By Eliana Fisher and Rachel Aaronson, Or Tzedek Interns
It was an amazing, transformative eight days with the July Or Tzedek participants. The passion and openness with which every participant approached the week was inspiring. It was wonderful to develop both our unique Or Tzedek community and Jewish activist identities. Find out more about this wonderful experience through the photo essay below!
Emily, Sarah, Brian, Max, and Miriam worked the farm stand with produce from Growing Home, Inc.’s community garden with smiles on their faces. Growing Home is a community organization focused on, “empowering people and communities through the development of Chicago’s first USDA-Certified Organic, high-production urban farms.” We were grateful to have the opportunity to play a small part in the day-to-day operations of this wonderful organization.
JCUA’s Director of Organizing, Rabbi Ali Abrams, and community organizing intern, Ione Barrows, facilitated a phone banking session for Or Tzedek participants in which they worked to encourage people to call Peter Roskam regarding Comprehensive Immigration Reform. The Or Tzedek participants called people from JCUA’s list and further practiced the invaluable advocacy tool of phone banking. They were natural talents!
Marcela Hernandez and Reyna Wences, from the Immigrant Youth Justice League (IYJL), shared with the teens one of their current campaigns to stop the deportation of Octavio, father and main provider of his family. Or Tzedek participants showed both their artistic and activism skills by making posters and using social media to get the word out about Octavio’s imminent deportation. Even though comprehensive immigration reform legislation has passed in the Senate and is now in the House, deportations have continued unabated. Search #not1more on Twitter and Instagram for further updates on IYJL’s deportation campaign and get involved in Octavio’s case.
What better way to start Or Tzedek than with staff member Danny and his superb guitar playing skills? Sunday night marked the beginning of our Or Tzedek community, one that fostered dialogue, tough questions, and close-knit friendships.
At Unite Here, Or Tzedek heard from hotel workers and organizers about their fight for economic justice and were challenged to be advocates in their own lives for a living wage. Then Or Tzedek participants called religious organizations to engage them in supporting workers justice by holding their conventions in union hotels.
Imagine Englewood If…’s youth organizer, Vennessa Jones, lead a workshop for the Or Tzedek and Englewood teens about what it means to be a part of a privileged or oppressed group in society. Through asking people to consider their different social identities, Vennessa illustrated how most people belong to groups that are both oppressed and privileged. This diversity of experience gives each one of us the foundation to be a good ally even when we are not directly affected by an issue.
Work hard, play hard! As we learned, self care and rejuvenation are an important part of being an effective activist and organizer. Or Tzedek participants and staff cooled off and goofed off in the fountains at Millenium Park.