Daniel Kaplan grew up in Chicago with a passion for tzedek and social justice.
That would be just about the perfect combination for a position at JCUA. He began his new career with us this week as a community organizer.
“I’m thrilled to be working with an organization as venerable as JCUA. It’s an honor to join the staff at JCUA’s 50th anniversary,” says Daniel. “I’m looking forward to this exciting opportunity as we recommit to advancing a just vision for the city of Chicago.”
Daniel graduated from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash. with a BA in Race and Ethnic Studies, concentrating on Postcolonial Studies and the Middle East. He returned to Chicago to live in a Moishe House and help build a young Jewish community rooted in social justice. Since then, he has become an active member of Mishkan Chicago, and organizes with Jewish Solidarity and Action for Schools.
“During my time in Chicago I’ve seen JCUA organize strategically, build valuable relationships, and take risks in the name of social justice,” Daniel says. “From civil disobedience in the name of immigration reform to mobilizing the Jewish community around A Better Illinois to standing with Muslim community organizations against Islamophobia, JCUA is advancing a pluralistic and universal definition of tzedek that shapes my values and approach to organizing.”
As Daniel sees it, community organizing is more than working to advance a campaign. He believes that genuine community organizing requires building meaningful relationships with the communities that JCUA supports, as well as with the Jewish communities that comprise the base.
“Good community organizers know how to listen for the strategies, ideas, thoughts and feelings that flow through individuals and communities they work with. Community organizers not only build strategic allies, but friendships and genuine connections with the people in their spheres. Community organizing is part social work, part management, and involves genuine dedication in your soul to the work that surrounds you,” says Daniel.
In his free time, Daniel loves baking challah, camping and biking across the city. Daniel looks forward to working with JCUA in realizing positive social change for Chicago. Among his many talents, he is well-versed in the use of social media as an organizing tool.