Steffie Drucker is on the committee for the annual Illini Hillel Bingo Fundraiser at Hamburger Mary’s in Andersonville. She chatted with ChiTribe about growing up in Skokie, going to the University of Illinois and being involved in Illini Hillel.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Skokie with my twin brother, Ross. My dad is from Homewood and my mom is from Albany Park.
What did you do Jewish growing up?
My brother and I are part of our family’s fourth generation to belong to Temple Beth Israel, in Skokie. We went to Sunday school, Hebrew school, and confirmation classes growing up. Our family did Shabbat in our own way and we host everything, so we have about 40 people over for Passover and High Holiday meals. My brother and I were also members of BBYO throughout high school. We attended conventions and served on our chapter boards (my brother was on regional board as well).
So, you went to U of I, tell me a bit about it.
U of I was amazing. I admit that I was still a little nervous about going there even after I committed (I was concerned about being “just a number” at a Big Ten school), but it turned out to be the perfect fit for me. I was a journalism major and the department and College of Media are smaller and very tight-knit, so I developed close, personal relationships with many of my instructors and classmates amidst the fun and wealth of opportunities at a Big Ten school. I was super involved on campus: I was a member of a service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega; I was a reporter and later web editor for The Daily Illini; I was a member of the Society for Professional Journalists; I was part of a group of students that started a morning show on the student TV channel, called Good Morning Illini; I worked as the social media intern for the Office of Admissions, a production assistant for Big Ten Network, and as a grader for Journalism 200; and all throughout I was involved at Illini Hillel.
Tell me about your involvement with Hillel.
Hillel was my home away from home from the beginning. I was a lay leader at Hillel for my first three years and later served as the Treasurer, helping to transition that position into the Vice President of Development.
Every weekend for the four years I was at U of I started at Hillel; my friends and I never missed a Friday night Shabbat dinner. But I would be at Hillel throughout the week as well, especially during my last two years on campus when I lived around the corner from Hillel. I hosted or attended many events and programs throughout the week, especially once I became a board member, but I’d also just swing by on my way home to see who was around to hang out with before hunkering down in my apartment for the night. I knew I could always find company at Hillel.
What do you do for work now?
I’m a freelance digital content producer for ABC7, which means I write stories for our website and news app. When I’m not in the newsroom, I’m a digital communications specialist for various research centers at Northwestern University. I assist with social media, website administration, and event marketing. I also work at my family’s restaurant, Superdawg Drive-in, the city’s iconic, 71-year-old drive-in restaurant on the far Northwest Side.
What do you do Jewish now?
I’ve become involved in Chicago’s young Jewish community through JUF, since it’s basically like Hillel post grad! I participated in the LEADS program in the fall of 2017; I volunteered with friends through the FEED Chicago initiative in October; I’ve attended the Big Event in the two years since graduating; and I’ve attended other networking events sponsored by the Federation.
I’m also involved in my synagogue, Temple Beth Israel. I helped plan and coordinate the temple’s 100th anniversary celebration last year. I also was on the social media team and served as day-of event staff at the Greater Chicago Jewish Festival.
You are on the committee for the Illini Hillel event, tell us about that.
Justin Malina or Robbie Schnitzer asked me to join the host committee as a young alumna. I’m excited to be involved because I think there’s great potential for Hillel to engage with its young alumni, many of whom live in the Chicago area. I’ve attended at least three Hillel alumni events since graduating — two summer happy hours and last year’s bingo fundraiser — and I loved that it felt like bringing the fun and community of Illini Hillel home to Chicago. Champaign is pretty close, but I don’t get down to campus very much so I love these little visits. I wish we had a satellite location here!
When the tribe gathers…magic happens. It’s magic that these events conjure up that familiar, home-y feeling I got from being at Hillel.
Sunday, March 31st, 7-9 p.m.
Hamburger Mary’s 5400 N. Clark St.
Chicago, Illinois 60640
Come out for a fun night of bingo hosted by the Illinois Jewish Alumni Network at Hamburger Mary’s to benefit our beloved Illinois Hillel! For only $15, you can play ten rounds of bingo and have a chance to win prizes each round (all bingo card proceeds will go directly to Hillel). It’s a great way to give back to a place that we all love so much.
Event Committee – Justin Malina, Tori Weinstein, Steffie Drucker, Adam Sturt, Sammy Marks, Robbie Schnitzer and Leah Friedland