MILWAUKEE – She consumes biographies. She studies actors on stage. She believes in engagement. She’s trained as a social worker.
“I’m interested in people and I’m interested in what motivates people to take action,” said Miryam Rosenzweig, who will start as president and CEO of Milwaukee Jewish Federation on March 13. It’s a theme that runs through her life.
“I’m not just interested in the issue. I’m interested in the person behind the issue,” she said.
Her whole philosophy on engagement is that it’s personal. “We have to figure out what makes the individual participate in Jewish life. If someone doesn’t show up, we missed the mark. We have to figure out what gets people there,” she said, referring to her professional interest in human behavior. But her personal choices also reflect an interest in people.
“I love, love, love theater,” she said, adding that she’s looking forward to Milwaukee’s well-regarded theater scene. Having chosen to live in Downtown Milwaukee, she’s especially looking forward to exploring the arts in Milwaukee, she said.
“I used to go see theater in college when I was in New York,” she recalled. “I used to belong to ‘Audience Extras.’ For $5 you could see mostly previews. We would go all the time.”
Rosenzweig would have to pick up her ticket on the day of the performance, to be part of a play’s first unofficial audience, so that producers could gauge audience reaction.
“I saw great theater and I saw terrible theater,” she recalled.
She once saw a play with Farrah Fawcett that closed on the opening night of previews. “I’ll always remember it,” Rosenzweig said.
“I really enjoy more than watching the show, the actors,” she said. “I’m really interested in: What is it like for them?”
She grew up in a home that always had people in it. Hers was one of the few kosher houses in Windsor, Ontario, her father a pulpit rabbi, her mother the rebbetzin. “We set the table on Friday nights for 25 people,” she recalled.
Rosenzweig has lived in New York, Canada, Israel and Detroit.
“I never wanted or needed a hometown before Detroit,” said Rosenzweig, who moved to Detroit in 2011. “It has meant so much to me to be part of that, which is a real community. I was just looking to never lose that feeling again, where you’re part of a larger group and are all interdependent on each other.”
She sees the familial Milwaukee Jewish community as offering that hometown feeling.
It’s sure to offer Rosenzweig more of what she treasures – people.
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Personal data file: Miryam Rosenzweig
- Parents worked for the Canadian Zionist Organization.
- Lived in Israel from age 2-11 and lived in Tzfat and Jerusalem. She is a citizen of three countries.
- Her father, Rabbi Yosil Rosenzweig, was a founding composer and member of the famous Diaspora Yeshiva Band.
- Miryam Rosenzweig has a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and psychology with a minor in American history and a master’s in social work.
- After Sept. 11, Rosenzweig was trained in Project Liberty and worked with people who experienced trauma during the attacks.
- Has worked with local, national and global communities.