Or Tzedek Teens Learn How to Become Human Rights Champions

By Eve Carne
Communications Intern

Eve Carne

(June 22, 2011) This morning several teens gathered for a human rights workshop led by JCUA’s Michaela Purdue.  The workshop started out by them breaking down Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, relating it back to human rights and their opinions on the standard of living every human deserves.

The teens are participating in the eight-day Or Tzedek program. Or Tzedek helps teens better understand social justice and its connection to Judaism. One way this learning occurs is through interactive discussions about important issues and hands on experience they receive during the program.

Or Tzedek teen at her internship

This morning’s lesson covered basic human rights and took a look at the discrepancy between what laws actually say and how they are carried out.  The teens asked many intelligent questions trying to dig deeper to why things are the way they are.  Michaela urged them all to be a “human rights champion” and said that “being here is an example of what they are trying to learn”.

With a basic understanding of the rights we all deserve, but do not necessarily have, the teens split up into three groups for a chance to make a difference.

Groups of teens are spending several afternoons interning at Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), Unite Here and Northside P.O.W.E.R.  All of these organizations have missions that tie into human rights.

Naomi Klionsky who has been interning at ICIRR for the week said her and her other peers have been calling different scholarship funds to find out if they are available for undocumented students.

Unite Here is an organization that represents workers from a variety of different industries.  Their goal is to make sure workers are treated fairly.

Northside P.O.W.E.R is an organization that works on housing a food justice.

These three organizations stand for some of JCUA’s main issues: immigrant rights, worker justice and affordable housing. Or Tzedek is making young people aware of the issues that JCUA has been tirelessly working towards.

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