Head of Chicago’s Jewish community to step down after almost 40 years
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Head of Chicago’s Jewish community to step down after almost 40 years

Since taking helm in 1979, Steven Nasatir's Jewish United Fund has distributed nearly $7 billion to charitable causes, serving around 300,000 Jews in Chicago area

Steven Nasatir, the outgoing CEO of Chicago’s Jewish federation, pictured in 2017. (YouTube screenshot).
Steven Nasatir, the outgoing CEO of Chicago’s Jewish federation, pictured in 2017. (YouTube screenshot).

JTA — Steven Nasatir, the longtime CEO of Chicago’s Jewish federation, will be moving into another role next year, after four decades on the job.

Nasatir, 73, is the longest-serving CEO of any Jewish federation. His organization, called the Jewish United Fund, has distributed nearly $7 billion to charitable causes since he took the job in 1979. According to Bloomberg, it is the largest social service agency in Illinois. It serves some 300,000 Jews in the Chicago area.

JUF also reports that its fundraising has increased in recent years, even as other federations have seen declining numbers. Last year, it raised a total of $300 million that it, like other Jewish federations, then distributed to charitable causes locally, nationally, and internationally, in Israel and elsewhere.

“We, who have dedicated ourselves to JUF/Jewish Federation and who continue to devote our lives to serving our community, are privileged,” Nasatir wrote in a letter Monday announcing the move. “We helped create a Jewish community whose strength and impact are unprecedented.”

Nasatir wrote that he was most proud of the federation’s resettling Jewish refugees from the Soviet Union and elsewhere, as well as its work funding institutions locally and financial support of Israel. In 2004, during the second Palestinian uprising, or intifada, JUF raised more money for Israel per capita than any other Jewish federation.

Immigrants from the former Soviet Union attend an event at the Jerusalem Convention Center to mark the 25th anniversary of the great immigration wave which began in 1990, December 24, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

JUF will convene a yearlong search for its new CEO, with the aim of replacing Nasatir in June 2019. He began working for the organization in 1971, and will continue to work there as executive vice chairman, with a reduced portfolio. According to Haaretz, as of 2015, he was one of the highest-paid federation executives in the country.

“He’s really unparalleled in his accomplishments and his leadership, and we’re just very happy he’ll continue with us in a new role,” JUF Chairman Michael Zaransky said. “He is an extraordinarily rare individual who’s had an extraordinary career, and he’s affected not just the Chicago Jewish community, but the broader philanthropic world.”

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