Annual Gala/Honorees

Thank you for attending our 2019 Annual Gala

Dream Maker Award Honorees

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  • Joy and Allan Nachman

    Dream Maker Award honorees Joy and Allan Nachman have a long record of volunteer service to Jewish Detroit beginning in the 1960s, when as a teenager, Allan formed a B’nai Brith AZA chapter when he couldn’t find one open to new members. That passion for creating opportunities for Jewish youth, and for strengthening the Jewish community overall, has, over six decades, led the couple to assume leadership roles at Tamarack Camps, Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, Adat Shalom Synagogue, United Jewish Foundation, the Jewish Fund, National Council of Jewish Women, Jewish Family Services, and, of course, Hillel Day School of Metropolitan Detroit, where we honor them with the Dream Maker Award.

    Of his commitment to Hillel Day School, Allan said, “With a history such as that of the Jewish people, and all we have endured to survive and thrive, we don’t have the right to break the chain.” Thus, he and Joy are the proud parents of Hillel alumni Elanah (Rick) Nachman Hunger (class of 1988) and David (Briana) Nachman, and grandparents of current Hillel students Harrison and Dorian Hunger, as well as Juniper, Bowie, and Ford Nachman, who live out of town.

    A member of the Hillel Day School Board of Trustees in the mid-1980s, Allan, who is of counsel at Butzel Long, as well as principal of Willowgreen Building Group, LLC, was co-chair of a 1986 capital campaign that made improvements to the school’s facility and parking lot. He has also made education of Jewish youth a priority as chair of Federation teen missions to Israel, cultivating young leadership.

    Joy, a psychotherapist in private practice, has for decades advocated for children undergoing adoption, expedited placement of children in permanent homes, and has now expanded her practice in Birmingham to include caring for the needs of a growing elderly population in metropolitan Detroit. She is also the “Joy” behind “The Joy Project,” which provides essential services to women and children through Jewish Family Service. This Mother’s Day tribute program, which is celebrating its 10th year, was started by Elanah Nachman Hunger in honor of her mother, whom she calls “a rock in my life.”

    For their lifelong commitment to Jewish Detroit, their inspiring community leadership, and passion for the next generation, Hillel is thrilled to present Allan and Joy Nachman with this year’s Dream Maker Award.

Rabbi Jacob E. Segal (z"l) Award Honorees

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  • Renee and Craig Erlich

    Reneé and Craig Erlich embody the value of chesed. Their widespread acts of kindness have taken form in philanthropy, volunteerism, and service to our community for many years. As the parents of three Hillel graduates, Jonah (2012), Sophie (2013), and Molly (2016), our school has greatly benefited from their unwavering support and commitment. 

    Reneé is an Executive and Leadership Coach and is President of Prosperi Leadership Coaching. She is the co-founder of pulse220 and Star Trax. She has served on the boards of JVS, EO, and Hillel Day School.  Currently she is on the board of Frankel Jewish Academy and the Board of Governors of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. 

    Reneé began her involvement with Hillel when she served on a marketing committee and convened a parent allergy team that implemented an EPI pen system in the school. She served on the Board of Trustees and played a role in marketing, fundraising and events. Her most fond moments were volunteering in the classroom, interacting with faculty, administration, and students, and watching her children thrive at Hillel. 

    Craig is the Executive Vice President and General Manager in Detroit + Nashville of the George P. Johnson Company. He is also a member of the board of directors of Agree Realty, a publicly traded REIT based in Bloomfield Hills. Craig serves on the Board of Governors of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, the Executive Board of JDRF and is past president of JARC. 

    Craig’s most memorable Hillel moments include walking his excited children to their classrooms, collaborating with them on real world homework projects and volunteering in class throughout the years. He believes strongly that Hillel provided an educational, social and Judaic experience for his entire family, immediate and extended, that continues to be a source of learning and inspiration today.

    For the impact they have made at Hillel and throughout the Jewish and greater Detroit community, we are thrilled to present Reneé and Craig Erlich with this year’s Rabbi Jacob E. Segal z”l Award.

Honorary Alumni Award Recipient

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  • Steve Freedman

    Steve Freedman was happily ensconced in suburban Philadelphia, working as the educational director at Beth Sholom Congregation, and raising four children with his wife, Joan, when Hillel Day School invited him to apply for the Head of School position that was open in 2003.

    “At first I said no,” he recalled. “My oldest son, Eytan, was about to start high school. And then Joan reminded me, ‘Eytan is about to start high school. It’s the perfect time to make a switch.’”

    Within months, the family moved to Detroit. And for the next 16 years, Steve Freedman decisively led Hillel Day School into the 21st century, planning and creating an environment that is warm and conducive to learning, and which meets the needs of today’s students and families.

    With the support of the Board of Trustees, his numerous accomplishments include eliminating the teachers’ union in 2005, and recalibrating the relationship between school leadership and teachers, unencumbered by politics. “In an independent school, the onus is on the leadership team to have a direct relationship with teachers,” he said.

    In 2006, Steve instituted the eighth grade Israel trip, and accompanied students to Israel for several years. “Experiencing Israel through their eyes was magical,” he recalled.

    In 2008, he led the move to become a community day school in response to demographic shifts and the broader mission of delivering an outstanding Jewish and general education to all Jewish children in metropolitan Detroit.

    In 2010, he was integral to the decision to open an Early Childhood Center to grow enrollment, gaining the support of congregations and the community.

    And in 2014, he led a $13 million renovation that aligns with a curriculum that has shifted from one that is content-driven to one that fosters active learning and skill acquisition, to prepare students to navigate an ever-changing global economy with tools in communication, collaboration, and critical thinking that withstand the winds of change.

    As Steve and his wife Joan, Director of Curriculum, move to New Jersey at the end of the school year to be closer to family, we are thrilled to name him among our graduates, as an honorary alumnus. His unique ability to turn vision into reality, to move forward an educational institution that now serves as a model to educators worldwide, while preserving our Jewish tradition and peoplehood, has strengthened Hillel for years to come.

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Hillel Day School of Metropolitan Detroit
32200 Middlebelt Road | Farmington Hills, MI 48334