Double Chai in the Chi
Zev Eleff Portrait
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Zev Eleff

For many people, writing a book is a bucket list item they hope to cross off one day; Rabbi Dr. Zev Eleff, at the age of 31, has already written six (and another 30 published articles). His subject of choice is American Jewish history, a field in which he's fast become an expert. Some recent titles include "Modern Orthodox Judaism: A Documentary History" and "Who Rules the Synagogue? Religious Authority and the Formation of American Judaism."

Although his post is at Chicago's Hebrew Theological College, Zev devotes himself to teaching everywhere in the community that he can. Believing that a scholar must also be an educator, he admits to rarely turning down a request. As such, he has taught at more than two dozen local schools and synagogues teaching classes and delivering lectures.

Zev is also a board member for the Chicago Jewish Historical Society and belongs to Congregation KINS in West Rogers Park.



Primary gig:

Chief Academic Officer at Hebrew Theological College

On the side:

Bedtime raconteur (specializing in the adventures of Princess Meital and Nasty Nudnik)

Relationship status:


Celebrity doppelganger/who would play you in a movie:

Simba from the Lion King, before he grows up and bulks up.

Something most people don’t know about me:

I’m a helpless Billy Joel fan. Two years ago, my wife, Melissa, surprised me on my birthday with tickets to a Fenway Park performance.

Chicago's Jewish community in 10 years:

Chicago is blessed with a rare confluence of senior and junior leaders. That so many young people feel empowered to assume mantles of leadership while veteran leaders remain fully engaged in their important roles is a testament to the vitality of vibrancy of this community. Historians typically make for poor prophets. However, it is apparent, to me anyway, that Chicago will remain a pillar of American Zionism and at the forefront of creative and dynamic communal activity.