Making a difference in the lives of those less fortunate has been a longtime goal of Ray Grossman. In the more than 12 years he’s worked as an instructor for JCUA’s Judaism and Urban Poverty (JUP) program, Grossman has helped hundreds of middle school students better understand the causes and effects of poverty and Jewish approaches to alleviating it.
On Thursday, June 16, Grossman will be receiving the annual Lincolnwood Human Relations Commission Award for promoting tolerance and helping others. The meeting will serve as a fundraiser for the Niles Township Food Pantry.
“The primary goal [of the food pantry] is to make sure that every person has the food they need to sustain themselves,” said Grossman. “With these bad economic times, the number of individuals who need the food pantry keeps increasing and is now over 3,000 people of extremely diverse backgrounds and history.”
Statistics like those are some of the things students become aware of during the seven-week JUP program.
Among other things students also go shopping with $40 for a week’s worth of groceries for a family of four and volunteer at local food pantries and soup kitchens.
This year, roughly 300 students from synagogues in the Chicagoland area participated in the program, which has existed for 25 years.
“Sitting in on classes and teaching the curriculum myself, I was overwhelmed at the thoughtfulness students displayed exploring new ideas and challenging damaging stereotypes about the roots of urban poverty,” said Miriam Grossman, educational program coordinator for JCUA. “I truly believe the program makes a difference and I thank Ray and all the other instructors for playing their part in it.”