Meet Our Incredible Alumni!
We love when alumni share how their experience at Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School has impacted their lives! Check out some of our recent interviews and updates from alumni as they reflect on their time at Bernard Zell and beyond. If you would like to share your story, please fill out this form or contact Sarah Horowitz.
- Ike Barinholtz '91 - Life at Bernard Zell and Now
- Alana Chandler '14 - iWitness Video Challenge Winner
- Elizabeth Goldblatt '14 - Directing change at Jones College Prep
- Quincy Hirt '13 - 18 Under 18 Winner
- Michael Lufrano '79 - Protecting our Community
- Clara Malkin '08 - Bernard Zell & Jewish Identity
- Tamar Newberger '77 - Living and Breathing Jewish Life
- Griffen Saul '13 - Founder of We Are Able
- Gabi Wallk '14 - Making an Impact
- Suzy Kahn Weinberg '81 - 50 Years with Bernard Zell
Since graduating from Bernard Zell, Ike Barinholtz '91 has performed comedy routines all over the world, starred in several television shows and movies as well as works in production. Most recently, he is involved with the FOX sitcom “The Mindy Project", The Lego Movie 2, and The Twilight Zone. In 2014, Bernard Zell had the chance to catch up with Ike to hear about his time as a student, and career and life in Hollywood.
Favorite Bernard Zell lunch: Mac & Cheese, with a night crust on top of it (served by Margaret and Victor)
Eighth Grade Operetta: West Side Story, played Bernardo, and to this day I can sing the whole chorus to America
Favorite teacher: Cliff Kehoe
What do you remember about Bernard Zell?
I remember laughing a lot. I remember having a great group of friends from JK to eighth-grade: Daniel Freed, Stu Lots, David Hollander. I remember I had some really special teachers that I feel like, even at a young age, helped shape who I am today. Chief among them was Cliff Kehoe, who recently passed away. He was my third-grade teacher and was one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. The other big thing I remember is basketball. The biggest thing in Chicago at the time was Michael Jordan and the Bulls and a big part of my formative years at Bernard Zell was playing basketball. I tried out for the Eagles basketball team and made the team. I was so excited because only a couple people made the team in fourth-grade. We would have these epic games against Latin and Parker and at the time, I thought it was the Bulls against the Pistons. I wasn’t Michael Jordan, I was more of a Scottie Pippen but I thought they were epic.
What was your first true acting job?
I had two lines in a movie that never came out. It was so hot out and I had to wear this elaborate outfit, I was a waiter at a fancy restaurant and I was overdressed [for the weather]. I remember thinking, “I’m surrounded by 150 extras and the food isn’t great but I love it, I want to do it again.” My first “city job” was MADtv and I remember thinking that it couldn’t get better than that.
Bernard Zell: What’s next in your career?
IB: I have a movie coming out with Seth Rogen this spring, “Neighbors,” hopefully more episodes of "The Mindy Project" and hopefully make more movies. I’m going to be in the business until they tell me I can't do it anymore.
What about your personal life?
I got married to a girl from eastern Illinois, Erica Hanson. We had a little girl named Foster and it’s been very fun learning how to be a dad.
Alana Chandler and a group of her classmates at Walter Payton College Prep were named the 2017 winners of the USC Shoah Foundation’s iWitness Video Challenge for their project Who Are You?: Embracing Identity in Our Community. The challenge asked students to document how they are inspired to make positive choices and create value in their community. Alana and her teammates split a $5,000 college scholarship and secured a $2,500 grant for Walter Payton College Prep.
Elizabeth Goldblatt '14 graduated from Jones College Prep in 2018. While in high school, she returned to Bernard Zell on the annual Day of Service to speak about the importance of empathy and her understanding about who, why and how to help. This was developed while she participated in the 8th Grade Student Council’s canned food drive during her time at Bernard Zell.
Once at Jones, Elizabeth explored ways she could bridge a gap she identified between mainstream students and students receiving individualized education services and programs. In addition to bringing students together, Elizabeth also wanted to think about ways to help raise funds for the Individual Education Services (IES) department. A passionate actress, Elizabeth started Acting For Change, an organization that brings both mainstream and IES students together to perform four original stage productions every year. Acting For Change has raised over $4,000 for the IES department at Jones College Prep.
Springboard, The Jewish Teen Alliance of Chicago (JTAC) and JUF recently announced the inaugural cohort of 18 Under 18 winners. Quincy Hirt ‘13 was selected for exemplifying one or more of these characteristics: works toward inclusion of Jewish teens of all abilities; prioritizes raising money for tzedakah/charity or volunteering; teaches their peers and loves Jewish learning; motivates others to be involved in Jewish life; or stands out as a Jewish leader or role model.
A 1979 graduate of Bernard Zell, Michael Lufrano is Executive Vice President, Community Affairs and Chief Legal Officer for the Chicago Cubs, which he joined in 2004. Since that time, he has been responsible for community affairs, government relations efforts, neighborhood relations, and charitable activities for the Cubs, including efforts to develop and maintain positive relations with the community around Wrigley Field. Michael also leads Cubs Charities, which have consistently donated more than $1 million a year to organizations serving Chicago and its communities. From 1993-95, he served in the White House as Special Assistant to the President and as Deputy Director of Advance under President Bill Clinton. In 1996, Michael was the Convention Hall Director for the Democratic National Convention at the United Center. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Lakeview Citizens Council and the East Lakeview Neighbors Association. Michael is a 1987 graduate of the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and a 1992 graduate of Harvard Law School. He has served on the Bernard Zell Board of Trustees since 1995 and is also the proud parent of two current Bernard Zell students. Michael received the Inaugural Alumni Achievement Award at Bernard Zell’s 70th Anniversary Alumni Celebration in May 2017.
Clara Malkin and her family have been part of the Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School community since 1997. Clara became an alumna in 2008, while her brother Elijah graduated in 2012. Clara is a graduate of Tulane University and is proud to say that she has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with her father Barry Malkin and Barry’s cousin Josh Malkin.
Read on to learn Clara’s thoughts on how her education at Bernard Zell helped shape her identity, as published in our 2015-2016 Donor Report.
“Although I graduated from Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School in 2008, I can still name every teacher I ever had. Each one was unique and impactful. Attending Jewish day school had a pronounced effect on me and led me to pursue a dual major in political science and Jewish Studies at Tulane University. At Tulane, I was also a Jewish leader and took great enjoyment in being connected to the larger Jewish community. I was involved with Hillel and on the Green Wave Israel Scholars Board through which I shared positive messages about Israel throughout the campus.
My years at Bernard Zell will be part of my identity forever. I plan to stay involved because I want to help the generations of kids who will attend the school and have the same wonderful experiences that have impacted my identity. I know that with the support of the community, the school will flourish and grow and be even bigger and better. It will be a positive influence on so many children well into the future. I cannot imagine a school that could do more than Bernard Zell does—educating each child to be tolerant and to be a positive influence in the world.”
Tamar Newberger reflected on her time at Bernard Zell in our 2014 Annual Report.
Tamar Newberger was lining up to dance the Quadrille at the Austrian Embassy in Prague, Czech Republic, when she suddenly thought back to the dances she learned at Shavuot festivals as a student at Bernard Zell.
“I was laughing as I was in my long dress doing this Austrian dance,” says the 1977 graduate, who moved to Prague with her family when husband Andrew Schapiro was named U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic. “Shavuot is a harvest festival, so the dances would be about wheat and fruit,” Newberger continues. “You could not wait to be a 6th grader, where you could wear this toga and do this wheat dance. Or an 8th grader, where you did a partner dance. I can do those dances to this day!”
The school has impacted Newberger’s entire family. When daughter Galia Newberger and son Alexander Schapiro were barely old enough for preschool, the family moved from Manhattan to Chicago in part to send the kids to BZAEDS. “I knew it was still an excellent school. We visited it and we loved it,” Newberger says. “And one of the things that kept us in Chicago was how much we liked Bernard Zell for the kids.” They attended the school until the family moved overseas, when Galia was in 8th grade and Alexander in 6th grade. Newberger appreciates how Bernard Zell offers “not just Jewish education, but an integrated Jewish education. You’re living and breathing Jewish life and values and teaching, even as you’re studying Brown v. Board of Education or Mesopotamia. “And in terms of academics, it’s so strong,” she continues. “My kids have had a fantastic foundation for their school here in Prague.” A Bernard Zell education also helped Newberger succeed in her later academic and professional life, graduating from Francis W. Parker School and Barnard College, then becoming a computer scientist. “I was very well prepared as a consequence of being at Bernard Zell,” she says.
The school also impacted her personal life. “Some of my oldest friends come from Bernard Zell. I have a friend who’s going to be visiting me in April, somebody I knew from nursery school,” Newberger says. “Bernard Zell is very focused on community,” she continues. “One thing that is fantastic is Shabbat lunch. As a young student, you’re assigned to a Shabbat table where you will have lunch on Fridays for the rest of your time at the school. So you join this table that has 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders. It’s so nice. “Once a year, that table becomes the head table at lunch and parents are invited. Think about how great that is,” she emphasizes. “It’s parents cross-grade. It’s kids cross-grade. It’s just a lovely thing they do for community-building.”
When Newberger is asked to name the most important impact Bernard Zell makes on its community, she doesn’t choose one thing as much as all of them. “I would say how almost magically Bernard Zell has an emphasis on the arts, an emphasis on secular academics – math, science – and an emphasis on Judaism, and somehow there’s enough time in the day to do it all,” she says. “It’s really pretty remarkable."
Griffen, a graduate of Lincoln Park High School and student at Tufts University, spoke at Bernard Zell’s Day of Service in 2017. He reflected on being an agent of change and how searching for a passion took new meaning after his father’s passing from Multiple Sclerosis in 2015. Inspired by the support he received from his community at Bernard Zell, particularly his old teachers, Griffen founded We Are Able, a nonprofit organization designed to empower youth with disabilities and help families better improve the quality of their lives.
Griffen served as a 2016 youth co-chair for WE Day Illinois, an annual celebration of youth who serve their communities. WE Day included participation from over 700 schools and 15,000 students throughout Illinois.
Gabi Wallk '14 graduated from Walter Payton College Prep in 2018 and now attends Yale University. During her time in high school, she was selected as a Bronfman Fellow. Gabi, one of 26 fellows selected out of a nationwide applicant pool of over 250 students, participated in a five-week summer program of travel and study in Israel, which was followed by a rigorous year of programming centered about pluralism, social responsibility, and Jewish texts'.
Gabi is a graduate of JUF's second Research Training Internship (RTI) cohort. She also served as a leader for Walter Payton's Jewish Student Connection club and co-leads the Women's Interfaith Seminar at Payton. Gabi also built a virtual tutoring mobile application to serve disadvantaged students in Chicago. She co-founded and co-led Walter Payton's computer science club, "Get Coding," aimed at empowering students in innovative technology. She also served in the Model United Nations team, volunteered as a math tutor, and has participated in the national student SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) program.
“Asking why we are a part of the Bernard Zell community is like asking why we live in Chicago, it’s just in the fabric of our lives. It is so important to have a strong, vibrant and welcoming institution of Jewish learning in the city. Throughout Bernard Zell’s history, the school’s presence was essential and instrumental to Jewish families in Chicago, and we are blessed to have had Bernard Zell as part of ours.
Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School is the only elementary education experience I’ve ever known. After trying public school, my parents enrolled my oldest brother in 1965 before I was born. When I became a student, the school was small; we were scrappy. In an era of Russian immigrants coming to Chicago, seeing families start all over again for the chance to improve their lives and experience religious freedom made a powerful impression.
Today, as parents, choosing to raise our kids in the city and to send them to Jewish day school is a very deliberate and thoughtful decision. For Jeff and me, it is important that our children have the context of the urban environment in which they live. We love that they have been Jewish kids at a Jewish school who are proud to be a part of and feel a sense of place and responsibility for the larger Chicago community.
Now, the traditions of Bernard Zell are seared into the hearts of my family. After a year away from the school, Molly mentioned that she missed Shabbat lunch and both of my older daughters asked me to be more deliberate about Shabbat in our home. That comes from Bernard Zell. As a parent, these years feel long but are very short. My sixteen years as a parent at the school are coming to an end and supporting the school as a donor and Annual Campaign Co-Chair is my priority. This role reflects my evolution as a donor. In the early days, I always participated in the Annual Campaign but didn’t prioritize the school philanthropically. When I started volunteering for the Annual Campaign, I really understood the importance and impact of giving. And once I had children leave the school, I felt even more indebted. So much of their success—as students and as people—can be attributed to Bernard Zell.”
Jori Wineburgh '08
Nursery Associate Teacher
Jennifer Levine '96
Dani steele '98
Middle school humanities