In Support of Beatriz Santiago-Ramirez

October 8, 2014

By Nate Seeskin
AVODAH Organizing Fellow, JCUA

“Do well, seek judgment, relieve the oppressed.” (Isaiah 1:17)

Judy Levey, at mic, joins other faith leaders in support of Beatrice.

Judy Levey, at mic, joins other faith leaders in support of Beatriz Santiago-Ramirez.

JCUA Executive Director Judy Levey echoed these powerful words recently (Sept. 20) as she stood alongside other religious leaders in a press conference outside the door of Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission Church in Little Village.

Emceed by Fr. José Landaverde, clergy and leaders from different religious organizations expressed their support for an undocumented immigrant and her two U.S.-born children who are all receiving sanctuary at the church while under threat of deportation. Beatriz Santiago-Ramirez, an immigrant from Mexico, is a victim of violence and is eligible for a U Visa, but failure to be certified by public officials has instead left her subject to deportation and separation from her children.

Concluding the event, Rev. John Thomas from the Chicago Theological Seminary led a prayer and then the clergy removed their shoes as a symbol of holiness as they proceeded to walk into the church where they recited additional prayers.

JCUA participated in this event to call attention to the need for humane treatment of immigrants and welcoming the stranger. Numerous lines within Jewish texts voice this sentiment, especially in highlighting the experiences of the Jewish people as slaves in Egypt: “You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9).

Many of the congregations represented at this event are part of the Chicago New Sanctuary Coalition (CNSC), a group of immigrant-welcoming religious organizations. CNSC is under the umbrella of the Sanctuary Movement, which is currently growing and operates in 12 American cities.

» Read coverage of the press conference in the Chicago Sun-Times


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!


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!



Immigration is the Jewish Question of Today

May 12, 2014

by Sidney Hollander
JCUA Board Member

Sidney Hollander

Sidney Hollander

It was a week before the beginning of Pesach. I was marching from 101 West Congress to 1901 South Ashland along with about 150 other opponents of the Draconian deportations that are now terrorizing immigrant communities: 2 million deportations in the five years of the Obama administration. “Two million too many,” we chanted. “Not one more.” “Deportations’ got to go.”

Thoughts of throwing off the chains of oppression in Pharaoh’s Egypt come readily to mind, for immigration is a fundamentally Jewish question.

“Welcome the stranger,” God tells us, “for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Over the centuries we have all too often lived as unwelcome strangers, and, unwelcomed, have all too often had to leave in search of refuge that has not always been forthcoming, in a world that would not welcome Jews. The Nazi genocide, including the closed doors of the American state, is only the most recent, although probably the most horrific, instance.

This was the first leg of a larger and longer march that started at a place of bondage, the local headquarters of the federal deportation agency that has been preying upon immigrant communities with ever increasing cruelty over the past decade. ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is aptly named, for it does have a heart of ice, invoking memories of Pharaoh’s hardened heart that stood between the ancient Israelites and their freedom. Starting from the seat of oppression at 101 West Congress, this first leg was heading for a long-standing place of welcoming, safety and support, St. Pius V Catholic Church, at 19th Street and Ashland Avenue.

‘As a Jew, I find this very troubling.’

Read the rest of this entry »


Bring Immigration Justice Into Shavuot #Torah Study

May 7, 2014

Forty nine days after the holiday of Passover comes the holiday of Shavuot. If on Passover we are meant to recall and relive the experience of redemption from oppression, servitude and injustice then on Shavuot we are meant to recall how we catalyze that experience for real change and good. Passover is the life-altering moment and Shavuot is the day after. For centuries Jewish communities have utilized Shavuot as an opportunity for all night study and reflection. This tradition still continues and people all over the Chicagoland area will be participating in either formal programs or informal learning on the night of the holiday.

text study image

Download The Text Study

JCUA has prepared a unique text study guide that you can use to enhance your Shavuot learning and to bring the topic of immigration justice alive through the Jewish tradition.

Since 2008 more than two million individuals have been deported from the country. These people are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters and loved ones. Families have been torn apart and people are crying out in pain and despair. This is an issue that directly impacts our city as families throughout Chicago have experienced the terror of detention and deportation.

We hope that this text study guide will be an educational resource to share broadly on how this issue is a deeply Jewish issue, rooted in the very foundational texts of the Jewish faith.

Please let us know how you used this study guide, we would love to hear your feedback!


From Immigration to Gun Violence: JCUA Stands with Families Torn Apart

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.


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