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Jewish Community Networking Night

Jewish Community Networking Night

Jewish professionals gather to network, nosh, and celebrate at Spertus Institute’s annual Jewish Community Networking Night

ELI talks receives 2019 Innovation and Collaboration Award

More than 200 Jewish community professionals schmoozed, learned, networked, and noshed at Spertus Institute’s annual Jewish Community Networking Night. The event, which took place April 2, brought together business and nonprofit professionals, as well as trustees, volunteers, and consultants who work for and with the wide range of organizations that serve Jewish Chicago. Together they celebrated successes, made new connections, and discovered new ways to excel.

In brief opening remarks, Dr. Keren E. Fraiman, Spertus Dean and Chief Academic Officer, outlined the importance of the Spertus Institute’s Center for Jewish Leadership (under the auspices of which this event is presented). She said, “As we develop programs, we consider the multiple demands facing Jewish communal professionals and lay leaders such as yourselves. Our programs address today’s challenges and look ahead to the emerging needs our communities will face in the future. Our hope is that what you learn will be resonant and relevant to the work that you do, so much so that you apply it the next day in the office, boardroom, or living room.”

The evening featured the presentation of the 2019 Innovation and Collaboration Award, which recognizes creative concepts that reach across institutions to serve the Jewish community. This year’s award was proudly presented to ELI talks, an organization that shares Jewish ideas through digital media. On behalf of ELI talks, Executive Director Mary Rubenstein accepted the award from Ilana Bley of the award sponsor, the law firm of Gould & Ratner LLP.

More than just a celebration, the evening also included ample opportunities for professional growth—including a speed presentation by renowned executive coach Rae Ringel, founding President of the DC-based Ringel Group. Ringel, who teaches at Georgetown University’s Institute for Transformational Leadership, shared insider tips on using language and presence to lead. Her expert insights about listening, presenting, convening, and inspiring gave professionals of all levels and backgrounds lots to think about as they snacked on delicious food provided by Program Partner Zelda’s Catering.

This year’s Networking Night took place immediately following the third session of Spertus Institute’s Fundraisers Forum, allowing participants to flow directly from one program to the other. Fundraisers Forum is a free professional development workshop series for everyone involved in securing contributions for Chicago-area Jewish organizations. Tuesday’s program—also led by Rae Ringel—offered a reframing of the fundraising process, founded on creating a productive mindset attuned to your organization and values. Within this new framework, participants developed skills to create more meaningful connections with their organization's donors.

Spertus Institute is grateful to Gould & Ratner LLP for their continuing sponsorship of the Innovation and Collaboration Award and to Zelda’s Catering for their generous partnership on this program. Thanks are also extended to the additional sponsors and community partners whose involvement made the evening possible: AllianceBernstein, Krueck + Sexton Architects, Monica & Steven Perlman, Strategic Wealth Partners, Community Auditors, and JPRO Chicago.

Keren Fraiman, Dean Bell, Jane Shapiro, Rebecca Schwab
Left to right: Spertus Institute Dean and CAO Dr. Keren E. Fraiman, Spertus Institute President and CEO Dr. Dean Phillip Bell, Jane Shapiro of Orot, Rebecca Schwab of ChiTribe.

Cindy Stern, Baruch Tuman, Bill Bietsch, Hannah Schaeffer
Left to right: Cindy Stern of the Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema, Baruch Tuman of TorahHub, Strategist Bill Bietsch, and Hannah Schaeffer of Miskan Chicago.

Spertus Institute offers dynamic learning opportunities, rooted in Jewish wisdom and culture and open to all. Graduate programs and workshops train future leaders and engage individuals in exploration of Jewish life. We often hear from students and participants that their experiences at Spertus are inspiring and even transformative. That is by design, because the Institute strives to offer thought-provoking content with real-world application, unparalleled resources, and a welcoming environment that encourages people to connect in an open exchange of ideas.



 JPRO Chicago

Krueck + Sexton Architects


Strategic Wealth



Zelda's Catering


Gould & Ratner LLP

Spertus Institute's Center for Jewish Leadership
is supported by a generous grant
from the Crown Family. 

Spertus Institute is a partner with
the Jewish United Fund in serving our community.


Thursday, April 4, 2019