In less than a week, our Or Tzedek Advanced Activism participants will start their four day internships with Growing Home, Inc., ONE Northside, and Centro Autónomo! These organizations have graciously welcomed us in and will show the Or Tzedek teens different approaches to creating systemic change in Chicago communities.
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.
Have you met our newest staff members? They want to meet you! Ben Greenberg and Daniel Kaplan are meeting with our members and partners. As programs and organizing staff, we want to get to know the people that make up JCUA. We want to hear your thoughts and feelings about the issues you care about, and what you think about JCUA.
Why are we taking time to individually meet with our members? These relationship building meetings are very important to our work. They help us better understand who our constituency is and how we can best advance our work together. Hearing your ideas helps us figure out how we can take on structural racism, inequality, and anti-Semitism in a way that is meaningful and engaging for our base. Meeting with members like you is like tilling the soil as we grow our programming.
Ben and Daniel laughing it up while learning about each other’s values and insights.
So if you’d like to schedule a 1-to-1 meeting with us, get in touch! Email email@example.com and we’ll set up a time to grab coffee. It’ll be fun!
Looking forward to speaking with you soon.
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?
City housing advocates are celebrating the completion of an unusual housing project on Chicago’s Southwest Side.
On April 28, JCUA joined city and foundation officials and others to celebrate the Inner City-Muslim Action Network’s ribbon cutting on 6210 S. Fairfield. The house, which was the second project completed by the Green ReEntry crew, was the culmination of tremendous efforts of an unconventional idea that went far beyond the confines of a typical bricks and mortar project.
The Green ReEntry crew is made up of formerly incarcerated individuals who are reclaiming their lives through leadership training, community engagement, and learning construction skills (learn more about Green ReEntry).
“We would never have been able to acquire this home if community partners and organizers from the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, Southwest Organizing Project and others across the city didn’t come together three years ago through the Multifaith Housing Reclamation Campaign to help us mobilize with our local leaders around this home,” said IMAN’s Alia Bilal who served as emcee that morning.
by Sidney Hollander
JCUA Board Member
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.