June 18, 2014
The Chicago City Council Public Safety Committee today (June 18) unanimously adopted an Emanuel administration proposal that would tighten restrictions on gun retailers while still allowing gun sales in the city.
The committee vote followed a hearing at which the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs and several organizations spoke in support of the measure.
JCUA’s Judy Levey (center, at mic) testifies in support of an ordinance that would impose restrictions on gun sales in Chicago.
“We urge the City Council of Chicago to be bold enough to enact this common sense ordinance to reduce the supply of and access to illegal guns in this city, in an effort to reduce easy access to guns and resulting fatalities,” said JCUA executive director Judy Levey in her testimony to the committee.
“It is far too easy for gun traffickers and violent offenders to get their hands on guns that were stolen or purchased illegally, destroying lives, families, and far too much human potential. JCUA worked on gun titling legislation in Springfield last year, which did not pass. We endorse the ordinance and urge our City legislators to respond urgently and responsibly in order to protect Chicago’s families from the devastation of gun violence,” Levey testified.
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June 12, 2014
As we witnessed this week the 74th school shooting since Adam Lanza opened fire on Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012 it is easy to feel overwhelmed with a sense of helplessness as to what we can do as individuals. With each school shooting it becomes less sporadic and transforms into a regular occurrence and a real fear for so many of us. We send our children to school hoping that they will be educated and now we also hope that they return home alive. JCUA works with our community partners throughout Chicagoland to address the root causes of gun violence. For example, we have been active recently with the coalition to bring a trauma center to the south side. There is currently no trauma center capable of handling gun shot victims anywhere on the south side of Chicago. In addition, to the work of addressing the systemic issues of gun violence, there is something very practical all of us can do to make an impact.
Since 2005 contributions from gun companies to the National Rifle Association (NRA) has totaled upwards of $60 million dollars. Gun companies funnel their money to fund the chief gun lobbying organization in the United States. Every gun purchase an individual makes helps strengthen the gun lobby. Yet, for those of us that do not buy guns, we also may be unwittingly funding the gun lobby. Do you know if your 401k or other retirement account invests in the gun industry? It is imperative that we divest our retirement money from the gun industry.
This week JCUA attended a workshop with the Campaign to Unload and People for a Safer Society to discuss the urgent need for all of us to divest our retirement accounts from gun companies. The Campaign to Unload has targeted three specific gun companies, three of the largest contributors to the NRA for divestment: Sturm, Roger and Co., Smith & Wesson and Olin Corporation’s Winchester Ammunition. Each of these companies are close allies of the gun lobby and have donated millions to fund those that work to block common sense gun legislation both federally and at the state level.
While contemplating the horrific loss of life every day to gun violence do not feel helpless. There is something concrete and quick you can do. Divest your retirement accounts from these companies and send a financial message that we will no longer tolerate this. As President Obama said after the latest school shooting in Oregon: “Our levels of gun violence are off the charts. There’s no advanced, developed country on Earth that would put up with this.”
1) Visit the Campaign to Unload and People for a Safer Society websites to find out more about the divestment campaign.
2) Call your investment manager or bank and find out if your retirement accounts are invested in Sturm, Roger and Co., Smith & Wesson or Olin Corporation and ask for your money to be taken out of those companies.
June 11, 2014
By Noa Fleischacker, Or Tzedek Program Intern
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.
Join us on Or Tzedek Advanced Activism 2014 through Facebook and Instagram!
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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.
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.
1) RSVP to attend Iftar in the Synagogue
2) Volunteer at Iftar in the Synagogue
May 28, 2014
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll set up a time to grab coffee. It’ll be fun!
Looking forward to speaking with you soon.
May 22, 2014
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?
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