Allyship and the Value of Privilege

August 8, 2014

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Graie teaching Or Tzedek participants about the ladder of oppression

By Graie Barasch-Hagans

Or Tzedek Advanced Activism ’14 Counselor

During two weeks in June, I had the honor of serving on staff for the Advanced Activism session of Or Tzedek working in a community of dedicated youth seeking an active role in achieving Olam Ha’Ba (the world as it should be).

This community, an intentional residential Jewish community, gave us the time and space to intensively practice being individuals united for good. It gave us the space to explore our identity as allies.

As August rolls around, I’ve continued contemplating the role of allyship in creating communities dedicated to change and how allyship relates to my practice of Judaism. Allyship is a complicated task, being an ally asks more than just good intentions of a person.

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Harvesting at Growing Home

August 6, 2014
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Noa (from left), Gracee and Rena at Growing Home.

By Rena Newman
Or Tzedek Advanced Activism ’14

Last Thursday, a group of five Or Tzedekers trekked down to the Wood Street Urban Farm – a USDA certified, all-organic garden in Englewood, a neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. As we parked, we could see the rows and rows of kale, chard, and radishes through the chain link. Tomato plants stood dignified in the shade of a hoop-house.

The Wood Street Urban Farm is one of two farms run by the organization, Growing Home. However, their mission isn’t just to prove they have a green thumb. Growing Home delivers tons of fresh produce to an area where there is none; a food desert. Food deserts are neighborhoods that are devoid of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other healthy food choices within a mile radius. Instead, these places are riddled with ‘quick marts’, franchises that sell only chips, pop, and snacks.

Food deserts deny people the opportunity to be healthier, and in turn, deny them the opportunity to be happier.  The most unfortunate fact about food deserts is just how common they are in (and around) Chicago. Englewood is considered huge food desert. But the superheroes of Growing Home are combating it, one carrot at a time.

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Or Tzedek Registers 200 New Voters

July 24, 2014

10544405_557662764359148_6670906849490635176_nFor the second time in July, Or Tzedek and Jewish Student Connection joined ONE Northside’s Voter Registration campaign to register 5,000 people in Lakeview, Edgewater, Uptown and Rogers Park. Six Or Tzedek participants interned with ONE Northside during Advanced Activism and Or Tzedek youth have continued to work on the campaign throughout the summer. So far, Or Tzedek has registered almost 200 voters with ONE Northside!

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Or Tzedek Advanced Activism 2014 Reflection

July 8, 2014

Or Tzedek’s first two-week overnight session was a huge success. The Advanced Activism program, which was double the length of previous sessions, had sixteen teen participants and five staff members.

Working in partnership with more than 14 Chicago-based social justice organizations, this summer’s Or Tzedek teens registered more than 130 voters, took part in an action to stop deportations and created “know your rights” videos. They canvassed for housing justice and raising the minimum wage.

Click on any photo below to read much more about the 2014 program.

» See it all on OTz’s Instagram page


Or Tzedek Interns at Three Community Organizations

June 11, 2014

d7baf4b2e67660cd2b9fBy 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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Ban Guns in Houses of Worship with Or Tzedek

May 16, 2014

The culmination of activism for Or Tzedek and Beth Emet’s year round Jewish organizing program is taking place this Sunday, May 18th! Or Tzedek and Beth Emet teens have been diligently working on a gun violence prevention campaign, advocating for an amendment to the Concealed Carry Act that would ban guns in houses of worship.  

The campaign is focusing on moving Representative Carol Sente of the 59th district to support this amendment. 

On Sunday, we will be at Congregation Beth Am and Temple Beth-El, encouraging members to send postcards to Rep. Sente. During the concealed carry legislation debate, Rep. Sente supported concealed carry, saying that the issue was important to her constituents.

Now is the time to show Rep. Sente that as Jews, as Chicagoans, and as constituents, we believe it is important to ensure places of worship remain safe and secure spaces for healing and human development.

Join Or Tzedek and Beth Emet teens in action! 

If you live in the 59th district or are a concerned member of the Chicagoland Jewish community, please call Rep. Sente  at (847) 478-9909 on Sunday, May 18th. Below is a sample script. Make sure to include if you are a constituent of her district or if you are a member of a synagogue in her district.

“As a part of the Chicagoland Jewish community, I feel that my place of worship should be free of guns. Banning guns in houses of worship makes my congregation a safe place for me, my loved ones and my community. Representative Sente, please support gun violence prevention legislation and vote to ban guns in houses of worship. Join me in making Illinois a safer place.”

Click here for more action steps…


Action Steps for Gun Violence Prevention Campaign

April 23, 2014

safe sacred spacesThe joint Jewish organizing teen program of Or Tzedek and Beth Emet is working on a campaign to ban guns in houses of worship. Under the Illinois Firearm Concealed Carry Act, the only legal safeguard against guns in houses of worship (as well as businesses and institutions) is a small “No Guns” sign.

As a community of young, Jewish Chicagoans committed to social justice, we must ensure places of worship remain safe and secure spaces where communities can come together to create solutions for root causes of violence.

>>>Read about the campaign here.<<<

As the focus of our campaign to ban guns in houses of worship, we decided to work on moving a decision-maker in the northern suburbs, state Rep. Carol Sente (D-Vernon Hills)  to publicly support gun violence prevention legislation.

  • During the concealed carry legislation debate, Rep. Sente supported concealed carry, saying that the issue was important to her constituents. On July 9, 2013, Rep. Sente voted to override Gov. Pat Quinn’s veto of the concealed carry bill that authorizes an individual to carry a concealed firearm, effective immediately.

With many synagogues in her state legislative district (59th), this is a powerful opportunity to organize a strong Chicagoland Jewish voice against gun violence.

Act now to show Rep. Sente that as Jews, as Chicagoans, and as constituents, we support gun violence prevention legislation.

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