Date of Birth: March 25, 1932
Date of Death: June 12, 2022
Place of Birth: Detroit, Michigan
Social Work Innovator
Born in 1932, Marilyn Cohen Hertzberg was the sister of an accomplished artist and the wife of a beloved community volunteer, Stuart Hertzberg, whom she married in 1950.
Surrounded by talented family members, Marilyn was also a star.
Her undergraduate degree was in Greek literature and philosophy, “which I loved,” she states, but the master’s degree from Wayne State University in social work led to her many professional contributions.
Like her sister, Barbara Manko, Marilyn was creative and innovative. Between her undergraduate degree and obtaining her Masters, she opened an art gallery with her friend, Merla Wolk, in Birmingham, Michigan. The two women allowed only Michigan artists to be shown. Theirs was the first art gallery in Birmingham and it contributed to the recognition of local artists before there was a Michigan Artists Society. However, after a few years, the gallery had to close.
“When Merla’s son got tonsillitis and my son had an ear infection, we couldn’t open the gallery,” she says with a chuckle. They were young with other commitments.
So, Marilyn earned her degree in social work and was immediately hired by Jewish Family Service. She was delighted to be at an agency that provided help and therapy to clients, including those with financial needs. She and her co-worker, Margaret Weiner, developed group therapy programs for large and small gatherings.
She soon developed a program for mothers and daughters with an Orthodox social worker on staff. She started many groups, including one which worked with interfaith couples and also grandparents whose children were in interfaith marriages.
Later, Marilyn became proficient at writing grants. She obtained funds from the Parkinson's Foundation so that Jewish Family Service could hire additional social workers to work with Parkinson’s patients and caregivers. The work was “very challenging,” but successful. Another grant she obtained was from the Skillman Foundation for Jewish single mothers and, later, for single fathers.
Each time Marilyn developed a new program, she was careful to provide appropriate criteria to assure success. She received grants for the agency dealing with sexual and physical abuse of children, the enhancement of parenting skills, and week-long camps for single parents—one for fathers and one for mothers.
After a group mission to Detroit’s partnership region in the Galilee in Israel, Marilyn returned to Israel alone. She stayed a month to teach Israeli colleagues to write grants. They were thrilled when they received a grant for an after-school program for Ethiopian-Israelis.
Marilyn Hertzberg worked thirty years at Jewish Family Service before retiring. “I had a good run,” she says.
In retirement she has turned her attentions to volunteering. In recent years, she volunteered with her grandson, Jacob, at Yad Ezra, the Kosher food bank. At her current home in Fox Run, she volunteered to develop programming and served on the Residential Advisory Council.
Marilyn Hertzberg has served her community with hard work, dedication, and great skill.