Turn ‘Just’ Words into Action

November 24, 2014

A message from Nikki and Bud…

Fifty years is a long time. Whether you’ve been with us since the beginning or are new to JCUA, 1964 or 2014 or anywhere in between, we have ALWAYS been about people. JCUA not only makes a difference to the directly impacted communities we work with, but also in Chicago’s Jewish community. Everyone involved finds their lives are enhanced in ways they never imagined.

BLAH BLAH BLAH. Those are just words. What do they mean? How do we do this? When you see the senseless gun violence, the inhumane treatment of detainees, unsafe and unaffordable housing across our city, do you wonder: Where do I start? How can I take action? Will it make a difference?

You’re not alone. A lot of people share your concerns, your fears and your hopes for a better Chicago. A lot of people don’t know where to start. We know.

JCUA transforms us AND our city. It’s where you can pray with your feet, have an impact on root causes, and be a part of a community that elevates the Jewish values that compel us to raise up the voices of Chicago’s most vulnerable.

Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $50,000.

Your gift in this milestone year makes a difference. Not just to JCUA and the communities we partner with, but for you and people like you who are hungry for change.

Thank you for standing with us, and best wishes for a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving,

Nikki Stein and Bud Lifton
Co-chairs, JCUA 50th Anniversary Committee


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.

Read the rest of this entry »


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.


Allyship and the Value of Privilege

August 8, 2014

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Graie teaching Or Tzedek participants about the ladder of oppression

By Graie Barasch-Hagans

Or Tzedek Advanced Activism ’14 Counselor

During two weeks in June, I had the honor of serving on staff for the Advanced Activism session of Or Tzedek working in a community of dedicated youth seeking an active role in achieving Olam Ha’Ba (the world as it should be).

This community, an intentional residential Jewish community, gave us the time and space to intensively practice being individuals united for good. It gave us the space to explore our identity as allies.

As August rolls around, I’ve continued contemplating the role of allyship in creating communities dedicated to change and how allyship relates to my practice of Judaism. Allyship is a complicated task, being an ally asks more than just good intentions of a person.

Read the rest of this entry »


Harvesting at Growing Home

August 6, 2014
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Noa (from left), Gracee and Rena at Growing Home.

By Rena Newman
Or Tzedek Advanced Activism ’14

Last Thursday, a group of five Or Tzedekers trekked down to the Wood Street Urban Farm – a USDA certified, all-organic garden in Englewood, a neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. As we parked, we could see the rows and rows of kale, chard, and radishes through the chain link. Tomato plants stood dignified in the shade of a hoop-house.

The Wood Street Urban Farm is one of two farms run by the organization, Growing Home. However, their mission isn’t just to prove they have a green thumb. Growing Home delivers tons of fresh produce to an area where there is none; a food desert. Food deserts are neighborhoods that are devoid of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other healthy food choices within a mile radius. Instead, these places are riddled with ‘quick marts’, franchises that sell only chips, pop, and snacks.

Food deserts deny people the opportunity to be healthier, and in turn, deny them the opportunity to be happier.  The most unfortunate fact about food deserts is just how common they are in (and around) Chicago. Englewood is considered huge food desert. But the superheroes of Growing Home are combating it, one carrot at a time.

Read the rest of this entry »



(Guest Post) Making Votes Count: A New Vision for Illinois

November 7, 2013

(Editor’s Note: JCUA encourages submissions for guest blog posts on issues of social concern in Chicago, and Illinois more broadly. To inquire about submitting a guest blog post, please contact: info@jcua,org).

banner maps

by Ryan Blitstein
Senior Advisor for “Yes for Independent Maps.”  

I want to tell you about the Illinois we all wish we lived in.

The Illinois where our tax dollars are spent wisely—helping someone’s child stave off hunger, instead of lining the pockets of corrupt politicians. The state where the decisions government makes are open to us, not manipulated by legislators working only for themselves. The Illinois where we can walk up to the ballot box on Election Day, and choose a leader to represent our needs, knowing that the outcome was not determined months before in some smoke-filled room.

We don’t live in that state yet. But we can build it together.

panda mapsLet me introduce you to Yes for Independent Maps, a campaign to fix the broken, secretive redistricting process and put the voters back in charge of Illinois.

What does redistricting reform have to do with our vision? Behind closed doors, partisan leaders carve up legislative districts to guarantee their re-election. They cut themselves off from accountability, so if they’re corrupt or not getting the job done, we can’t vote them out of office. Fixing redistricting is the first step toward transforming our state for the better.

Independent redistricting protects and expands representation for diverse racial, ethnic, and religious groups. After California instituted independent maps, it led to a fresh crop of Jewish legislators in Sacramento, who created the first-ever Jewish caucus to focus on issues of interest to the community. This new, independently elected State Legislature has also addressed some of the root causes of poverty, from outdated school funding formulas to a broken immigration system.

This isn’t about which party is in charge, and it isn’t about a candidate, either. No one person has the power to heal our broken political system, but together, we can make it happen. It all starts with voters like you.

It’s time to let go of our cynicism and believe in the power of movements to solve big problems. I know with the help of friends like you, we can make that happen here in Illinois.

If you want to get involved in this historic campaign, visit http://www.IndependentMaps.org.


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