'Jacki's work, kindness and warmth touched us all': Member of Glencoe synagogue among victims

A longtime staff member at a Glencoe synagogue was among the people slain by a gunman during the Independence Day parade Monday in Highland Park.

Jacki Sundheim, 63, of Highland Park was among the five people pronounced dead at the parade route, the Lake County coroner's office said Tuesday. Two others died later, and more than two dozen others were wounded.

Sundheim was a lifelong member of the North Shore Congregation Israel, according to a statement posted on the synagogue's website.

She taught at the Gates of Learning Preschool and coordinated events for the congregation, including bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah celebrations.

"Jacki's work, kindness and warmth touched us all," the statement reads. "There are no words sufficient to express the depth of our grief for Jacki's death and sympathy for her family and loved ones."

Congregation leaders declined interview requests Tuesday. "We are fully focused on supporting our community right now," they said in a prepared statement.

A nephew, Luke Sundheim of Wilmette, described his aunt as "one of the kindest people you'd ever meet" in a Facebook post after the tragedy.

"She went out of her way to help anyone," Luke Sundheim wrote. "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."

Antioch resident Jen Therens and Sundheim were among a group of students who earned bachelor's degrees in education in 2006 through a program offered by Southern Illinois University and the University Center of Lake County. Therens was much younger than Sundheim, and she recalled Sundheim was something of a mentor because of her life experiences.

"(She) very much gave me something to look up to," Therens said. "We all were made better because of her influence."

Therens thought of Sundheim when she heard about the Highland Park tragedy. It was "devastating" when some of their former classmates confirmed she'd been killed, she said.

"Our hearts are broken for her community, her family," Therens said.

In a Facebook post, North Shore Congregation Israel leaders said they pray the victims' loved ones "somehow find comfort amidst such destruction."

"We pray that the wounded find healing, that justice be swift, and that there might one day be a world of shalom, peace," the message concluded.

Sundheim's survivors include: her husband, Bruce; a daughter, Leah; and a sister, Tracy Hartlieb.

A memorial service is set for 11 a.m. Friday at North Shore Congregation Israel, 1185 Sheridan Road. The service will be livestreamed at

Shiva - a communal mourning in the Jewish faith - is scheduled to follow the service and run until 3 p.m. at the congregation's Rebecca K. Crown Social Hall.

Memorial donations may be sent to North Shore Congregation Israel via or the Highland Park Community Foundation at

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