If you are a young Jewish Chicagoan, there's a very good chance you were at the sixth annual Young Leadership Division's Big Event Fundraiser on Saturday night.
A whopping 2,100 people came together to support the Chicago Jewish community and the Jewish United Fund and to watch entertainment with double the laughs this year--two very funny standup comedians with two very different styles--Jim Gaffigan and Amy Schumer.
The event, held at the Sheraton Chicago, kicked off YLD's 2014 Annual Campaign.
As of Nov. 19, the event had raised $327,000--an increase over last year's Big Event Fundraiser--from 1,640 contributors, 837 of whom were first-time donors to JUF.
The energy was electric at the event, which included an after-party after the show at the hotel followed by an after-after party at a nearby bar.
'I've found my home here'
YLD's Big Event Fundraiser is JUF's premier fundraising event for the next generation of Jewish Chicagoans, and marks the first YLD event for many guests in attendance.
Before the show began, Scott Lieber, 2014 YLD Campaign Chair, addressed the crowd about why he supports YLD and JUF. "YLD is my community," he said. "I've found my home here in YLD and built great friendships with many of the people in the room tonight. JUF is doing amazing things in Israel and around the world, and I'm especially proud of the impact JUF makes right here in our hometown of Chicago. From providing groceries to those in need to helping children with disabilities, JUF is always there."
YLD President Joe Seigle, who also spoke at the event, talked to JUF News about what the Big Event Fundraiser has been accomplishing every year for the last six years. "The importance of engaging this population is critical for the future of the Federation and the Jewish community at large because we are the next generation of participants of JUF," he said. "This is especially relevant to single young adults as a critical link to Judaism, via associating with the community, at a time in their life where they are busy with establishing their careers and thinking about starting a family. The Big Event Fundraiser is about having fun and showing all those who choose to support JUF a good time."
And then it was on with the show, a performance by Schumer, followed by Gaffigan.
Schumer is the creator, star, and writer of Inside Amy Schumer, her Comedy Central TV show. Schumer, who is Jewish, has appeared in several television shows including Girls and recently performed a standup special called "Mostly Sex Stuff." She is collaborating with comedy filmmaker Judd Apatow on an upcoming feature film.
"I feel like it's my bat mitzvah," Schumer announced as she came to the stage and looked at the audience of young Jews.
Much of her act focused on growing older, now that she is all of 32.
She also joked about the mixed messaging women get in society, including in women's magazines, asking the impossible of their readers. "Be Asian," Schumer said the magazines might say, "and I'm like 'I can't!'"
Schumer differentiated between her married friends and her single self, and some of her friends who she says are, unfortunately, getting divorced. She never knows how to console her friends who are splitting up. “Is there a card that says, ‘what did you expect? You met at a Flip Cup tournament’?”
Who doesn't love donuts?
Gaffigan, known for his standup comedy on food and laziness, has appeared on talk shows like Late Show with David Letterman and Conan, and in movies like Away We Go and Going the Distance. He recently wrote a humor book, called Dad is Fat, about being the father of five young children.
Much of Gaffigan's act focused on his love of foods that are bad for you. "Do you ever look at a prescription that says [not to] take on an empty stomach? That's never a concern of mine. You're not supposed to go swimming [right after you eat.] So technically I should never go swimming. If you saw me in a pool, you'd be like 'arrest that man.'"
Gaffigan said his wife, who he says is much thinner and more health conscious than him, recently witnessed him eating an entire pint of ice cream. "'Jim, you have a 9-year-old daughter. Don't you want to be at her wedding?'" she asked him. "Not really--wait is there going to be ice cream at her wedding?… Why would attending a wedding be an incentive? It's like, 'Don't die because in 18 years there's an awkward party you have to pay for.'"
On Saturday night, though, the Big Event revelers were there for a very un-awkward party--the biggest party of the year for young Jews in Chicago.
A special thank you to YLD's Big Event Lead Sponsor Eleven Lincoln Park; Platinum Sponsors Associated Agencies, Inc. and Chubb Group of InsuranceCompanies, BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois, Burns & Wilcox, Charles E. Dobrusin and Associates, and Joe Help; and Event Sponsors Bub City, Emporium Arcade Bar, Hub 51, JFS Realty Capital, Paris Club, RJ Grunts, RPM ITALIAN, Synergy Construction Group, Three Dots and Dash and SPLASH: A Wrapports Publication; Thank you also to Mercadito Hospitality for their support of this event. Another special thank you to the 150 Table Hosts whose support of this event made it an enormous success.
Visit the YLD Facebook page to see photos from the event and for a list of upcoming YLD events, visit yldchicago.org.