Virtual Jewish Community Networking Night with Spertus

chitribe Jewish Community Networking Night: What’s Your Story?

Last year, ChiTribe was honored to receive the award for Jewish Innovation 2019 at the Spertus Institute annual Jewish Community Networking Night. This year is no different! Jewish professionals and volunteers from organizations across North American are invited to gather virtually for Spertus Institute’s annual Jewish Community Networking Night.

Join Spertus September 14th, 2020

Special guest is Moth StorySLAM champ Hillary Rea, founder and host of “Tell Me a Story.” 

The Innovation Award 2020

KOVAL Distillery to receive Innovation 20290 Award for their adept addressing of urgent community needs. ChiTribe, winners of the 2019 Innovation Award, is so excited to congratulate KOVAL as a member of the Innovation Awardees. Mazal tov!

For years, Chicago-based Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership has been hosting a free annual event for Jewish community volunteers, consultants, and professionals. Called Jewish Community Networking Night, it has become a favorite evening on Chicago’s community calendar, bringing hundreds of participants together to mingle, build contacts across organizations, enjoy each other’s company, and learn something new to add to their professional toolkits.  

The evening has become known for seeding new partnerships, spurring program ideas, matching qualified candidates to key positions, and fostering lasting connections.  

Why is this year different from all other years?

This year, Spertus Institute is taking the event online, opening the virtual doors on Monday, September 14.  From 4-5:30 pm central time, participants from Jewish communities across North America and beyond can engage together.

This year’s special guest is Moth StorySLAM winner Hillary Rea, the founder/host of Tell Me A Story and the producer/host of the storytelling podcast Rashomon. Rea works with leaders across the county, teaching them to use narrative to communicate and connect. For Networking Night, she will lead an interactive workshop, teaching participants to craft their own five-word life stories as a way to build connections, even online.  

Also part of this year’s event, the 2020 Innovation Award will be presented to KOVAL Distillery. KOVAL, the first distillery to open in Chicago since Prohibition, is known for its award-winning, handcrafted, organic, and kosher whiskeys, liqueurs, and spirits. As COVID-19 struck and many on the front lines were without adequate supplies, KOVAL founders Robert and Sonat Birnecker and their staff made an extraordinary decision and a truly impressive pivot to produce alcohol-based sanitizer for first responders, community organizations, medical institutions, essential businesses, and the general public. In doing so, they saved jobs and lives.  

In previous years, Jewish Community Networking Night has included plentiful food, specialty cocktails, and lots of time for participants to catch up with old friends and meet new acquaintances. Although this year’s event is online, fun and festivities will still be part of the agenda. Ticket holders will receive pre-event tips and tools from presenter Hillary Rea. Program partner Zelda’s Catering will provide a how-to video on making this year’s Spertini, should attendees want to make the event their happy hour from home. Participants will be entered to win raffle prizes, including Speak Up Kits from Hillary Rea, online cooking classes from Zelda’s Catering, and cocktail kits from KOVAL. A post-event Networking Night Directory will foster continued connection, because more than just a celebration, the purpose of the event is to build community and create opportunities for professional growth. 

Join the Networking Online

Networking Night is presented under the auspices of Spertus Institute’s Center for Jewish Leadership, and these goals—community and opportunity—underpin everything that the center does. Dr. Keren E. Fraiman, Spertus Institute’s Dean and Chief Academic Officer, said, “As we develop programs, we consider the multiple demands facing Jewish communal professionals and lay leaders. Our programs address today’s challenges and look ahead to the emerging needs our communities will face going forward. 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.”   

Advance reservations are required at The program will take place online via Zoom. Login information and instructions will be provided to ticket holders by email 24 hours in advance. 

Spertus Institute is grateful to sponsors ACSAssociated Agencies, and Zelda’s Catering for their generous support.   

About Spertus Institute

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. For more information contact Jessica,, or call 847.714.5553

Networking Night is a program of Spertus Institute’s Center for Jewish Leadership, supported in part by a generous grant from the Crown Family. 

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

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Jessica Leving

Jessica Leving