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Spertus Institute Welcomes Four New Trustees

Spertus Institute Welcomes Four New Trustees

Spertus Institute proudly welcomes four new members to our Board of Trustees. These impressive individuals are committed to the continuity of Chicago’s Jewish community and have some clear ideas about how to foster a vibrant Jewish future.

Dr. Sharon SilvermanDr. Sharon Silverman remembers watching the new Spertus Institute building being constructed on Michigan Avenue. Her first impression was a meaningful one. “I marveled at its beauty,” she says. Today, as a new trustee, she says that Spertus helps her connect to the Jewish community, a community, she’s discovering, that is as diverse as the city that harbors it.

“Chicago’s Jewish culture is extremely rich,” says Silverman, a partner in the consulting firm TRPP Associates, where she consults on teaching and learning in higher education. “What distinguishes Spertus from other organizations is that it embraces all forms of Jewish identity and widely promotes the rich Jewish culture. It’s open to everyone.”

Silverman thinks this inclusive atmosphere is integral to the institution’s continued success. “Identifying and meeting the needs of a diverse Jewish community are key determinants to Spertus Institute’s future,” she says. “I look forward to active involvement.”

Josh DaitchTo Josh Daitch, Senior Managing Director of Mesirow Financial, the most important aspect of Jewish life can be summed up in one word: community. In each of the five cities he’s lived around the world, he’s made Jewish organizational involvement a priority because he believes that only through communal par-
ticipation can Jewish communities grow, thrive, and prosper.

“I view Spertus as a leader enriching the educational opportunities for our Jewish community,” says Daitch. “What attracted me to Spertus was the focus on how these educational opportunities can help ensure a vibrant, more engaging Jewish future.”

Building on that foundation, he wants Spertus to become a hub for Jewish learning and events in the greater Midwest. “We’re in an era where people no longer feel they have to be Jewish, rather they need to want to be Jewish. Spertus can be the spark that ignites a resurgence of Jewish literacy, arts, culture, history, and heritage.”

Harold IsraelThirty years ago, when Harold Israel was a kid growing up in suburban Detroit, he took a field trip to Spertus that left an indelible impression. He remembers seeing stunning Jewish artifacts on display. For him, those artifacts were a ticket to understanding the Jewish past, “something that is especially important as the Jewish people enter their third and fourth generations in the US,” he says.

More than three decades later, now an attorney at Chicago’s Goldstein & McClintock LLP, he is trying to return the favor. Although he only recently became a trustee, his vision for Spertus is clear.

“Given the challenges facing Jews and Jewish organizations, it is essential that there be a place for community leaders to be properly trained,” he says. “That place is Spertus.”

He is already busy recruiting for Spertus leadership programs. In fact, when he first heard of Spertus Institute’s Jewish Professional Studies program, he shared the information with one person he felt would be a great future student. “I have a high-school age son considering a career in the Jewish community,” he said, “and I want the very best for him.”

Bruce HecktmenWhen it comes to involvement in Chicago’s Jewish community, Bruce Hecktman has roots that run deep. “My grandfather was a rabbi on the Southwest Side from the 1930s to the 1970s,” says Hecktman, President of Millbrook Real Estate Company. “Knowing what he went through — the discrimination, the anti-Semitism — made me realize how important it is to give back to the Jewish community.”

At Spertus, Bruce Hecktman is giving back in a major way. After joining the Board of Trustees in October, he’s already making strides to broaden Spertus Institute’s impact in the local community. Bruce’s goals for Spertus include bringing awareness of the institution to more people in his generation — people in their 40s and 50s who grew up involved in Judaism but have fallen out of touch over the years.

“I want to let the people of my generation know that Spertus is the perfect entryway back into Jewish learning.”

Thursday, July 31, 2014