JCUA: Making a Difference Through Jewish Identity

August 7, 2014

By Zoe Reinstein
JCUA Summer Intern

Zoe Reinstein, summer intern at JCUA

Zoe Reinstein, summer intern. Learn more about JCUA’s internship program here.

Let’s be clear. Waking up at 7 am during your summer vacation is annoying. That is, unless you’re interning for JCUA. The first day, I begrudgingly and half-asleep showed up for work at the office of this 50-year-old social justice organization. It took very little time at all to realize how incredible this experience was going to be when I picked up the phone, and it was the governor’s office calling JCUA.

During my time here, I had the pleasure of helping with logistics for the “Acts of Change” 50th anniversary gala and planning “Iftar in the Synagogue.” I helped to organize a JCUA delegation to an interfaith vigil hosted by the Chicago Religious Leadership Network vigil for the families of deportees at the Broadview Detention Center, followed by a meaningful interfaith discussion over coffee.

These experiences have taught me that there is nothing more exhilarating than feeling like you are actually making a difference because of your Jewish identity, which would have been impossible anywhere other than JCUA. I have seen how much effort goes in to making change, but that it is equally as worth it as it is difficult.

Read the rest of this entry »



Jewish-Muslim Bridge Building During Summer 2014

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.

Zoë ReinsteinWe 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!

Chicago SinaiThis 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.

Action Items:

1) RSVP to attend Iftar in the Synagogue

2) Volunteer at Iftar in the Synagogue


Why We Work With Our Local CAIR Chapter (Op-Ed in Zeek Magazine)

October 23, 2013

(Read full op-ed in Zeek Magazine)

Last week, the Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) hired its first non-Muslim executive director. What’s more, he’s Jewish.

CAIR-Chicago members protesting against anti-Semitism

CAIR-Chicago members protesting against anti-Semitism

The Jewish Daily Forward recently covered this story, including the criticism this has garnered in the Jewish community. The article quotes one Jewish leader saying that CAIR is “far off the radar screen of the Jewish community,” but the Jewish community is far from monolithic. The JCUA has been partnering with CAIR-Chicago for more than seven years.

In an article in Zeek Magazine, JCUA’s Asaf Bar-Tura explains why it is essential that the Jewish community partner with CAIR and other Muslim organizations. His bottom line:

“The question is not whether we can afford to work with CAIR, but whether we can afford not to.”

Click to read the full article.


Meet an “Iftar in the Synagogue” MC

July 25, 2013

UPDATE

See photos of “Iftar in the Synagogue” here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/33080177@N02/sets/72157634844991717

 

by Jessica Kim Cohen
Communications Intern, JCUA

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, breaking their fast each evening with an “Iftar” meal. Celebrating this tradition, the annual “Iftar in the Synagogue” event creates a safe space for Jews and Muslims to join in an evening of interfaith prayer, keynote addresses and a shared kosher/halal dinner.

Past "Iftar in the Synagogue" participants

Past “Iftar in the Synagogue” participants

Co-sponsored by JCUA and the Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionals, along with other Jewish and Muslim organizations, this year’s “Iftar in the Synagogue” will take place Thursday, July 25, 2013 at Anshe Emet Synagogue.

“It’s an exciting program to be involved in, and it is definitely an experience you would not get at a lot of other places,” Margaret Port, “Iftar in the Synagogue” planning committee member, said. “A lot of stuff goes into planning such a big event, especially since it is an event that can be considered contentious by some. There is a lot of treading lightly to make sure that everyone’s needs are satisfied.”

“It is very eye-opening to different issues I would not have considered otherwise,” she continued.

This year’s theme, “Neighbors Against Bigotry,” focuses on opposing Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry, going hand-in-hand with Margaret’s interests as a Jewish-Muslim Relations intern with JCUA. Acting as neighbors, planning committee members hope to combat discrimination by building personal connections between Chicago Jews and Muslims.

“This is definitely a community-building event,” Margaret said. “I have already seen from people in the planning committee that our two cultures are very similar. And, though we do have our differences, we are all living in the Chicago-area. We are all neighbors, fighting against some of the same issues that everyone in Chicago has been working on.”

Instructing people and encouraging conversations, Margaret will facilitate this mission as she co-MCs the event.

“I think the MC role is especially important this year, since the focus is on neighbors,” Margaret explained. “For a lot of people, this is their first ‘Iftar in the Synagogue.’ So encouraging conversations is a great way for everyone to get to know who they’re with as we get to know about both each other and our cultures.”


Meet Saleha Jabeen: A Muslim Student at a Catholic Seminary, Building Relationships Between Jews and Muslims in Chicago

May 28, 2013

Meet Saleha Jabeen – an Indian-born Muslim student at the Catholic Theological Union, who is part of the leadership team organizing the annual “Iftar in the Synagogue” event, as part of JCUA’s Jewish-Muslim Community Building Initiative.

by Jessica Kim Cohen
JCUA Intern, Communications

Saleha Jabeen

Saleha Jabeen

In an event encouraging the Jewish and Muslim communities to come together, JCUA is partnering with other Jewish and Muslim organizations to hold its ninth annual “Iftar in the Synagogue.”

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, and break their fast each evening with an “Iftar” meal. In celebration of this, Iftar in the Synagogue includes prayers, speakers and a kosher/halal dinner. One of the major events of the JCUA summer, it will take place Thursday, July 25 at Anshe Emet Synagogue.

27-year-old Saleha Jabeen, a student pursuing an MA at the Catholic Theological Union in Hyde Park, is volunteering as a leader on the event planning committee (find out how you can volunteer as well).

“I always try to volunteer with different organizations, so I was excited to hear about JCUA. I love finding organizations that hold onto the core beliefs of a religion, rather than the traditional religious aspects,” Saleha said.

Read the rest of this entry »


Jewish and Muslim Cyclists Will Ride Together, Narrowing the Distance Between Faiths

May 21, 2013

On Sunday, June 30, area Jews and Muslims will share the road and their places of worship via bicycle tour of North shore Chicago-area mosques and synagogues.
 
Photo by The Chicago Tribune

Photo by The Chicago Tribune

The Jewish-Muslim Ride is the second in what Julie Hochstadter, of The Chainlink hopes will be a series of annual rides that share the faiths’ heritage and houses of worship. The Chainlink: A Chicago Bicycling Online Community, is managed by Hochstadter as a website that connects cyclists to biking news and events in Chicago.

Last year’s ride in the city was a surprisingly huge success,” says Hochstadter. “I’d love to see two rides a year in different parts of the Chicago-land area.”

Inspiration for the ride came in the mid 2000s after Hochstadter participated in a ride that brought Arab and Jewish students together to raise money for an environmental school in Israel.

“The ride not only got me hooked on biking, but on the power of bringing people of different faiths together for a fun, shared goal,” she says.

This year’s ride is co-sponsored by The Jewish-Muslim Community Building Initiative (JMCBI) (an initiative of JCUA) and the Evanston Bicycle Club. Interfaith and bicycle organizations interested in partnering to bring common ground to Muslims and Jews are welcome to sponsor or ride.

Riders will meet at the The Muslim Community Center at noon and ride to several synagogues and mosques in Morton Grove, Skokie and Evanston for a 15-mile, family-friendly ride. There are plans to tour a LEED-certified synagogue in Evanston and for a kosher ice cream stop at Chocolate Shoppe in Skokie.

“Our hope is to find common ground, quite literally,” Hochstadter says. “And show unity by riding together. The more time we spend with one other, the more we can do to bring together the two faiths and fight stereotypes and, possibly make change.”

North shore synagogue and mosque stops along the way include: The Muslim Community Center in Morton Grove; Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation; Beth Emet The Free Synagogue.

The Jewish-Muslim ride is open to riders of all abilities and all faiths.

More Information:

Contact:

Julie Hochstadter, Director
The Chainlink
773-965-3396
julie@thechainlink.org

 
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About The Chainlink:  With over 8,000 members, The Chainlink is Chicagoland’s premiere social media site for cyclists, from commuters to racers, from local aldermen and City of Chicago officials, to Peter Sagal of National Public Radio’s “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me.”


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