All eyes were on him, but young Jakey Glatz was poised and confident as he guided his audience—downtown businessmen, many of them old enough to be his grandfather—through the intricacies of the Talmudic teaching he was parsing.
An 8th grader at Arie Crown Hebrew Day School, Jakey had been selected from his class to give a class at the conference room of Mr. Marc Geller, a diamond merchant famous for hosting daily Mincha and a Torah shiur that attracts business people yearning for a bit of spirituality in the midst of the busy work day.
While the regular roster of divrei Torah are from rebbis, roshei yeshivah, and other accomplished scholars, Jakey seemed right at home presenting his Talmudic musings and even fielding questions from his astute listeners. “I wasn’t nervous,” says Jakey, who was recently presented the Rabbi Menachem B. Sachs Z”L achievement award at his 8th grade graduation on June 12th. “It felt great, and I was excited to do it.” The coveted award recognized his outstanding effort in learning and character development.
The base of his talk came from a question he asked that had stumped his rebbi, Rabbi Shlomo Neuberger, who encouraged him to explore the issue and expand it into a full-blown class, which he presented to his peers at school and then downtown.
It was a crowning achievement the boy’s father, local real estate broker Andrew Glatz, could have never even imagined.
“I grew up in Lincolnwood with no Jewish education and no Jewish identity,” says the elder Glatz, “My parents where children of Holocaust survivors, and Yiddishkeit went up the chimneys in Auschwitz for my family.”
It all changed in 2000, when he was 23 years old and ‘happened’ to meet a Lubavitcher Chassid named Boruch Duchman as they both waited to pick up food at a kosher restaurant. Duchman, who lives in Miami, introduced the young man to Rabbi Boruch Hertz of Bnei Ruven. The next day, the rabbi helped him put on tefillin, and the two began learning regularly.
Within weeks, Glatz was spending Shabbos at the Hertz home and incorporating more and more Judaism into his life.
Together, the two co-founded Chabad of Lakeview. Today, the Chabad center is directed by Rabbi Dovid and Devorah Leah Kotlarsky.
When Glatz met his wife, Elise, he was gratified to learn that her family had an old connection with Bnei Ruven and Rabbi Hertz (she was named at the synagogue). In fact, the Torah used at their 2003 aufruf had been donated to the congregation by her father in memory of his parents.
Nostalgia aside, Glatz is focused firmly on the future. “It’s touching and amazingly inspiring to see our three children growing up in a Torah environment, something I didn’t even know existed when I was their age. And it all came from a ‘chance’ encounter at a restaurant.”