Ilan Naibryf
Ilan Naibryf

Ilan Naibryf, a physics major and entrepreneur at the University of Chicago who was past president of his school’s campus Chabad center was identified on July 9 as a victim of the Champlain Tower building collapse. He was in Florida with his girlfriend, Deborah Berezdivin, attending the funeral of a family friend who had died of COVID.

“Ilan was a scholar, entrepreneur and admired campus leader, “wrote University of Chicago Provost Ka Yee C. Lee and Dean of Students Michele Rasmussen in a message to the school, noting that Ilan was a physics major with a minor in molecular engineering and was active within the campus community.

“He also was co-founder and CEO of STIX Financial, a 2021 College New Venture Challenge finalist, served as president of the Chabad House student board, was a former member of the men’s track and field team, and was active in recreational soccer. He will be greatly missed,” the statement said.

“Ilan was upbeat, always smiling,” said Rabbi Yossi Brackman, director of Rohr Chabad Center at the University of Chicago and Hyde Park. “He was very studious; an innovator who was in the middle of making a startup, hardworking and very friendly. He was an all-around great guy.”

Brackman and his wife, Baila, first learned that Ilan was among the missing from one of his friends, who contacted them on the day of the disaster. They immediately went to work. Baila Brackman reached out to Ilan’s family and to students who make up their community, gathering together with them on Zoom to recite Psalms and to pray for those who remained unaccounted for. The Brackmans continue to provide ongoing support for Ilan’s many friends at the school who are devastated by the loss.