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Meet Our Staff
Our exceptional, attentive staff all live and work in our community and are always here for you. Each person shares an extraordinary dedication to the families we serve. We can help you find a wide variety of support – from healthcare to preneed to funeral services that honor the strong traditions of the Jewish people.
David I Jacobson, Founder
In August 1997, David Jacobson founded Chicago Jewish Funerals because he believed there was a need to provide a service that was as attentive to the needs of the bereaved as it was to the strong traditions of the Jewish people. An active member of the Jewish community, David is a leading expert on Kavod Hamet, the Jewish traditions of honoring and respecting the dead. He is a frequent speaker at many of the Chicago area’s congregations, community groups and schools. He is often asked to speak to young people and their families about the dying process, Jewish funeral traditions and bereavement. He currently serves on the boards of many Jewish organizations and is a member of several synagogues throughout the Jewish community. He is also an active member of several local chambers of commerce where his entrepreneurial and community spirit provide leadership and guidance. David lives in Evanston with his wife Iris, their three children Talia, Gabriel and Ruby-Sage, and their dog Phoebe. Click here to watch a video about David Jacobson.
Simcha Frank, Funeral Director
Simcha is a dedicated family man whose family extends to those he serves. He takes a gentle pride in knowing that he will always go above and beyond for his family and yours. With genuine sincerity, he honestly and sensitively answers all your questions, guiding families through a myriad of decisions. They quickly understand his commitment is his word.
Simcha joined Chicago Jewish Funerals in 1999. He is a member at Kehilat Jacob Beit Samuel.
Originally from Monsey, New York, Simcha was educated at the Yeshiva Bais Yisroel and Cope Institute. He has worked as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in New York and did extensive work with high-risk children including as a youth counselor for three years in a summer camp in upstate New York. Simcha has been instrumental in forming Hatzalah Chicago, an all-volunteer emergency medical service, where he serves on the Board of Directors. Simcha is also a member of the Skokie Chamber of Commerce.
He currently resides in Lincolnwood with his wife Chana and their four children Malka, Devorah, Sarah and Yackov . Watch video
Jeremy Seaver, Funeral Director
Jeremy’s active role in the Jewish community strengthens our connection to the people we serve. His deep understanding of Jewish culture helps families navigate the special customs and traditions of a Jewish funeral. His profound sense of community provides a very personal kind of comfort and support during a difficult time.
Jeremy joined Chicago Jewish Funerals in 2004. Jeremy and his family are active members of Temple Beth Israel (Skokie) and Congregation Or Shalom (Vernon Hills). He enjoys his role on the steering committee for the Greater Chicago Jewish Festival. Jeremy has led two “birthright israel” experiences along with the Community Foundation for Jewish Education’s “Ta’am Yisrael” trips to Israel. He often speaks on Jewish funeral customs at religious schools and at community forums. Jeremy can also be found leading services with his guitar and singing folk songs.
He previously served as the Assistant Director at the Hillel Foundation at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Jeremy worked many summers at Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, where he was a song leader and Unit Head. He is a graduate of Worsham College of Mortuary Science, and earned his B.S. in Human Resources and Family Studies from the University of Illinois.
Jeremy lives in Indian Creek with his wife Lauren and their three sons, Noah, Zachary, and A.J. Watch video
Douglas MacIsaac, Funeral Director
Douglas understands that every detail matters. He carefully guides families through the funeral process, supporting and honoring Jewish traditions. He always anticipates questions and concerns and has a special gift to helping people make the decisions that work best for their family. Douglas believes that when he earns a family’s confidence to take care of everything (including the things they never thought about), families can grieve the way they need to.
Douglas joined Chicago Jewish Funerals in March of 2001. During his career he has received commendations from; The American Red Cross, Illinois Governor Jim Edgar, American Airlines (flight #4184), the Illinois and Indiana Funeral Director’s Associations, the Illinois Emergency Response Team, the Indiana Disaster Response Team and the National Foundation for Mortuary Care.
Prior to coming to Chicago Jewish Funerals, Douglas was a Funeral Director at Weinstein Brothers, (now Weinstein Family Services, owned by Service Corporation International (SCI)) where he worked from 1988 to 1996. He began his funeral service career in 1983 at Glueckert Funeral Home Ltd., Arlington Heights. He is a former instructor of Small Business Management, and a former laboratory instructor of Embalming, Restorative Art and Anatomy Dissection at Worsham College of Mortuary Science, in Wheeling. Douglas has a Bachelors of Science in Management, and is a 1985 graduate of Worsham College of Mortuary Science. He is a licensed Funeral Director in Illinois.
He currently resides in Arlington Heights with his wife Suzanne and their two surviving children Justin and Benjamin. Watch video
Peggi Lake, Funeral Director
Peggi’s warm, caring approach to funeral planning is a lifeline for families enduring a difficult time. She listens carefully to what they need and then does everything possible to make it happen. She never says, “No,” but “let me see what I can do.” Peggi believes that her compassion can help make the funeral a positive, healing process, so families can grieve the way they need to.
Peggi joined Chicago Jewish Funerals in 2003. She was a volunteer for the Center on Deafness in Northbrook and the Mentally Handicapped Recreation program in Joliet, with a working knowledge of sign language. Also has volunteered for Buddy Baseball and is a member of the Chamber of Commerce in Buffalo Grove.
Peggi previously worked at Weinstein Brothers, (now Weinstein Family Services, owned by Service Corporation International (SCI) for 15 years. She is a graduate of Worsham College of Mortuary Science, and earned her BA in Journalism/Communications from the University of St. Francis in 1983.
Peggi lives in Buffalo Grove with her husband Jay Calcaterra and their two children, Kyle and Cori. Watch video
Judy Engels Greenberg, Funeral Director
Judy demonstrates compassion, dedication and deep respect for each family as she guides them through this most difficult time.As a Jewish funeral director, she takes a quiet pride in the fact that the families place their trust in her.
She joined Chicago Jewish Funerals in 2010. In 1981, along with her family, Judy immigrated from the former Soviet Union to Chicago. This gave Judy the freedom to practice Jewish culture and traditions. Being bi-lingual, also gives her the opportunity to assist the Russian speaking community.
Judy has been serving the Chicagoland Jewish community as a Funeral Director since 1995. She was previously with Weinstein Brothers, (now Weinstein Family Services, owned by Service Corporation International (SCI) for 16 years. She is a graduate of Worsham College of Mortuary Science and University of Illinois at Chicago.
Judy and her husband Greg, along with their children, reside in Northbrook. Watch video
Jacquelyn Jasinski, Funeral Director
Jacquelyn is an advocate for both the family and the deceased and finds meaning in helping families through the transition that they experience with the death of a loved one. She continues to work towards creating a more caring experience and providing a higher level of service for grieving families in need of gentle and compassionate guidance.
Jacquelyn joined Chicago Jewish Funerals in 2004. She enjoys the many cultural and artistic events that take place in Chicago, reading and spending time with friends and family.
She previously spent many years traveling and has worked and lived throughout the country. Jacquelyn has an associate’s degree in Mortuary Arts and Sciences from Worsham College of Mortuary Arts and Science and previously attended the University of Wisconsin and Christopher Newport University in Virginia.
Jacquelyn lives with her husband and their son in Palatine. Watch video
Ellissa Reiner, Funeral Director
Ellissa sees her compassion and communication as invaluable when providing guidance to the bereaved. This allows her to quickly and thoroughly create the best possible service for a family during a difficult time.
Ellissa joined Chicago Jewish Funerals in 2007. As a practicing Catholic, she is also a student of other religions with a particular interest in the Jewish faith. Her interests include pottery, genealogy and spending time with family and friends.
She is a graduate of Worsham College of Mortuary Science and previously attended College of DuPage.
Ellissa lives with her husband, Richard, in Carol Stream with their rescue dog, Birdie. Watch video
Susan Winkelstein, Funeral Director
Susan, one of the first female funeral directors in Illinois, has been a pioneering woman in Jewish funeral service, having paved the road for the many who have followed after her. Her interest in this noble occupation was initially inspired upon the occasion of her grandmother’s sudden death. Susan, who was in high school at the time, observed the caring attitude of the funeral director, and the positive impact that he had on her family. From that experience forward, Susan wanted to extend that “care” to others through funeral experience. It was “beshert”.
Susan came to Chicago Jewish Funerals in 2012 with more than 20 years of experience in Jewish Funeral Service. She is well known for her caring attitude and attention to detail by all in the funeral industry and Jewish Community. Susan is a member of Anshe Emet Synagogue in the Lakeview area of Chicago, where she and her husband, Michel, were married in 1987. She and Michel reside in the River North neighborhood, not far from Michel’s law practice. They are the proud parents of Max, who lives in Roger’s Park.
Samuel “Shmuli” Bernhaut
Samuel “Shmuli” Bernhaut serves as the Shomer Coordinator, Chauffeur, and Dedication Ceremony facilitator with Chicago Jewish Funerals. Shmuli's daily commitment to Torah/Talmudic studies helps him comfort families during difficult times explaining the spiritual aspects of death and a Jewish funeral. His deeply rooted foundation in Jewish laws and traditions helps answer many families questions during their time of loss.
Shmuli joined Chicago Jewish Funerals in 2008. Shmuli and his family are active at Congregation Kehal Chasidim and Hebrew Theological College, where they serve on numerous committees. Shmuli is a committed member of the Chicago Chesed Organization, Yachad and Chai Life-line. Shmuli previously served for eleven years as a volunteer EMT for Chevrah Hatzolah of Brooklyn saving countless lives in emergency situations.
Prior to working for Chicago Jewish Funerals, he was Director of Sales & Marketing for a houseware’s manufacturer.
Shmuli also ran a family import business in Brooklyn for ten years before he and his family moved to Chicago, his wife's home-town. He earned a B.S. in business from Brooklyn College after completing 3 years of post high school intensive Talmudical studies in Denver, Colorado & then Bayit Vegan, Israel.
Shmuli lives in West Rogers Park with his wife Shelby and their five sons, Eli, Isaac, Meier, Joseph David and Yedidya.
Faith Avner, Director of Advanced Planning
Faith’s engaging warmth and abundant good humor put families and community groups at ease when she speaks about life cycle events. In her various combinations of professional and lay leadership roles, Faith teaches and nurtures people of all ages. She brings comfort and compassion to our families during the process of advance planning funerals for themselves or loved ones.
Faith joined Chicago Jewish Funerals in 2001. In her spare time, she tutors B’nai Mitzvah students, an experience she has enjoyed for over 40 years. Faith has served on Congregation B'nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim’s Board of Directors for over 35 years, where her family has been a member her whole life. In the summer of 2003, she expanded her volunteer work internationally as she chaperoned a youth delegation from Congregation BJBE to the Czech Republic, where they cleaned the cemeteries and visited the synagogues in the town of Kolin, the original home of their holocaust Torah. That same year, she also, with her son, visited the Abayudaya, a Jewish community in Uganda to deliver supplies to her school (their pre-school was named in her honor), and met with and taught the youth and adults of the community during the week they were there. When the weather is nice, you may find Faith riding around town on her motorcycle, with her friends in the local Jewish motorcycle club, Chaiway Riders. Faith is a member of the Northbrook Chamber of Commerce.
Prior to her association with Chicago Jewish Funerals, she has served the Jewish community in many professional and volunteer leadership roles. In reverse chronological order she has been the administrator of Am Shalom in Glencoe, where she earned her FTA, the Jewish Programming Director at the Buffalo Grove JCC, and for more than 20 years of professional association at Congregation BJBE in Deerfield, she has been the Family Educator, Youth Director, Hebrew Teacher, Bar/Bat Mitzvah Coordinator and Educational Program Director. Faith received her MBA from Roosevelt University and is currently working towards her second master’s degree in the Master of Arts of Jewish Professional Studies program at Spertus College.
Faith and her husband reside in Glenview, in the home her parents built. She is the proud mom of Beth and Brian who are already making a meaningful difference in our Jewish community with the work that they do and the service that they give. Watch video
Norman Cutler, Funeral Director
Norman Cutler has been a licensed Funeral Director for almost 50 years and has had the privilege of having served countless Jewish families in Chicagoland. Norman is an expert in assisting families through one of the most difficult times in their lives. During his career he has served as President of the Jewish Funeral Directors of America, The JCC’s of Metropolitan Chicago, Congregation Am Shalom of Glencoe and The Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice. Norman has also served as Vice President of Congregation Beth Judea in Long Grove and the Exodus Lodge of Bnai Brith. Norman currently serves on the Board of Directors of Rebecca’s Dream, an organization fighting the stigma of mental health disorders. His wife Gail is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor.