July 2, 2014
A little less than a year ago, JCUA embarked on a new initiative of developing a membership program. Membership in JCUA costs nothing because it is about investing your passion, desire and time for a more just and equitable Chicago. It is about standing up and saying like the great individuals throughout Jewish history, “hineni – here I am,” and I am ready to do my part in the work of social justice. Since February, nearly 300 hundred people all over Chicagoland have stood up and said they wanted to be involved and take the next step. A major step occurred this past Monday night as we held our first member meeting.
[The next step is being planned now! Please fill out the Google Form indicating your interest.]
While the storm raged outside nearly 40 people gathered at the Spertus Institute to further their commitment to combatting poverty and racism in Chicago. The meeting began with a welcome by Judy Levey, executive director of JCUA, who discussed the importance of building a Chicago based Jewish movement for social justice together. Read the rest of this entry »
June 2, 2014
The Jewish-Muslim Community Building Initiative (JMCBI) is a core component of the work of JCUA in building bridges with communities impacted by discrimination. JMCBI began in 2001 in response to the tremendous rise of Islamophobia after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. During the past 14 years JMCBI has created inter-religious dialogues, cultural events and stood in solidarity with both Jews and Muslims against Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism. We are excited to share two developments happening over the summer of 2014 that will further the work of Jewish-Muslim bridge building.
We welcome Zoë Reinstein to JCUA as the Jewish-Muslim Community Building Initiative summer intern! Zoë is from Highland Park, IL and is no stranger to JCUA. Zoë is a third generation participant in the work of Jewish social justice with JCUA beginning with her grandfather. She is an incoming sophomore at Oberlin College and became activated in interfaith work when she participated in Hands of Peace last summer. During the summer Zoë will be instrumental in helping us grow JMCBI’s activities and making sure the annual Iftar in the Synagogue is a success!
This summer we are thrilled to be working on our 9th annual Iftar in the Synagogue. This is one of the highlights of the year in Chicago for Jewish and Muslim interfaith engagement. The theme for Iftar this year is Rekindle Our Faith, Renew Our Community and we will be focusing on how we can bring a new spirit of justice to our city through the lens of our faith traditions. We are grateful to Chicago Sinai Congregation for hosting the 2014 Iftar in their beautiful synagogue in the heart of downtown. Space is limited this year so please RSVP online to reserve a spot. There is no mandatory cost to attend while a donation is always appreciated which helps cover the cost for the delicious catered kosher and hallal dinner.
Mark your calendar for the Iftar on July 17th at 6:30pm taking place at Chicago Sinai Congregation (15 W. Delaware Pl., Chicago). The synagogue is easily accessible by public transit or you can drive and park at 1 E. Delaware Pl. and bring your ticket to the synagogue to have it validated for discounted parking.
1) RSVP to attend Iftar in the Synagogue
2) Volunteer at Iftar in the Synagogue
May 22, 2014
by Daniel Kaplan
JCUA Community Organizer
Yesterday, JCUA took part in an interfaith vigil with student and community groups comprising the Trauma Center Coalition. Several dozen strong, we marched to one of the most prestigious medical centers in the country: the University of Chicago Medical Center. Our march was part of a greater campaign to address gun violence in the neighborhood and a lack of response from surrounding institutions. Gun violence remains a crisis of epidemic proportions, particularly on Chicago’s south side near the medical center. Yet while our city has six trauma centers for gunshot victims, not a single one is located on the south side.
For this reason, we held vigil as part of a broader week of action to demand the University of Chicago open a level 1 adult trauma center for the surrounding community. While the University of Chicago operates a pediatric trauma center, it has not opened its doors for nearby adult victims of gun violence since 1988. While reflecting on the crisis, we heard stories of mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons who were gunned down within reach of the university. Even though the medical center has the facilities to treat gunshot trauma, these people died in ambulance rides on the way to trauma centers elsewhere.
I was appalled to hear these stories from an area that many are calling a “trauma center desert“. This desert covers an area with one of the city’s highest rates of gun violence. Chicagoans in the trauma center desert are disproportionately black and lacking health insurance relative to better served parts of the city. Listening to the testimony of lost loved ones, I could not help but wonder: why are our resources for treating gun violence completely absent in neighborhoods where they are the most needed? Why has the University of Chicago not responded to this glaring disparity by reopening its center?
If family and community members were dying in trauma center deserts on the north side, would nearby universities respond differently?
Read the rest of this entry »
April 29, 2014
In the past five years nearly two million individuals have been deported from the United States. Fathers and mothers taken from children. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins separated from their families. The trauma of loss and disconnection profoundly felt as people grapple with the disappearance of those closest to them.
Two million is too many!
We are standing together with our partners throughout the Chicagoland area and demanding the end to deportations. The voice of each individual experiencing detention and deportation can become silenced by the system that overwhelms them. However, when we all come together and demand change that collective voice cannot be silenced.
May 1st, JCUA is joining with our partners to march from Haymarket Square (175 N. Desplaines) to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (101 W. Congress Pkwy). Please join us beginning at 3 pm and declare that we will no longer accept as normal that families should be torn apart by a broken immigration system.
Later that evening continuing our focus on families torn apart we turn our attention to the horrible plague of gun violence. We will join together with our community partner, Fierce Women of Faith, for an important mother-son dialogue about the challenges of parenthood and the forces that would turn the young men in communities throughout Chicago to a life of violence and death. Please join us in the evening on May 1st from 6:30 – 8:30 pm at DuSable Museum. Tickets can be purchased in advance here.
128 years ago as people peacefully demonstrated for an eight hour workday in Haymarket Square that would enable parents to spend more time with their children a bomb was thrown and the lives of at least 11 people were ended. 125 years later through both the devastation and gun violence and an unjust immigration system millions of people have been ripped away from their families and lives have been destroyed. Join JCUA at either one or both of these events on May 1st as we stand together for families.
Details of the Events:
(1) “Two Million, Too Many” Immigration March
Haymarket Square (175 N. Desplaines) at 3 pm marching to the office of ICE (101 W. Congress Pkwy)
(2) “Question Bridge: Black Males – Mother to Son: A Frank Discussion and Letters of Love”
6:30 pm at the DuSable Museum of African American History. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased in advance on the museum website.
December 11, 2013
Yesterday evening, Rebecca Katz, JCUA’s Director of Teen Programs, spoke at the 8th Day Center for Justice Young Adult Council and the Brother David Darst Center’s “Speaker Series: Faith Informed Justice.” Together with Jerica Arents, peace activist and educator, and Gerald Hankerson, CAIR-Chicago’s Outreach Coordinator, the panel explored how their faith tradition shape their work for justice. Over forty people attended the event, held at the Darst Center.
Rebecca, Jerica, and Gerald at the panel.
During the panel, Gerald reflected on how his Muslim faith guides his activism work. Addressing how her spirituality shapes her justice work, Jerica described how she uses silence and reflection as a space to examine and combat internalized oppression.
During the Q&A session, many of the questions focused on the panelists’ experiences teaching youth about social injustices in Chicago. One audience member asked,” How do you help teens who are struggling with feelings of guilt?” Speaking from her experience with Or Tzedek, Rebecca answered that guilt is a natural, but unproductive emotion that often causes people to run away from social justice engagement.
As a strategy to move from guilt to (productive) responsibility, Rebecca explained the importance of teaching teens concrete activism and advocacy skills, like creating an action plan or identifying attainable goals. This training allows teens to break down a seemingly insurmountable oppression, like institutionalized racism, into a campaign focused on a specific issue, like gun violence in Chicago.
December 6, 2013
Posted on Behalf of Temple Jeremiah
Temple Jeremiah, a Reform synagogue in Northfield, Ill., invites the North Shore community to partner with temple members to explore and fight hunger in our community for a three-day Hunger Summit on Dec. 6-8, 2013. The temple will host activities throughout the weekend, culminating in a panel of U.S. and state legislators, including Representatives Brad Schneider and Jan Schakowsky.
The weekend will include a presentation on food insecurity in our community from the Northern Illinois Food Bank on Friday night during 8 p.m. Shabbat worship; a showing of the award-winning film “A Place at the Table,” followed by a discussion led by Feeding America on Saturday at 4 p.m.; and a legislative panel on Sunday at 10 a.m.
Sunday’s legislative panel, moderated by the Greater Chicago Food Depository, will discuss the issues of hunger nationally and locally. Panelists include Representatives Brad Schneider (10th) and Jan Schakowsky (9th); State Senators Daniel Biss and Julie Morrison; and State Representatives Laura Fine, Elaine Nekritz, and Scott Drury.
“The point of this weekend is for all of us to come together and communicate with our legislators and advocate for change,” said Barb Miller, co-chair of Temple Jeremiah’s social action committee. “It goes beyond religious lines – this is about helping our neighbors.”
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