By Pamela Klier-Weidner
Director of Development and Organizational Advancement
I’ll never forget the first moment I realized the impact of JCUA’s Or Tzedek summer program on our Jewish teens. I was in front of my computer in a spreadsheet nightmare when a flurry of teens marched through the JCUA office. Their energy upstaged whatever it was I was doing.
For each of my six summers at JCUA, I’ve waited with excitement for these teens to trump whatever work I’m ensconced in.
It’s not just the usual fun energy of teens that many of us “elders” enjoy being around. It goes way deeper than that. Each year, I’ve witnessed these kids walk into Or Tzedek as just a teen, and finish the program as “just” teens. The positive impact of Or Tzedek will last a lifetime.
For the teens who didn’t already know it, they learn that they are already leaders and are capable of making positive change. They also learn that they have a Jewish responsibility to care about and address root causes of oppression.
Or Tzedek is a game-changer, a life-changer.
Joel Spiegel is only one of many Or Tzedek alums who prove the point. At 18 years old, Joel got elected as a precinct committeeman in Buffalo Grove and just got named one of 10 Jewish Chicagoans of the Year by the Chicago Jewish News. He credits it all to his Or Tzedek experience.
Don’t even get me started on Rachel Patterson, who emceed our 50th Anniversary celebration this year. Or Sam Hamer, who organized his entire high school to move their prom to a venue where workers were treated fairly. So many of these teens–and now, some young adults–give me more hope for our future.
So, this year, when we decided to hop on the #GivingTuesday wagon, Or Tzedek came to my mind immediately.
#GivingTuesday, Dec. 2nd, is a global movement dedicated to giving back. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday.
While Or Tzedek has been a beloved and popular program since its 2007 inception, scholarship dollars will help JCUA make the program accessible to all teens.
Our #GivingTuesday fundraising goal is $5,000 and we’re delighted that a generous donor has agreed to match all scholarship donations dollar for dollar until we reach our $5,000 goal.
Every amount makes double the difference. If you shop on Black Friday, and you’ve saved a coupla bucks, those prospective Or Tzedek teens could sure use that matched scholarship money. There really isn’t any amount too small. If you’ve got change, make change for these teens.
You don’t have to wait until “Giving Tuesday” to support Or Tzedek.