A Jew You Should Know

Chicago is full of talented and interesting Jewish young adults doing cool things. We ask eight questions of a number of Jews you absolutely should know.

Laurie Akers
About 10 years ago, Laurie Akers traded the Broadway stage for the bimah and never looked back.
8 Questions for Melanie Kahn photo 1
Melanie Kahn’s venture started with a citrus craving while pregnant.
8 Questions for Abbie Matz photo 1
Abbie Matz created a short film, “Cultural Inheritance: Stories of Grandchildren of Soviet Jewish Immigrants.”
8 Questions for Dustin Finkel and Ryan Meczyk photo
Finkel and his partner, Ryan Meczyk, met through a mutual acquaintance from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and shared a vision for an innovative snack company, Ancient inGRAINed.
8 Questions for Ashley and Scott Portman photo 1
If you're on the prowl for the perfect present to celebrate a newborn simcha, Ashley and Scott have you covered.
8 Questions for the Owners of theCoderSchool photo 1
Justin and Robin Brown and Chad and Karen Kreindler are bringing innovative computer programming education to the North Shore.
8 Questions for Ethan Blumenthal photo
When his dreams of playing professional baseball fell through, Ethan Blumenthal turned to comedy.
Scott Hollander
Scott Hollander might seem like a pretty savvy, traditional Chicagoan, but he’s actually something of a mold-breaker. In fact, he broke that mold with an axe.
8 Questions for Danny Dubin photo 1

After talking to Dubin, it’s obvious that magic is at the core of his soul. He talks about it like, well, like magic is real.

8 Questions for Hannah Brown photo
This fall, Hannah Brown is going to get married over and over again -- in front of an audience.
7 Questions for Zach Friedlander photo
If you have visited the food stalls at the French Market downtown in the past month, there is one line in particular that exceeds all others. The line is so long, in fact, they had to create additional space in the market just for the line.
8 Questions for Noah Plotkin photo 1

Wedding season is upon us, and if you happen to have a lot of Chicago simchas, keep an eye out for the Gold Coast All Stars and their talented percussionist chilling in the back with the groovy long hair and mustache. That’s Noah Plotkin – a rhythmic master and Jew you should know.

8 Questions for Ashley O’Brien photo

Toward the end of last year, Ashley O'Brien put her love of Hebrew, rap lyrics, puns and graphic design to good use by starting Hebrewish Designs, an Etsy shop that quickly went viral on Twitter, Instagram and beyond.

8 Questions for Jeremy Klaben photo
Jeremy Klaben is working to make Chicago brighter. His new restaurant, Brightwok Kitchen, located at 21 E. Adams St., is one of the more unique fast-casual bright spots in the Loop.
8 Questions for Becky Marks photo

The lunch salad is a staple of so many people’s work weeks, and now, downtown Chicago commuters have a lunch salad they truly “Be Leaf” in.

8 Questions for Charlie Schwartz photo

God recently spoke to Rabbi Charlie Schwartz. Which is weird, because he doesn't believe in a God that has a voice.

8 Questions for Simon Feil photo_md

You may not know Simon Feil’s name, but you’ve likely seen his face. Perhaps he was cooking in the movie Julie & Julia, or being startled by the ‘80s in a Delta flight safety video, or giving a young Bruce Wayne a good talking to on Gotham. Look out for him next time you turn on Netflix.

8 Questions for David Schwartzbaum photo_md

I met David Schwartzbaum at JCC Apachi Day Camp, and have worked with him there in a number of capacities over the last five years, but our connection also extends beyond entertaining Jewish children and into the realm of performance theater. David started performing theater and comedy in Miami before moving to Philadelphia and becoming the founder and co-artistic director of The Off-Color Theatre Company.

8 Questions for Sonat Birnecker Hart photo_md

In 2008, Sonat Birnecker Hart, an esteemed teacher, lecturer and writer on Jewish Studies and German Jewish Cultural History, gave up her tenure and started making whiskey. While traveling and teaching in Europe and the U.S. was, for Hart, a “joyful way to keep the world of my grandparents and great grandparents alive,” when it came time to start her own family, she decided she wanted a lifestyle where she could work with her children close at hand. So, she and her husband, Robert Birnecker, moved back to Hart’s hometown of Chicago and opened KOVAL, Chicago’s first distillery since the 1800s.

8 Questions for Drs. Romy Block and Arielle Levitan photo_md

Take your vitamins, Oy!sters, because this time, it’s personal. Drs. Romy Block and Arielle Levitan are two doctors (and friends) practicing on the North Shore and changing the way consumers think about vitamins and supplements. That’s right, the days of Flinstones chewable vitamins are long gone. Time to wise up.

8 questions for Sara Grossman photo_md

Sara Grossman is taking a stand – against sitting. On nasty toilet seats that is. Earlier this year, the Lincoln Park native launched a new product that looks to literally change the way women pee. Called the Stand Up, this “biodegradable, disposable peeing accessory” allows for a guilt-free, hygienic bathroom experience for women tired of holding it in, squatting or resorting to any other gross or undignified way of going number one.

8 Questions for Meg Grunewald photo_md

For Meg Grunewald, comedy has many faces. And wigs. And voices. The Chicago-raised comedian and veteran of Chicago’s improv and sketch comedy scene says she has always loved impressions and creating characters, a specialty she has chosen to highlight for the entire month of August in a “character a day” project.

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