Our Story: Or Tzedek Advanced Activism 2012

By Natasha Madorsky, Dan Lapidus, Emma Hultgren, Sophie Leff, Sarah Crotty, Elizabeth Barras, Madison Reisler, and Hannah Kaplan
Participants in the 2012 “Advanced Activism” session of Or Tzedek

(Cross-posted from the Or Tzedek blog)

Or Tzedek Advanced Activism participants, summer 2012.

While most of our peers are spending their summers at the pool or at camp, eight of us – teens from around the Chicago area (and Cleveland, Ohio) – came together to pursue social justice for the diverse communities around us.

The thing is, we all came from different communities and we all have different Jewish experiences. Some of us came from the city and some from the suburbs. Some of us go to Jewish day schools and some of us go to public schools. We represent a wide range of denominations of Judaism; we are Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Reform and Unaffiliated. Although we may be passionate about different issues, we all want the same thing- JUSTICE.

In these past eight days, we’ve all driven down streets lined with foreclosed and abandoned homes. Until Or Tzedek, we never quite realized the gravity of the issue. Several of us spent the week interning at the Humboldt Park-based organization LUCHA (Latin United Community Housing Association), which works on affordable housing and related issues within the community. Through this experience, we were able to interact with neighborhood residents and deepen our understanding of how affordable housing affects individuals and communities.

» A few spots are still open in the remaining Or Tzedek sessions July 15-22 and Aug. 5-12. Learn more and register here.

Later on in the week, we spoke with residents of Lathrop Homes, a public housing development. The restrictions placed on access to housing and the governmental neglect found in Lathrop is appalling. Institutionalized oppression tears these communities and lives apart.

Or Tzedek stands for light of justice, which is exactly what we think everyone needs to be aware of. The light is “shining” on our generation to get involved in the problems of our world. M’dor l’dor, from generation to generation, we need to create a society where everyone has what they need. Or Tzedek has given us inspiration to find different causes closer to home. Everyone can make a difference.

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