Raising Good People
My good friend sent her oldest son to basic training this past weekend as we celebrated America’s birthday during a global pandemic. Her son, a recent Glenbrook North High School graduate, self-selected to join the army to serve his country–and I could not be prouder of their family and commitment to community and the greater good.
I met the Geffen family in 2011 when our younger sons were elementary school classmates. Our family friendship quickly grew through a love of baseball, good food and an ease in spending time together. The Geffen family owns a local chain of restaurants with a well-deserved reputation for bringing people together. Shana Geffen is a current JCC Chicago Board member and the business she and her husband Steve own, The Once Upon A Restaurant Group, is a founder and ongoing supporter of the JCC Chicago Jewish Film Festival. They are always willing to lend a meal, or a hand and a smile. And they have passed those qualities on to their children in so many ways.
So, it is no surprise that their sons are J supporters and community minded as well. Andrew and Nathan Geffen were JCC Chicago Maccabi athletes and their dad Steve was a JCC Chicago Maccabi 15U Baseball Coach last summer in Atlanta. Throughout high school Andrew, their oldest son, was a leader both on and off the field. Because of his athleticism and desire to grow his physical strength, he began training with a personal trainer with a military background and an ex- IDF soldier. Both of these men had a profound impact on Andrew and his choice to dedicate his post-high school life to serve our country. Watching Andrew’s determination to pursue a military path and his parent’s unwavering support has been truly inspiring to me as a bystander and family friend.
As a parent of a 15-year-old boy, I feel immense responsibility to raise a good adult. I am constantly reminded, especially during these very unusual times, that I am parenting for the tomorrow and not just today. Watching my friends and their family support and allow their son to dedicate his mind, heart, body and spirit to our country and future of our nation has moved me. Their journey has provided me faith and assurance that we will be able to depend on our youth and the leaders that are being created within our community daily.
Andrew Geffen was a Northbrook Travel baseball and Glenbrook Spartan Lacrosse teammate. He sold bagels and helped weekly at his family restaurants, was a counselor at Hot Ground Gym, and their family are active members at BJBE congregation; in so many ways, he could be any of our sons. I am so grateful that I am part of his circle and that he is part of our community and the future of our nation.
– Ali Friduss
Ali is the Director of Development at JCC Chicago. She lives in Northbrook with her husband Paul and 2 children, Ethan (15) and Lauren (13).