “Without doubt, it is the great reputation of Adat Shalom that inspired the JTS search committee to ask me to serve as dean of our movement’s oldest and largest rabbinical school.”

Of becoming the dean of the school from which he received rabbinic ordination in 1994, he said, “I am honored and excited by the opportunity to serve as Pearl Resnick dean,” Rabbi Nevins said. “I have had an extraordinary experience as rabbi of Adat Shalom Synagogue. I have experimented in the ultimate laboratory of Jewish life, learning what works through the prism of countless pastoral, intellectual and spiritual interactions with my congregation. I will miss my community, but I will take what I have learned from them to benefit the next generation of rabbis.” […]

Communal reaction to Rabbi Nevins’ new post is bittersweet.

Rabbi Jason Miller, who grew up at Adat Shalom and now serves Congregation Agudas Achim in Columbus, Ohio, said, “Danny is a rabbi’s rabbi and always seems to just ‘get it.’ When I was in rabbinical school at JTS, my classmates would ask me to call Danny when they had questions.

“He is an academic and a spiritual guide. He is progressive and yet always guarding the tradition. This is a wonderful choice for JTS and for our movement. Together with Chancellor Arnie Eisen, Dean Danny Nevins will help get us to where we need to be.”

Rabbi Nevins succeeds Rabbi William Lebeau, who twice served as dean of the rabbinic school.

In a letter to his congregation, Adat Shalom President David Schostak wrote: “We are very sorry to see him go, but we take pride in the fact that he has excelled to the point that he has been asked to be dean of the rabbinical school, one of the highest and most important positions in our movement.”

In his congregational letter, Rabbi Nevins wrote: “As I reflect upon these years, I am filled with gratitude to God for allowing me to work with such an extraordinary community. These years have been ones of deep satisfaction. I feel truly blessed and cannot imagine being happier as a congregational rabbi.”

Praising his rabbinic colleagues, professional staff and lay leadership, he said, “I am confident that our congregation will continue to flourish.”

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |
Conservative Judaism Detroit JTS Michigan Rabbi

Having to Share My Rebbe

When Rabbi Danny Nevins, my friend, colleague, and personal rabbi, told me a couple months ago that he was being considered for the position of Dean of the Rabbinical School of the Conservative Movement’s central academic institution, the Jewish Theological Seminary, I was immediately torn.

On the one hand, I knew how many people at Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills, Michigan (including my parents) would be devastated to lose their beloved rabbi. On the other hand, I knew how many Jewish people around the world would benefit greatly from having their own rabbis influenced by Danny’s insight, warmth, sincerety, and brilliance.

Rabbi Danny Nevins became the rabbi of my shul just as I was heading off to college, but I quickly found in him everything I was looking for in a personal spiritual advisor — a rebbe. He comforted me when my grandfather passed away. He’s written numerous letters of recommendation on my behalf. He officiated at my wedding and the naming celebrations for two of my children. For the past thirteen years, as I decided to become a rabbi, studied in rabbinical school, and took my own congregation, Rabbi Nevins has been my closest advisor. He’s a rabbi’s rabbi and always seems to just “get it.” He is an academic and a spiritual guide. He is progressive and yet always guarding the Tradition.

It is bittersweet to know that I will now have to share his wise counsel with hundreds of other rabbis — both future and present leaders of the Jewish community. But for the sake of Judaism and the future strength of the Conservative Movement, this is a wonderful choice. Together with Chancellor Arnie Eisen, Dean Danny Nevins will help bring the Conservative Movement to its true potential.

Mazel Tov to Rabbi Nevins… chazak v’amatz!

The Detroit Free Press article is here.

Here is the press release from JTS:

The Jewish Theological Seminary announced today that Rabbi Daniel Nevins has been named the next Dean of The Rabbinical School. The Jewish Theological Seminary is the academic and spiritual center of Conservative Judaism worldwide.

Rabbi Nevins, who will assume his post on July 1, 2007, succeeds Rabbi William Lebeau, who joined JTS as Vice Chancellor for Rabbinic Development in 1988. Since then, he has served twice as Dean of The Rabbinical School, from 1993-1999, and most recently from June 2004 until the present.

Rabbi Nevins is currently the Senior Rabbi of Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills, Michigan, where he previously served as Assistant Rabbi. A 1994 graduate of The Rabbinical School, he received an MA in Hebrew Letters from JTS in 1991 and a BA, magna cum laude, from Harvard College in 1989, from where he also received an MA in history. A native of New Jersey, Rabbi Nevins studied at Yeshivat HaMivtar in Jerusalem, and was the recipient of the prestigious Wexner Foundation Graduate Fellowship.

“I am delighted to announce the appointment of Rabbi Daniel Nevins as the next Dean of The Rabbinical School,” said Arnold M. Eisen, Chancellor-elect of JTS. “Rabbi Nevins brings to his new tasks the wealth of experience, wisdom and compassion gained during his thirteen years as a congregational rabbi in a thriving community. He also impressed the Search Committee and me with his energy, his ideas, and his passionate commitment to Torah, the Jewish people, and Conservative Judaism. Danny’s deep appreciation for our movement’s standards, its principles, and its pluralistic nature will serve us well at this time of challenge and transition for the movement. His years of work on the Rabbinical Assembly Law Committee are a testament to his vision, his leadership, and his scholarship. I am excited at the prospect of working with Rabbi Nevins as I assume the leadership of JTS, certain that he will meet our challenges with confidence and seize hold with both hands of the many opportunities before us.”

“I am honored and excited by the opportunity to serve as Pearl Resnick Dean of The Rabbinical School,” stated Rabbi Nevins. “For the past thirteen years I have had an extraordinary experience as Rabbi of Adat Shalom Synagogue. I have experimented in the ultimate laboratory of Jewish life, learning what works through the prism of countless pastoral, intellectual, and spiritual interactions with my congregation. I will miss my community, but I will take what I have learned from them to benefit the next generation of rabbis. As Dean of The Rabbinical School, I look forward to working with an extraordinary team of faculty, students, and administrators to create a sacred place of Torah study and observance.”

Rabbi Nevins serves on the Rabbinical Assembly’s International Executive Council and is a member of the RA’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS) His halakhic writings include several responsa approved by the CJLS as well as co-authorship of “Homosexuality, Human Dignity and Halakhah,” a responsum arguing for the normalization of the status of gay and lesbian Jews that was approved by the CJLS last month. His many general Jewish essays include, among others, “A Place Among the Mourners of Zion,” an exploration of the history and meaning of a familiar expression of comfort, published in Conservative Judaism (Summer 2006), and “Gadol Kvod HaBriot: Placing Human Dignity in the Center of Conservative Judaism,” which appeared in Judaism (Summer 2005), a quarterly journal published by the American Jewish Congress.

Rabbi Nevins is past President of the Michigan region of the Rabbinical Assembly and serves on the Board of the Frankel Jewish Academy of Metropolitan Detroit. Deeply committed to interfaith and interreligious work, he is past President of the Farmington Area Interfaith Association and the ecumenical Michigan Board of Rabbis, and a member of the Board of the Detroit chapter of the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion. In May 2005, Rabbi Nevins led a group of Protestant and Catholic leaders on a unique trip that included Pope Benedict XVI’s first public audience, Yom Hasho’ah (Holocaust Memorial Day) at Titus’s Arch in Rome, and a week in Israel visiting Jewish and Christian holy places.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |
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Urban Entrepreneurial Academy

Detroit entrepreneur Dan Gilbert, majority owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena, recently created an urban entrepreneurial academy called Bizdom U. Set to launch next month, Bizdom U will be a full-time, two-year program designed to produce entrepreneurs who will start up and lead successful Detroit-based businesses.

The goal is to provide graduates of urban high schools who do not plan to pursue a four-year degree with an alternative education in entrepreneurship. Those who graduate from Bizdom U can expect between $25,000 and $500,000 to be invested over time, based on milestones and performance, into their companies. This is a wonderful contribution to Michigan’s economy and will greatly benefit many young people in Detroit who could create tomorrow’s companies. More information on the project is available at the TechTownWSU site.

Dan Gilbert is a pretty remarkable business man. He founded the Michigan-headquartered Rock Financial in 1985 as a 22-year-old, first-year law student, growing it into one of the largest independent mortgage banks in the country taking it public in 1998. In 1999, Intuit purchased Rock Financial and the national web operation was renamed Quicken Loans Inc. With Dan staying on as CEO, Quicken Loans quickly became the leading provider of home loans on the Internet and about two years later Gilbert bought Quicken Loans Inc. back from Intuit.

Dan is also a partner in the private investment group Camelot Ventures, which recently invested in my cousin’s company, ePrize. Camelot also owns and operates FlashSeat, a company which has created technology and processes that replaces physical tickets for large sports and entertainment events with an electronic approach. Dan was Rawlings Sporting Goods’ largest shareholder and was instrumental in effecting the sale of Rawlings to K2 in March 2003.

I first met Dan because of his involvement in JARC, a non-profit organization that provides housing and services to the developmentally disabled, where he served as President when my mother was the Secretary of the board. JARC is one of my favorite charities and continuously receives awards for being one of the nation’s best non-profits. The photo above was taken at a Cleveland benefit for Friends of the Israel Defense Forces in which Dan Gilbert and his business partner David Katzman were honored.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |
Basketball Detroit Education Jewish Sports

Afternoon with Mr. D

Last Wednesday I had a very intriguing discussion over lunch with Mr. Bill Davidson, owner of Guardian Industries, and sports franchises the Detroit Pistons (NBA), Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL), and Detroit Shock (WNBA). Each of these sports teams are the reigning champions of their respective league.

I was invited to lunch with Mr. D. along with a few other recent graduates of the William Davidson Graduate School of Education at The Jewish Theological Seminary. I was very impressed with our candid discussion about the Seminary, Jewish Education, and the Conservative Movement. It was also impressive to tour Guardian Industries’ world headquarters (located in Auburn Hills) which looks out onto the Palace of Auburn Hills and the Pistons’ practice facility.

Here are some photos from the day:

Clockwise: Mr. D. and me; Mr. D. in office; Mr. D.’s 3 NBA championship rings; Photo of Bill Laimbeer in Guardian dining room
(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |