Get to Know JUF President Lonnie Nasatir

Here's more about his POV -- and what keeps him up at night.

Get to Know JUF President Lonnie Nasatir photo image

On July 1, Lonnie Nasatir became only the fifth person in JUF's 119-year history to become President and Chief Executive. He previously served as the Anti-Defamation League's longtime Regional Director of the Greater Chicago/Upper Midwest area, distinguishing himself as a community leader in fighting antisemitism and all forms of bigotry.

In addition to having big dreams for our community, Lonnie is an avid sports fan who loves a wide range of music, has a passion for Jewish culture and has some surprising hidden talents! Here's more about his POV -- and what keeps him up at night.

Favorite Jewish holiday

Passover -- the combination of bringing people together, the food, and telling the story of the Exodus from Egypt is so powerful.

Favorite Jewish food

My wife's brisket

If you could invite anyone to Shabbat dinner, who would it be?

Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks

Favorite Yiddish word

Schmendrick -- it just says it all.

Favorite PJ Library Book

Friday Nights with Nana, which I read to my eldest at least 100 times!

Favorite volunteering memory

Serving food at the JUF Uptown Cafe, and doing it with my children -- teaching them the importance of giving back and letting them know there are some people who don't have the good fortune of having meals every day.

First Israel experience

When I was 16 years old, I went to Israel with three of my good friends from high school, and I was blown away -- blown away by the history, blown away by the connection that I felt and, most importantly, it made me really feel for the first time how important my Jewish identity is.

Baseball -- North Side or South Side?

South side all the way!

Favorite moment at Comiskey?

When Ron Kittle hit a rooftop home run, which didn't happen very often.

Favorite in the new park?

While we didn't win the championship in 2005 at the new stadium, I was at game one when we beat Roger Clemens and the Houston Astros.

Favorite Chicago sports legend

Walter Payton -- both the way he played and the way he held himself as a person.

Best Bulls encounter growing up in Highland Park

Seeing Tony Kukoc at Once Upon A Bagel

First job

Coaching baseball, soccer and basketball my sophomore year of high school

Seinfeld or Sandler?

Seinfeld, for sure. Seinfeld to me is the crème de la crème of comedy.

Favorite Seinfeld episode

The Junior Mints® episode

Kugel or brisket?

I've got to go with brisket, because it's more decadent. And with kugel…well, there's the dairy issue!

Favorite Chicago neighborhood

The neighborhood around Sox Park. I love the energy; I love the passion before a game.

Best festival memory

Chicago Jazzfest the year after I graduated college, when 15 of my closest friends from college came together and listened to great music for three days.

Hidden talents

I have a good jump shot, and I'm actually a decent singer.

Go-to karaoke song

Bob Seger's Night Moves, much to the embarrassment of my children.

First concert

Styx during the Grand Illusion tour

Favorite Jewish artist

Paul Simon

Favorite JUF event

I love them all, but if I had to pick one, I've had a great time over the years at YLD's Big Event Fundraiser. To see thousands of your people come together for a great cause, have a good time and walk away feeling like they learned a little bit about JUF makes my night.

Best advice you've gotten

The art of good listening isn't waiting to say something.

What do you want people to know about you?

At my core, I really am a collaborator, and bringing people together is something that I have always done, I do it well, and that's what makes me so excited about this next challenge in my professional life.

What do you want JUF to stand for in the community?

I want JUF to stand for ethics, inclusivity and kindness.

What do you believe Chicago's greatest social service need is today?

Providing services for children who are the victims of violence or who have seen violence in their everyday life.

What keeps you up at night?

The fact that my daughters will be dating soon! What keeps me up at night from a professional standpoint is: Will our community continue to be strong, to be proud, and to figure out ways that we can connect with all Jews from all different walks of life, and make sure that the experience is rich and that we have a connection with them, no matter where they are on their life path.

What's the most important issue facing Jewish kids?

The pull to just assimilate and relinquish your religious and Jewish heritage, and that is something that is really specific to each person. We really hope that people, while they want to be a part of something, don't forget who they are and where they come from. 

What's your point of view on antisemitism right now?

Unfortunately, we are at a time in American history where antisemitism is making its way into the mainstream, which is a real concern. It feels different than it did even five years ago, let alone 10 or 15 years ago, and we as a community -- not just the Jewish community, but the overall community -- need to stand up and call it out. 

How about your point of view on nonprofit world realities?

The reality of the nonprofit space is that there are so many great nonprofits doing such great work, and the role for all of us to figure out is ways that we in the nonprofit space can work together, leverage each other's strengths and try to figure out ways we can distinguish each other from one another, and make sure the donor understands those distinctions.

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