By Deborah Goldberg
Coordinator of Teen Programs
I have the best job in the whole world. As the coordinator of teen programs at the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, I get to do what I love—my job is to engage teens in social justice work within a Jewish context. On my first day of work at JCUA, Rebecca, who held this job before me, shared with me the history of Or Tzedek. I was simultaneously awed by our past and excited for our future.
JCUA wants to reach teens in as many ways as possible. Since its inception in 2007, Or Tzedek has run a summer program that has reached hundreds of teens. (Registration is now open for our summer 2015 sessions!)
Last year, Or Tzedek partnered with Evanston’s Beth Emet the Free Synagogue to launch Or Tzedek: Year of Action. Nearly 50 teens came together for the year to learn about root causes of social injustice in Chicago and then participated in a gun violence prevention campaign, advocating for an amendment to the Concealed Carry Act that would ban guns in houses of worship.
Next February, Or Tzedek will partner with Chicagoland Jewish High School to run a three-day activism and advocacy retreat for its junior class. The 40 students of CJHS’s junior class will have an extraordinary opportunity to learn from JCUA’s community partners, connect social justice issues to Jewish values and history, and meet with state and federal representatives to advocate for issues they care about.
Support Or Tzedek on Giving Tuesday
This Dec. 2, JCUA will participate in Giving Tuesday, a global movement dedicated to giving back. This upcoming Giving Tuesday, JCUA is raising funds for scholarship dollars to make Or Tzedek accessible to all teens. Our fundraising goal is $5,000 and we’re thrilled that a generous donor has agreed to match all scholarship donations dollar for dollar until we reach our $5,000 goal.
When I think about Or Tzedek, I think about the incredible teens I get to work with. “Or Tzedek” means “Light of Justice,” and I know that the work our teens engage in helps make the world a more just place. I also know that Or Tzedek ignites a spark within Jewish teens, and whether they go on to be leaders in their youth groups and high schools, community organizers and activists, or precinct committeeman (Or Tzedek alumni have done all of those things!), they leave the program as different people than the ones who entered it.
I want every teen to have that opportunity.
You don’t have to wait until “Giving Tuesday” to support Or Tzedek—make a donation today.