James Hiller is a thirty-five-year resident in the Milwaukee Orthodox Jewish community in Sherman Park. He is a strong proponent of the advancement of quality of life for all of its diverse residents. In addition, since 1980, Mr. Hiller has served his community through his private general civil legal practice. He has and continues to serve on the boards of several religious and non religious non-profit organizations, making time to contribute to a myriad of community development, neighborhood revitalization and neighborhood safety projects, including the Sherman Park Community Association, Sherman Park Citizens Patrol, Burleigh Street Community Development Corporation and Business Improvement District #27-Burleigh Street. He identified neighborhood safety as a major common interest that unites the Jewish and non-Jewish residents of the neighborhood.
Born and raised in the Milwaukee area, Mr. Hiller moved away after graduating from Nicolet High School to pursue his undergraduate and law school education. He completed his undergraduate degree at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and graduated from the National Law Center at George Washington University in Washington D.C. He married his wife Lisa after completing his second year of law school and, soon afterwards, the couple moved to California.
The Hillers “came back home” in 1980 after their first child was born because they felt that Milwaukee was a better environment in which to raise their family than L.A. They also wanted to live closer to their extended family. As Mr. Hiller and his family—which eventually grew to seven children—became more observant of Orthodox Judaism, they decided to move across the city in 1983/84 to Sherman Park, the major home of the city's Orthodox Jewish community.
Officially founded in 1939, the Congregation Beth Jehudah has been the heart of this community for many generations. The internationally known Rabbi Michel Twerski and members of his extended family took up residence in Sherman Park in 1962, drawing many, including the Hillers, to join the culturally rich and socially tight-knit community. The Sabbath restrictions that require Orthodox Jews to walk to synagogue have led them to live in close proximity to one another and, thus, strengthened their sense of connection.
Family, Mr. Hiller emphasized, is one of the most important aspects of his life and he described the Orthodox community as a large family connected by their faith. Like a family, the community members care for each other on the individual level as well as through many groups. For instance, a women’s group provides food for new mothers and there is a phone messaging chat devoted to the psalm numbers of prayers offered for a terminally ill child. In addition to official groups, the community functions as a family by regularly sharing meals, supporting school events, and actively working to draw Jewish businesses and Orthodox families to the neighborhood—including those who grew up there but have moved away. Mr. and Mrs. Hiller have been especially involved in recruiting and assisting these new families and would love to see their own children and grandchildren return to the neighborhood. Mr. Hiller embodies the Orthodox Jewish community’s values through his commitment to the community and emphasis on their connectivity to one another.
Why He Moved to Sherman Park
Social Organizations within the Orthodox Jewish Community
Goal of Safety in the Neighborhood
Visual Signs of Safety