Teen social justice program is the only Chicago organization recognized among the nation’s 50 ‘most innovative’ Jewish nonprofits
CHICAGO, Nov. 8, 2012 – A Chicago-based program that engages Jewish teenagers in social justice activism has been named one of North America’s 50 most innovative Jewish nonprofits. Or Tzedek, the teen social justice program of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, is the only Chicago organization included in the 2012-2013 edition of Slingshot, a funders’ resource guide for Jewish innovation.
Or Tzedek, which means “Light of Justice” in Hebrew, offers 8-day summer immersion sessions, a winter break leadership training retreat and numerous programs during the year. Crossing racial, religious and ethnic lines, Or Tzedek teens work closely with peers in Chicago’s diverse communities.
Enrollment in Or Tzedek has increased fivefold since its debut in 2007. Now engaging and inspiring as many as 500 young people each year, Or Tzedek participants have come from 18 states and Germany.
The 2012 Or Tzedek Winter Leadership Retreat is scheduled for Dec. 26-29 in downtown Chicago. Curriculum information and registration is available at ortzedek.org.
The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs is partnering with the American Islamic Center of Bosniaks and American Music Festivals to present a unique Jewish-Muslim concert.
When: Sunday, September 2nd, 7PM
Where: American Islamic College (640 W. Irving Park, Chicago)
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General admission tickets are available for $25 at http://www.americanmusicfestivals.com. Call 773-469-5895 for more information.
The Jewish community and Bosnian Muslims share a common historical bond, being displaced at the hands of 15th Century Inquisitors and finding refuge in Bosnia-Herzegovina and neighboring areas under Ottoman rule. They suffered together at the hands of Nazi collaborators in World War II and fifty years later Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) suffered the first genocide in Europe since the Holocaust. Audience members will be invited to view the debut of the photo exhibit “Remembering the Genocide in Bosnia,” by Samir Hadzalic, Outreach Director for American Music Festivals.
In the National Museum in Sarajevo a Haggadah is proudly displayed. Written in Hebrew, it is one of the most beautiful books of its kind, dating back to around the 15th century when it was brought from Spain. Near the Museum, a Synagogue and Mosque stand next to each other, reminding us of the peaceful coexistence that Jews and Muslims enjoyed for centuries in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This friendship led to the development of Sevdah music, which combines folk elements of the Sephardic, Balkan, and Arabic traditions. It is through the music and text of these melancholy songs that their friendship can best be understood.
For Immediate Release
Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, Chicago | http://www.jcua.org
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CHICAGO, Aug. 15, 2012 – After three decades during which she defined the Jewish social justice agenda in Chicago, and shaped the organization that carried out the mission, Jane Ramsey has announced her retirement from the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs – the organization that she led for more than 30 years.
Founded by Rabbi Robert Marx in 1964 as a Jewish response to the emerging civil rights movement, under Ramsey’s leadership JCUA expanded its social justice role and has become the ”go-to” organization for those seeking allies in the fight for justice.
When then long shot mayoral candidate Harold Washington became the object of racial slurs, JCUA called for Chicagoans to act on their better nature. When CHA residents sought allies to ensure that their rights were honored as the city tore down its high-rises, JCUA pulled together the coalition of religious and civil rights institutions that became the tenants’ allies. In the wake of September 11th, 2001 when Chicago’s Muslim community became the target of hate crimes, JCUA reached out to offer support and solidarity, subsequently founding the Jewish-Muslim Community Building Initiative.
More recently, when Chicago’s Mexican communities were threatened by both gentrification and deportations, JCUA fought for immigration reform and battled the now-infamous practices of the Agriprocessors, Inc., a kosher meatpacking plant in Iowa. This led to a nationwide effort, the “We Were Strangers Too Jewish Campaign for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.”
UPDATE [8/13/12] Since this statement was drafted, we have learned of yet another attack on a Muslim institution in Chicago’s suburbs; a home-made bomb was thrown at an Islamic day school during the evening prayers on 8.12.12. See details here, including JCUA’s response.
August 13, 2012
The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs and the undersigned community leaders are outraged and saddened by the violent assault on the Muslim Education Center (MEC) mosque in Morton Grove, IL, this past Friday night (August 10, 2012).
This attack on a house of worship is only the most recent in a dangerous string of incidents in the Midwest:
In destroying property and taking the lives of innocent people, the crimes of the past week do immeasurable harm to the sanctity of the American values of religious freedom, diversity and equality.
Last Thursday on August 2nd, the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA) hosted 900 Jews and Muslims for “Iftar in the Synagogue” along with the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago and numerous other Jewish and Muslim community institutions. This was our largest “Iftar in the Synagogue” to date – an unprecedented interfaith celebration of diversity and solidarity. But in the wake of this event, we are now witnessing violent acts of hatred and racism devastating communities of faith in the Midwest.
Drawing on our founding principles and our basic understanding of the imperative to view every person as created in the image of God, JCUA strongly condemns the horrific murder of six members of the Sikh faith in Oak Creek, WI and mourns this terrible loss of life. Furthermore, JCUA is deeply saddened and concerned to learn that a mosque in Joplin, Missouri has been destroyed by a suspected arsonist earlier today.
“JCUA and its members continue to affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every human being. We are more committed than ever to build bridges across all races, ethnicities, and faiths,” said Judy Levey, JCUA’s CEO. “This is the only way to fight hate – through understanding and respect.”
CHICAGO, June 7, 2012 – Two Chicagoans who are champions for immigrant rights have been named the 2012 recipients of the Rabbi Robert J. Marx Social Justice Award. The award will be presented to Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and Chicago immigration attorney Kalman Resnick by the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs.
Garcia and Resnick will be honored at a new JCUA event, entitled “Acts of Change,” at 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday, June 20 at the Ravenswood Event Center, 4043 N. Ravenswood Avenue, Chicago.
Author Tamar Manasseh will be the featured speaker, Rabbi Capers Funnye will serve as the program’s emcee. The entire event will be done “in acts” and will include songs from “Soul Sisters, a Multicultural Musical.”
For tickets, visit jcua.org/actsofchange or call 312-663-0960.
“Acts of Change is a fun, celebration of exactly who we are and what we are about,” explains Judy Levey, JCUA’s chief executive officer. “We are very excited to be spearheading a new kind of annual awards event that speaks to a multi-generational audience.”
Jane Ramsey, newly named president of JCUA.
Judy Levey, newly named chief executive officer of JCUA.
CHICAGO, Feb. 1, 2012 – The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs announced today that Jane Ramsey has been named to the new position of president, topping more than three decades as a leader in the Jewish social justice movement. Judy Levey, JCUA’s director of programs, will assume the position of chief executive officer.
Ramsey has led JCUA since 1979, except for a period in the 1980s when she served in the administration of Chicago Mayor Harold Washington.
“Jane’s tireless advocacy on behalf of people and communities facing racial, economic, and religious discrimination has had a significant impact in Chicago, the region and the nation,” said Rabbi Bruce Elder, chair of the JCUA board of directors.
From her platform and leadership as president, Ramsey will continue to concentrate upon and guide JCUA’s big issues that impact impoverished communities, minorities and victims of discrimination. As chief executive of the organization, Levey will lead and manage JCUA.
Levey’s experience directing nonprofit and government programs includes serving as executive director of the Homeless and Housing Coalition of Kentucky. She holds a master’s degree in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Levey also serves on the executive board of Beth Hillel Congregation Bnai Emunah in Wilmette.
“This is an ideal time to move our mission forward and reaffirm our fundamental values. Building on our rich history and Jewish prophetic principles, I am committed to the reinvigoration of a new generation of activists to champion social justice,” said Levey.
“With the backdrop of our nation in economic crisis and our city reeling from the consequences including a record high level of housing foreclosures and an escalation of violence particularly hard hitting our youth, JCUA seeks to grow its capacity to tackle those issues deeply impacting Chicago’s most distressed and disenfranchised communities. At our core, JCUA is about justice, compassion, and ensuring healthy communities for all,” said Ramsey.
More information at the JCUA staff page.
CHICAGO — Lowell E. Sachnoff, of Counsel to Reed Smith, is the 2011 recipient of the Arthur Goldberg Social Justice Award, presented by the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs.