Let’s Meet Jewish Person Of The Week – Shalom Klein
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Vernon Hills, IL and grew up in Skokie, IL.
What did you do Jewish growing up?
I grew up in a very proud Jewish home where time on Shabbat and Chaggim were very important. My Jewish education started at the Mayer Kaplan JCC in Skokie and has continued all the way to achieving my Master’s degree at Spertus Institute. Even at a young age, I was involved in planning Jewish programs and organizing activities for the community. My formal education has only helped me expand and professionalize those efforts.
What have you been up to recently in the Jewish community?
I just completed my term as Chairman of the Board at Keshet, which is where I have dedicated myself since starting to volunteer 10+ years ago. I have been in almost every lay leadership role within the organization and was honored to be an awardee at the annual banquet in 2013. I’m also a strong supporter of the Jewish United Fund, which I believe every single Jew in Chicago should both make a monetary contribution at any level and find a way to get involved or volunteer for one of the many causes they support.
How did you get so involved in the Jewish community, why is it important to you?
My parents have always made involvement in the community a priority. I grew up in a house where volunteering was just a part of what you do. I’ve found the causes I am passionate about and dedicate my days (and nights) to make a difference wherever possible.
What other communities are important in your life?
I’m also very actively involved in the Skokie community where I serve as Chairman of the Village of Skokie’s Economic Development Commission and on the executive committee of the Skokie Caucus Party. Getting involved in your local neighborhood is so important and allows you to literally positively impact where you live, work and play.
Tell us more about being a Jewish member of the United State’s Army and Reserves
It is an incredible honor to serve as an Officer in the United States Army. I commissioned as a Lieutenant earlier this year and currently serve with a Reserve unit in Arlington Heights, IL where I report once monthly for training and drills. Throughout my Army service, I’ve met some of the most amazing people from around the world and have formed friendships with individuals that have all prioritized selfless service for their Country.
Where did you go to school?
I am a proud alumni of the MAJPS program at Spertus and am currently completing my Doctorate at the American College of Education.
What do you do for work now?
Right now, I’m on active duty status for my Army service until February. When I come back, I will be stepping into a new professional leadership role in the Jewish community.
What have you done throughout your career and how did you end up in your current role?
I’ve worked in the business world, running our family accounting firm, in the non-profit community leading the Jewish Neighborhood Development Council of Chicago while also building an active consulting practice with 50+ clients around the country where I’ve helped businesses and organizations with their marketing, sales, fundraising, media, and government relations. In 2010, I started Jewish B2B Networking to help small businesses and job seekers in the tough economy. These efforts led to the creation of events and resources that drew 15,000+ people to our programs and the start of my radio show “Get Down To Business” which continues to this day. I also wrote a book with the same name that was published last year.
What do you do for fun/to relax?
I’ve run the Chicago Marathon twice in support of Team JUF and enjoy traveling the world with my wife of 7 years, Eli.
What is your favorite Jewish event in Chicago?
That’s easy! It’s the annual Keshet concert which always draws an amazing performer and the best crowd.
What is your favorite hidden gem in Chicago?
A few months ago, we discovered the Chicago Water Taxi from downtown to Chinatown where you can spend hours walking (and eating).
What is your favorite way to spend shabbat?
My favorite way to spend Shabbat is walking from our Skokie home to CJE’s Lieberman Center where Eli’s grandmother lives. We frequently join her for services and sometimes bring our handsome puppy Buddy to bring a smile to everyone’s faces.
Top three things on your Chicago bucket list?
Help the Chicago Jewish community build stronger partnerships with our interfaith brothers and sisters.
That is #1, 2 and 3 on my list as the sky is the limit when we come together.
When the Tribe Gathers…L’CHAYIM!