On Rosh Hashanah, New Beginnings Bring New Resolutions

September 24, 2014

By Nate Seeskin
AVODAH Organizing Fellow, JCUA

Nate SeeskinSeptember marks two new beginnings for me with the coming of the Jewish New Year and my starting as an Organizing Fellow at JCUA. This is not just another year where I look to improve myself, but one where I look to engage with my new community.

Many people look to the High Holidays as an opportunity to reflect on how they can improve themselves. As an organizing fellow I understand that in order to effectively attend to outside factors in our lives, such as family and work, self-care and reflection are essential.

Along with the emphasis on self-improvement, there should be equal weight placed on the betterment of community (Tikkun Olam) and social justice (Tzedek). I moved to Chicago last month largely because I considered it like a second home throughout my life with the personal connections I have here. Yet I can also relate to this city because of its many similarities to my home city, St. Louis. Both are steeped in rich traditions (especially baseball and food) and have a special type of folksy flavor that you cannot find on either coast.

At a recent rally, Chicago-area Jewish clergy sound the shofar to call for a level one trauma center on the South Side.

At a recent rally, Chicago-area Jewish clergy sound the shofar to call for a level one trauma center on the South Side.

At the same time, both cities are plagued with problems like gun violence and police brutality. Disparities in access to resources are rampant, whether it be the recent incidents in Ferguson, Missouri or the shortage of emergency health care on the South Side of Chicago. These problems are only symptomatic of a broader problem: segregation. Last year, St. Louis and Chicago were respectively ranked as the sixth and seventh most racially segregated metropolitan areas in the U.S. Within this ranking, 12 of the 25 most racially segregated American cities are in the Midwest. As the third largest metropolitan area in the U.S. and the largest city in the Midwest, Chicago is prime battleground for our fight for social justice.

Social justice plays a foundational role of Jewish faith and communal expression. Our history is one of both persecution and perseverance and in our annual period of reflection, we must not take for granted the world around us.

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‘Thank You for Making Mayfair Commons a Priority for JCUA’

September 18, 2014
Mayfair Commons

A pre-development loan of $100,000 from JCUA’s Community Ventures Program will help support the redevelopment of Mayfair Commons in the Albany Park neighborhood of Chicago.

By Judy Levey
JCUA Executive Director

“Preserving housing stock.” It’s a phrase that sounds official and impersonal. Occasionally, though, we are reminded that there are human stories behind the bureaucratic language.

After reading our recent update on JCUA’s financial involvement in a redevelopment project, Rev. C. J. Hawking, executive director of Arise Chicago, sent me this note:

Judy,

I am writing to thank JCUA for your support of the Mayfair Commons [a 97-unit senior citizen residence at 4444 W. Lawrence in Chicago].

Back in 1997, I was the pastor of Mayfair United Methodist Church and our church leader, Jean Chapman, who had worked hard all of her life, did not have a decent home to which she could retire. Jean was an amazing, dynamic leader and I admired her very much.

Rev. C.J. Hawking, Arise Chicago

Rev. C.J. Hawking, Arise Chicago

When the Mayfair Commons opened, we were all so excited. I wrote a letter of recommendation for Jean and met with the managers. She was the perfect candidate for them and they soon discovered that to be the case.

Jean moved in and a large number of us went there to celebrate with her! It was a perfect place for her and she so deserved to live in such a nice place. I visited her there many more times and I just loved the place! We need 300 more like them in the city.

A few years later Jean died of a sudden heart attack. I think about her a lot and what a special woman she was to me and so many others.

I am so grateful that she had Mayfair Commons as her home base.

So, thank you for stepping up and making Mayfair Commons a priority for JCUA. I am so very moved that you would help folks there feeling cared for and safe.

Be well, CJ


Praying With Your Feet: Rosh Hashanah and Healthcare Justice

September 16, 2014

By Leah Greenblum
JCUA Member and Guest Blogger

ACTION ALERT

Thursday, Sept. 18, 4:00 pm
Outside the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine
Corner of Maryland Ave. and E. 58th St. [MAP IT]
RSVP here

Leah Greenblum

Leah Greenblum

Most of us who live in Chicago are vastly aware of the city’s segregation. For me and many of my white friends, our interactions with the city’s south side are limited to visiting a select few locations. It may be eating the best pasties with a good friend, people-watching the students at University of Chicago, or checking out a mural or 20 in Pilsen. But while we’re enjoying what this area of the city has to offer, sometimes we forget that many of the residents of the South Side are still very much victims of structural discrimination that deeply affects their lives.

What does structural discrimination look like in Chicago? One manifestation is the  lack of trauma center on the south side. While eight trauma centers are distributed throughout the Chicago area, none are located in south side neighborhoods. There are countless stories of women and men dying from treatable gunshots in inordinately long ambulance rides to distant trauma centers.

This maldistribution of resources is an an amalgamation of many inequalities at once. We all know that Chicago has some high violent crime. In particular we know that this crime is often concentrated in pockets of neighborhoods blighted by high levels of poverty, such as Englewood, Chatham, Washington Park, and Fuller Park. We also know that gunshot victims (many of whom are not associated with gangs, but are innocent bystanders) and others who incur events causing trauma (Who hasn’t had a bicycle accident?) are often in unstable physical condition so much so that time—we’re talking minutes and seconds—can be the difference in life and death.

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Live in Harmony or Be Harassed?

September 15, 2014

Jeffrey A. Zaluda

By Jeffrey A. Zaluda
JCUA Board Member

In a few days, as Jews gather to usher in the Hebrew year 5775, we will reflect on the year that just ended and concentrate on our hopes for the next.

JCUA Book of Life

Violence and racism from our city’s neighborhoods explode on our TV and smartphone screens every day, making our High Holiday reflection this year especially poignant, even painful.

With the Rosh Hashanah image of an open Book of Life in our minds, many of us will recite the rabbinical poem that asks “Who will live in harmony and who will be harassed?” in the coming year. “Who will live in poverty and who will get rich?”

Racism, income inequality, and, sadly, cynicism, remain root causes of the violence on our streets and in the distressed neighborhoods in our community. “Who will be degraded and who will be exalted”? asks the poet.

In our 50th anniversary year, as always, members of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs work to make Chicago a better place. The lack of a trauma center on Chicago’s South Side…suburban gun shops fueling urban violence…inhumane deportations of immigrants.

Make a commitment to help JCUA address these urgent issues. Participate in JCUA’s work by being an active member. Make a donation that will help JCUA continue as a Jewish voice for justice in Chicago.

With your help, the inscriptions in the Book of Life will be for a better world this year. Our best wishes for a good year for you and those close to you.

L’shanah tovah

DONATE TO JCUA

P.S. On Thursday, Sept. 18, Chicago-area cantors and rabbis will sing, pray and take action with student, community and interfaith groups organizing for an urgently needed trauma center on Chicago’s South Side. Learn more and join us.


JCUA September Newsletter

September 10, 2014

In the September issue of the JCUA newsletter…

  • Cantors to sing for expanded trauma care.
  • JCUA invests in senior citizen housing.
  • Membership meetings build toward selection of issues.
  • JCUA stands with the striking employees of Golan’s moving.
  • Nate Seeskin joins JCUA as AVODAH organizing fellow.

Read it now!


Jewish Values Stand With The Workers of Golan’s Moving and Storage

August 22, 2014

Rabbi Ben Greenberg

For almost a month the workers of Skokie, Ill. based Golan’s Moving and Storage have been on strike. The nearly 80 employees of the locally owned moving company voted to form a union at the end of 2013 in response to numerous unfair labor practices and outright reports of illegal activities. For example, there are currently 10 complaints of wage theft against the company under active investigation at the Department of Labor. Workers would be told to work a 14 hour day but only get paid for 8 of those hours. Since organizing as a union the employees have been unsuccessful in multiple attempts to negotiate a contract with the owners. The owners have cancelled negotiation dates nearly 6 times. All of this behavior is clearly in violation of not only ethics but of Jewish law and Jewish values.

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JCUA August Newsletter

August 12, 2014
JCUA's latest newsletter is now online here.

JCUA’s latest newsletter is now online here.

In the August issue of the JCUA newsletter…

  • Mimi Harris makes the news
  • JCUA members focus on leadership…and change
  • Deborah Goldberg to lead Or Tzedek
  • Rebecca Katz reflects on three years as JCUA’s director of teen programs
  • JCUA supports affordable housing in Albany Park
  • Vigil and coffeeshop discussion at Broadview

Read it now!


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