Date of Birth: September 20, 1946
Date of Death:
Place of Birth: Detroit, Michigan
Advocate for Difficult Challenges
When Elaine Rosen Sturman decided not to pursue her dream of being an actor, she did not know how far and wide her passions would spread throughout the Detroit Jewish community.
Born to Jean Landau Rosen and Irving Rosen, both teachers, Elaine initially followed in their footsteps, working in the classroom, as did her sister, Beth Rosen Sklar.
Elaine worked for the Merrill-Palmer Institute, now the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute for Child and Family Development at Wayne State University. But she was always devoted to theater. She starred in many plays in high school and majored in both theater and education at the University of Michigan.
After graduation she married dermatologist Stephen Sturman in 1969.
Elaine worked for the Jewish Community Relations Council, then known as the Jewish Community Council. She was hired to staff the Soviet Jewry Committee and lead the activists to advocate for the release of Soviet Jews from behind the “Iron Curtain.”
Later, her passion for challenges led to her commitment to relationship-building between Christians and Jews. She served as president of the former Ecumenical Institute of Jewish-Christian Studies.
Elaine speaks of her “great love of the community.” Inspired by her parents’ volunteerism and the presidents of Hadassah, Elaine became president of Hadassah of Greater Detroit from 2000 to 2003. She worked tirelessly for Hadassah Hospitals and security for Israel. When she completed her term, her commitment did not end. She served on the Hadassah National Board for eight years. Determined to keep her community safe and informed, Elaine also became involved with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). As a Michigan Region Board Chair, she put into action ADL’s ongoing relationship with law enforcement and protective services. As she says, “there is no place for hate.”
In the spirit of bringing together friends and the community, Elaine returned to her first love, becoming active in the Jewish Ensemble Theater (JET). In 2020 she completed four years as president of JET during the largest transition in the organization’s history: moving from its first location to a new building in Commerce Township. Her leadership skills and constant smile helped raise the funds necessary to establish the new theater.
Elaine also served on the board of the Detroit Medical Center Huron Valley - Sinai Hospital and as president of the Saturday Luncheon Club.
A close friend describes Elaine as a woman admired for “her upbeat optimism and her perpetual smile, even during adversity.” Modesty and selflessness define her, but her leadership has made a difference in Israel and Michigan. While Elaine insists that her proudest accomplishments are her three children, her consistent advocacy for challenging causes has been her gift to the community.
Written by Noah Krasman and Jeannie Weiner