For 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!
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 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.
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.
>>> To keep up with Or Tzedek and Beth Emet’s campaign, like us on Facebook!<<<
Because of his activism with Undocumented Illinois, the Immigrant Youth Justice League, Organized Communities Against Deportation, National Day Laborer Organizing Network and other immigrant justice organizations, Anibal Fuentes will remain in Chicago to see his son turn one. Anibal continues to fight for permanent relief and for President Obama to stop all deportations and will share his story at Chicago’s 5th National Coming Out of the Shadows Day.
His first thought was about his son: “I am relieved. I get to celebrate my son’s first birthday.” But he said the temporary stay is bittersweet and leaves him in limbo. “But what happens after that? Will I see him grow up?” Anibal is also still under supervision and required to wear an ankle bracelet.
Anibal Eligio Fuentes-Aguilar was placed in immigration detention after immigration officials raided his building on the in the north side of Chicago. He has a 6-month old baby, Franky, who is a US citizen. Anibal has no criminal record, and was only placed into immigration custody due to his first encounter with border patrol over 5 years ago.
Meanwhile, Anibal will continue to organize alongside local groups. This Saturday, he will be one of the people sharing his story at Chicago’s 5th National Coming Out of the Shadows Day.
Along with other Chicago families facing deportation, Anibal will be calling attention to the mass number of deportations taking place under President Obama.
“I wonder if President Obama knows what it feels like to be separated from your family, taken to detention, and not know if you’ll see your children again. He can do something for our families and stop the raids and deportations,” Anibal said.
Joel has been a leader in Or Tzedek, participating in Or Tzedek’s “Activism and Community Organizing” in summer 2012 and “Advanced Activism” in summer 2013. Joel is currently running for precinct committeeman in Buffalo Grove and is a senior at Stevenson High School.
In his acceptance speech, Joel named Or Tzedek as one of his major influences, stating, ” I wouldn’t not be here today if it weren’t for Marc Sender, Joan Smith, and Rebecca Katz of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs continuing to push me to be the very best I can be.”
Joel has a gift for engaging people with a diversity of backgrounds and connecting across both similarities and differences. His genuine interest in people’s experiences allows them to open up and share their perspective. He is truly a community builder.
Joel models the inclusive and supportive behavior necessary for a powerful community. He has the important, but too often rare, leadership quality of offering the support and guidance necessary for others to step out of their comfort zones and discover their own leadership capabilities.
Mazel Tov, Joel!
Rabbi David Russo, Anshe Emet Synagogue, delivered a powerful speech about the Jewish community’s responsibility to combat poverty at the “A Better Illinois” interfaith service to call on politicians in Springfield to move forward on progressive income tax legislation. Speakers included Imam Matthew Ramadan, Rev. Booker Vance, Rev. Otis Moss III, and Bishop Alberto Rojas. Full text of Rabbi Russo’s speech is printed below. Learn more about JCUA’s work on “A Better Illinois.”
By Rabbi David Russo, Anshe Emet Synagogue
One of the central projects of the Five Books of Moses, or the Torah, is to transform our personal narratives into a greater sense of empathy and moral responsibility. The starkest example of this is when the text repeats the refrain, “ki eved hayita be’eretz mitzrayim”- for you were once a slave in the land of Egypt.
The Torah seeks to transform us into people who see those who are vulnerable and exposed and act towards creating a more just society (based on a teaching of Rabbi Shai Held).
This same theme manifests itself in a line that is known to most Jews, recited in a daily prayer. We pray every day, to a God who is “hagadol, hagibor, vehanora, el elyon” – a God who is supreme and Lord supreme, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God.
But what most people do not know is the continuation of this verse from the Book of Deuteronomy,
“God shows no favor and takes no bribe, but rather God upholds the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, providing him with food and clothing. You too must love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 10:17-19)
The text begins by praising God as “great, mighty, and awesome.” Of what does God’s greatness, mightiness, and awesomeness consist? According to these verses, not of God’s having created the world, and not of God’s having demonstrated God’s ability to smite God’s enemies. No, God’s grandeur is rooted in God’s fairness, a God who shows no favor and takes no bribe, a God who champions the cause of the oppressed and the downtrodden.
Today we are gathering to uphold this very biblical precept – that so long as any person in our community is without food, without clothing, without schooling, without housing, without safety, without security, then none of us are truly free. For our freedom is intertwined together. And only when have cared for all in this great city can we truly say that we are a sacred community, together walking in God’s ways.