Ellie Spitz honored for outstanding work in Chicago Jewish non-profit community

CHICAGO – Ellie Spitz, 28, of Chicago, is a recipient of the 2017 Samuel A. Goldsmith Award, presented at the Sept. 18 Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago’s 117th Annual Meeting held at the Hyatt Regency, Chicago.

The award is presented to young professionals who have shown outstanding performance in their work at a Jewish agency in the Chicago area.

Spitz, 28, is the Director of Community Engagement and Wellness at Mishkan Chicago, where she facilitates community building, volunteer development, and immersive experiences, and designs and implements many of Mishkan’s programs. She also is director of Maggie’s Place, Mishkan’s holistic wellness center. She began her work as the Community Mobilizer for Mishkan, spearheading the “LOCALS” initiative, funded by a two-year JUF Breakthrough Fund grant, which invites members of the Jewish community and others to participate in an open and accepting Jewish space.

“When Ellie began her work at Mishkan she had a background in social work and immense experience as a leader in Washington University’s LGBTQ and diversity spaces, but was new to the Jewish professional world,” said Dr. Steven B. Nasatir, JUF/Federation President. “She embraced the work with open arms (and has become) a true Jewish professional and the Jewish community is fortunate to have her in it, encouraging the next generation of Jews to explore and engage in Jewish life.”

During her remarks, she said that investing in people—in relationships—builds Jewish community.

“I see a Judaism full of diversity, full of people who crave a connection with spirituality and culture, full of people who actually prioritize Jewish community and Jewish learning over the plethora of other options life has for us,” she said. “Let’s stretch ourselves to meet people where they are at, to shake up our traditions, rituals and models. Let’s take the deep and rich Judaism we know and love and make it accessible to everyone who is interested.”

Spitz graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with highest honors in human development and family studies, and dual minors in sociology and Jewish culture and society. She received her master’s degree in social work from Washington University in St. Louis, and holds a certificate in Jewish leadership from Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning & Leadership and Northwestern University. Spitz was a 2013 James M. Holobaugh Honor recipient for her advocacy and service to the St. Louis metro LGBTQ community. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.


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The Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago is one of the largest nonprofit social welfare institutions in Illinois. It supports a vital network of agencies that act upon core Jewish values, including caring for those in need and sustaining the Jewish community.