When JUF's Young Leadership Division hosted its first annual 'Big Event' fundraiser 10 years ago, it was indeed a big event, with some 700 Jewish young adults gathering to hear the music of Jewish reggae artist Matisyahu one Chanukah night in 2008.
A decade later, the now-annual event has tripled in size. Last Saturday, Dec. 9, more than 2,000 young Jewish Chicagoans packed the Sheraton Chicago hotel for the comedy show and fundraiser, which this year featured Saturday Night Live alum David Spade-the Emmy-nominated TV and film star known for his hilarious roles in Joe Dirt, Tommy Boy, Grown Ups, and Just Shoot Me .
"It was so amazing to see over 2,000 young people come together to celebrate the important work of JUF," said Lisa Tarshis, 2017-2018 YLD President. "It was an incredible evening filled with laughter, fun and friends."
Over the last decade, top comedians including Jimmy Fallon, Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, Aziz Ansari, Seth Meyers, and Key & Peele have headlined the event-but what hasn't changed is that YLD's Big Event Fundraiser is the place to be each year for young Chicago Jews to demonstrate their commitment to the community. Since the inaugural event 10 years ago, generous young adults have donated more than $3 million to support JUF's work transforming the lives of over 500,000 Chicagoans of all faiths-and millions of Jews worldwide.
"Together, we have accomplished so much as a community," said Courtney Cohen, 2018 YLD Campaign Chair. "We couldn't be more proud of how this event has grown in the past ten years to become the largest annual gathering of Jewish young adults in the country. I look forward to seeing what the next ten years will bring!"
The show was preceded by a special VIP reception at the Loews Chicago Hotel for members of the Ben-Gurion Society (BGS), a national donor recognition society for adults age 25-45 who make a contribution of at least $1,000 to the JUF Annual Campaign. Here in Chicago, there are over 700 BGS members, accounting for almost $3 million of the annual campaign.
Spade's set was followed by an after-party, also at the Loews, featuring two hours of open bar, late-night food, and live music-and, for those who wanted to keep the party going all night long, an after-after party sponsored by Hubbard Inn.
The event was originally scheduled to feature James Corden, but he was unable to attend due to a private family matter.
Known for his sarcastic wit, award-winning comedy veteran David Spade jumped in to keep the crowd entertained with a hilarious stand-up set featuring wry commentary on some of life's more mundane moments-including the travails of travel, that moment when the scale doesn't say what you'd expect at your annual physical, and eating out alone.
"Sometimes you go to a restaurant and it says 'market price.' I think this is the biggest scam. I think the waiter just tries to guess how rich you are," Spade told the crowd.
With his token self-deprecation, Spade also joked about his unsuccessful attempts to pick up women, his horror at catching a glimpse of himself in a nine-way mirror at a department store, and how he likes to throw in friend and frequent co-star Adam Sandler's name everywhere he goes.
"I go to McDonalds, 'Oh, you do don't have the McRib anymore? Adam Sandler's not gonna like this!"
In an exclusive post-show interview, Spade gave us inside scoop on his upcoming audiobook, movie for Netflix, and work on new political sitcom The Mayor with Lea Michele and Brandon Michael Hall.
"It's been fun, it's so different for me," he said of The Mayor . "It's fun to get thrown into a different situation like that. Everyone's very sweet and I think there's some really talented people."
JUF's Young Leadership Division is committed to building a better Jewish community in Chicago, Israel, and around the world. Dollars raised for the 2018 JUF Annual Campaign at YLD's Big Event Fundraiser are allocated to a network of nearly 70 agencies and programs that care for 500,000 Chicagoans of all faiths and two million Jews around the world.
A special thank you to YLD's Big Event Fundraiser Corporate Sponsors: Lead Sponsors - Eleven City Diner and The Gallery Luxury Residences/Magellan Development. Platinum Sponsors - Chicago Financial Services, The Cohn Weisskopf Oxman Group at Morgan Stanley, and Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises Inc., Event Sponsors - HFF. Table Host Program Sponsor - DineAmic group. After-After Party Sponsor - Hubbard Inn. Supporter - Sheraton Grand. Another special thank you to the 150 Table Hosts whose support of this event made it an enormous success.
For photos from YLD's Big Event Fundraiser, check out YLD's Facebook page at facebook.com/ChicagoYLD . For more information, visit yldchicago.org .