(Guest Post) MLK Weekend Havdallah and Training

Join JCUA, Jewish Solidarity and Action for Schools (JSAS), Moishe House, and Rabbi Brant Rosen of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation (JRC) in Evanston for a powerful havdallah and workshop to learn about organizing for economic justice legislation. The event will be held  on Saturday, January 18 from 6-8:30 at Moishe House, 6418 North Glenwood Avenue. Take action with JCUA  for a fair and just tax system in Illinois and RSVP. 

By Ben Lorber
Jewish Solidarity and Action for Schools

goodwin2In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we will gather this Saturday night as Jews to educate and organize the Chicagoland Jewish community around the struggles to create a fair income tax system and to close corporate tax loopholes in Illinois. At this special havdallah evening, study the prophetic words of Dr. Martin Luther King and Abraham Joshua Heschel, learn about the ongoing fight for racial and economic justice in Chicago, and motivate ourselves to take action to bring justice to our city!

“A Better Illinois” is a coalition of over 70 community, labor, faith, and civic organizations, , including JCUA, JSAS, and Rabbi Rosen, that is working to create a progressive income tax rate in the state of Illinois. Currently, Illinois’ citizens are taxed at a flat rate irrespective of income. Under this system, a single mother surviving on $15,000 a year sees the same percentage of her income- 5% taken out for taxes as does a business executive making $15,000,000 a year. Clearly, a loss of 5% yearly income is much more serious for the former than for the latter.

34 states, along with the federal government, have already adopted a progressive income tax structure- whereby the percentage of income taken for taxes varies depending on one’s income- it’s time for Illinois to do the same!

Meanwhile, due to corporate tax loopholes and a lack of corporate tax transparency, two-thirds of corporations in the state of Illinois pay no income tax to the state. The “Fair Economy Illinois” campaign seeks to pass legislation establishing corporate tax transparency, closing tax loopholes, and forcing corporations to pay their fair share of taxes.

As drastic cuts to pensions, public school funding, police and public safety, health services, and more falls upon the backs of working families in Illinois, additional revenue streams are needed to stabilize our economy and grow a vibrant middle class. By making corporations pay their fair share of taxes, we can make sure that our neighborhoods and communities get the funding they need.

In Chicago, the defunding of public education and social services is an attack upon working class communities of color. In 2013, Chicago Public Schools, citing a crisis in funding, closed 49 public elementary schools in the largest public school closing in history, and drained countless other public schools of crucial funding for staff, school supplies and programming. Most of the neighborhood schools closed were in low income African-American and Latino communities on the city’s South and West sides.

As the Chicago Teachers Union pointed out in two federal lawsuits they filed in May, 88% of the over 16,000 students affected by these school closings were African-American, although African- American students make up only 42% of CPS students total.

For children living in communities plagued by extreme poverty, homelessness and violence, a community public school acts as a safe haven and anchor in an unstable and chaotic world. In what amounts to a full-scale assault on working-class communities of color, these are the same communities that have been hit hard in recent years by cuts to public sector jobs, closure of libraries and mental health clinics, and, more recently, drastic cuts to public sector worker pensions.

To learn more about these campaigns and the impact of an unjust tax system on Chicago’s communities, RSVP for havdallah. We look forward to seeing you there.

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