By Alex Lopez
JCUA Member and Guest Blogger
Hi, I’m Alex and I’m here to recruit you.
I should start with a disclosure. I haven’t been to services in so long that I don’t know the name of my congregation’s current rabbi. My dog understands more Hebrew than I do. I forgot Purim was coming up until I saw hamantaschen recipes in my Facebook feed (and I just now googled how to spell “hamantaschen”). But there are plenty of Jewish groups in Chicago that provide weekly services and Hebrew classes and Purim carnivals. I’m not here to recruit you for that.
I wasn’t always a Jew and I didn’t grow up in Chicago. Upon arrival to both I was astonished at how many different opportunities there were to be part of the Jewish community here. There was the shul shopping and Shabbat dinners and fundraising events until my calendar was fuller than a Cathy comic word bubble. It was such a blessing to be introduced to such a thriving and growing Jewish community. But, I wanted more. As a union organizer in this city I’ve seen a different type of community building. Unfortunately we live in a city where gunshot wound victims die because the nearest hospital won’t care for them. In our city international corporations receive public subsidies while working Chicagoans struggle to make a decent wage. Our school system has shuttered neighborhood schools, enrolling thousands students into schools that are designed to avoid accountability. In all of these instances and more, I’ve seen Chicagoans organize to create a community so powerful that it can make corrupt institutions realize their responsibility to us.
“If you’ve ever seen an injustice in this city but didn’t know who to turn to for help, come to JCore.”
This is how I became a member of JCore. I believe in the power of Jewish community building and the strength of solidarity. For me, it wasn’t enough to organize a Jewish community as if it is separate from the city that it exists in. JCore has given me an opportunity to build stronger ties to the Jewish community and to Chicago’s social justice community. It has made me a better citizen and a better Jew.
But without growth, any community grows stagnant and that is why I am here to recruit you. If you’ve ever seen an injustice in this city but didn’t know who to turn to for help, come to JCore. If you’ve been inspired while at synagogue to heal the world but you didn’t know where to start, come to JCore. If you believe that we build a stronger Jewish community by organizing against injustice in the broader community, come to JCore.
Or, if you want to teach me Hebrew, get me to be more observant, or give me hamantaschen recipes, come to JCore – but know that I’m going to try and recruit you to start healing Chicago.
What is JCore?
For close to a year, JCUA has been building individual membership to support and lead our work. At the January member meeting, 25 JCUA members voted to name this active body within the larger JCUA membership. These engaged members are the “Core Leadership” for JCUA’s issue-based campaign work, thus JCore! JCore members meet monthly to shape and advance our organizing campaigns and build coalitions around Chicago. JCore meetings are open to all members.