"I'm sort of a lifer," Andrew S. Hochberg says of his involvement with the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago and Chicago's Jewish community. And life, of course, is filled with change and challenge.
As the new JUF/Federation Chairman of the Board, Hochberg is the lead volunteer of one of the largest charitable and social service networks in the country, an organization that each year touches the lives of more than 500,000 Chicagoans of all faiths, and millions of Jews in Israel and around the world.
It also is a 119-year-old organization that is constantly evolving, adapting to massive generational, social, and attitudinal shifts that mirror those throughout society.
And it is an organization that, on his watch, will be getting its first new chief executive in four decades.
"JUF and the Federation have an unparalleled record of caring for those in need and of strengthening our diverse community," Hochberg said. "Our task today, or at least a vital part of it, is to continue finding ways to champion the historic values that define us, while welcoming and embracing new generations with new ideas, perspectives, and styles."
One way to do that, he says, is to "continuously deepen JUF's relationship with each generation of the families that are its core. Another is to actively engage board members in the work JUF and the Federation do, to reinforce their personal connection to helping those its affiliated agencies serve. A third is to rethink the ways the community provides services, such as Jewish education, to reflect the rapid institutional and lifestyle changes that are occurring."
Some of those approaches mirror both the path and evolution of Hochberg's own life. His parents, Barbara z"l and Larry, always were deeply involved with JUF/Federation. His father chaired the Annual Campaign in 1981. His mother did the same in 1990, and seven years later became the first woman to chair the Board-the same position Andy holds today, albeit in a very different technological, cultural, and political era.
Hochberg, now 56, was involved from an early age, as well. He recalls that when he was 9 or so, he participated in JUF's Walk With Israel. No one thought he could walk very far, so they made large pledges for each mile he went. When he was finished, he was one of the top fundraisers of the event.
But in his 20s, he began to ask why he was doing what he was doing. After several trips to Israel and campus Jewish leadership positions, he started to explore his Judaism more, and Jewish life became a larger part of his personal life.
He became more religious. He studied on a regular basis. And as he and his soon-to-be wife, Laurie, began to build their life together, they decided to have a kosher wedding and to keep a traditional home. Andy's sister and brother-in-law, Amy and John Lowenstein, provided inspiration and influence by sending their children to Solomon Schechter Day School, a decision that Andy and Laurie followed.
Andy and Laurie find that embracing Jewish values in their families, along with sharing traditions with their extended families, leads to warm, close relationships that foster lifelong memories and support not only for each other, but for the community, as well.
As time went on, Andy became even more active in JUF and the Federation, joining the Board and taking on key roles. In 2008, he chaired the Annual Campaign, which raised a then-record $83.8 million. As Chair of the Overall Planning and Allocations Committee last year, he played a central role in the distribution of $182.3 million to aid those in need and strengthen the community.
He also has headed the Real Estate and Government Affairs committees, helped spearhead the innovative Jewish Day School Guaranty Trust Fund, and has received the Federation's Davis, Gidwitz & Glasser Young Leadership and Shofar awards.
Beyond JUF, Hochberg cofounded CityPac, a bipartisan political action committee dedicated to strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship, and has received its Henry Jackson Pro-Israel Advocacy Award. He also served on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Commission and the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces board.
Professionally, Hochberg is CEO of Next Realty LLC, an investment and management firm he founded 20 years ago. That was his "next" step after serving as CEO of Sportmart, the 70-store sports retailer his family sold in 1998.
He holds an economics degree from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business, and a law degree from Northwestern University.
Hochberg and his wife, a pediatrician, live in Highland Park and are members of North Suburban Synagogue Beth El. All four of their children have been active in a variety of organizations, including Hillel, Keshet, AIPAC, and JUF. They also have participated in the Lewis Summer Intern Program and Write On for Israel.
The big idea of engaging all generations of a family clearly reflects personal experience.