Jacki Lovi Sundheim was killed during a mass shooting at Highland Park's annual Fourth of July parade. (Photo/Forward-Courtesy North Shore Congregation Israel)
Jacki Lovi Sundheim was killed during a mass shooting at Highland Park's annual Fourth of July parade. (Photo/Forward-Courtesy North Shore Congregation Israel)

‘There are no words’: Highland Park recalls shooting victim’s work with Jewish kids, couples

In the Jewish communities on Chicago’s North Shore, Jacki Lovi Sundheim taught preschoolers, and made sure adolescents were ready for their b’nai mitzvahs and couples for their wedding ceremonies.

Jacki Lovi in a 1974 portrait for Highland Park High School
Jacki Lovi in a 1974 portrait for Highland Park High School

She was murdered by a gunman Monday as she watched a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park. The 63-year-old grew up in the city and had worked for decades at a local synagogue, North Shore Congregation Israel, first as a preschool teacher and later shepherding members through weddings and bar and bat mitzvahs.

Sundheim’s nephew, Luke Sundheim, was at a different parade in Winnetka, Illinois, a few miles south of Highland Park, when he learned that his aunt had been killed.

“Jacki was senselessly gunned down watching a parade that she’s been to her entire life,” he wrote on Facebook. “If you knew Jacki you’d know that she was one of the kindest people you’d ever meet and she went out of her way to help anyone.”

Sundheim was a lifelong member of North Shore Congregation Israel, a Reform synagogue in nearby Glencoe. She spent decades working for the congregation, first as a preschool later and later as the events and b’nai mitzvah coordinator, according to a statement released by the synagogue’s leadership.

Sundheim had long shown an interest in working with young people. She was part of a program at Highland Park High School where students earned school credit in exchange for caring for nursery school students and working in local grade schools, according to a yearbook from Highland Park High School, which she graduated from in 1976.

Jacki Sundheim with her husband Bruce. (Photo/Forward-Courtesy Facebook
Jacki Sundheim with her husband Bruce. (Photo/Forward-Courtesy Facebook

Sundheim is survived by her husband, Bruce, a global operations director at CME Group, a derivatives marketplace, and daughter Leah, who graduated from Bradley University in southern Illinois, in 2016. Sundheim’s sister, Tracy, is an attorney focusing on special education cases in Highland Park.

Members of the family did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday, and North Shore Congregation said its staff were unavailable to speak.

“We are fully focused on supporting our community right now,” Todd Braman, the synagogue’s executive director, said in an email.

Sundheim was among six people killed at the Fourth of July parade. An additional two dozen others were shot by a gunman firing from a rooftop along the parade route. The victims were ages 8 to 85. Two were identified as of Tuesday afternoon: Sundheim and Nicholas Toledo, a 76-year-old grandfather. In addition to Sundheim, Israel’s consul general in Chicago said Tuesday that there could be as many as three additional Jewish victims.

“There are currently no indications that this was an antisemitic incident, even though the profile of the attacker might be thought to match such an incident,” Yinahm Cohen, the official, told Israel’s Channel 12.

Police arrested suspected gunman Robert “Bobby” Crimo III, 22. Martin Blumenthal, director of security for the local Chabad, said Crimo entered Chabad on the last day of Passover and seemed to be “sizing up” the synagogue.

Nearly $150,000 has been raised on GoFundMe for funeral costs, medical bills and mental health support in response to the shooting.

“The world lost a truly special person and I’m both furious and incredibly sad that I won’t be able to spend any more time with her,” Sundheim’s nephew, Luke Sundheim, wrote on Facebook.

“I love America, but this can not keep happening to innocent loving people.”

This article first appeared in the Forward.

Arno Rosenfeld
Arno Rosenfeld

Arno Rosenfeld is a reporter at the Forward. He is a former J. intern and has worked as a correspondent for JTA and The Times of Israel.

Rudy Malcom

Rudy Malcom is a digital reporting and writing intern at the Forward. He is a Poynter-Koch Media and Journalism Fellow and can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @rudy_malcom.


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