Father's lessons inspire support for JCC program at Great Lakes Recruit Training Center

Great Lakes image
Jack Hoffman
Thanks to a donation from Robbie and Scott Schreiber, made in memory of Jack Hoffman, the JCC Chicago Jews in Blues program at the Great Lakes Recruit Training Center (GLRTC) in Great Lakes, Ill., continues to provide spiritual nurturing and community building for naval recruits.

In 2008, JCC Chicago began providing support and education services to Jewish recruits training at GLRTC. The program provides weekly Shabbat programming, holiday services, and opportunities for Jewish learning and exploration. Additionally, JCC provides Jewish "survival" kits, which include prayer books, ritual objects, music, and meditations recruits can use once deployed to maintain connections to Jewish practice. The program was developed in partnership with the Chicago Board of Rabbis (CBR) and represents the cooperative effort between JCC Chicago, CBR, and the Navy's Jewish chaplain stationed at the base.

Robbie and Scott Schreiber's contribution supports programming and services at the base and provides a bridge to continue these services in the future. Their donation was made in memory of Robbie's father, Jack Hoffman (1923-2008), who served as a Signalman First Class in the United States Navy from 1943 to 1946 and also did his basic training at GLRTC. "Because he was proud of his involvement in the US military, it's natural to do something at Great Lakes," said Robbie Schreiber.

 "Everyone recognizes this is something my dad would have liked," said Schreiber. "He would have encouraged other veterans and their kids to make contributions to continue this program," she said. Schreiber recalls her father being very generous, "To him, tzedakah was just a given."

Growing up on Chicago's West Side, Hoffman learned about religious persecution first-hand from his parents, Sam and Anna, who had fled Russia in the 1920s. This framed his appreciation for American freedoms and fueled his desire to serve during World War II. Hoffman loved visiting ports and representing America in various countries. Although Hoffman periodically faced anti-Semitism from fellow sailors, he never lost his strong sense of empowerment and pride in being American.

For more information, call Rachel Ritter Smith at (847) 763-3661.

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