By Hannah Arwe
JCUA Teen Programs Coordinator
Greetings! My name is Hannah Arwe and I am the new Coordinator of Teen Programs at JCUA. I am super excited to be here – for the second time! I was a staff member for Or Tzedek’s 2014 summer program, and just had to return. I am thrilled to be able to lead the Or Tzedek program and to work to bring even more opportunities for teens to engage with social justice from a Jewish perspective.
I come from a background in youth development, having served as a Chicago Public School teacher, a private tutor, and an after-school coordinator since 2011. My experiences with young folks continue to show me how energetic and motivated they can be. Often I find them to be even more motivated than adults! In my previous position at the Howard Area Community Center in Rogers Park, I taught young people the language of social justice and worked with them to identify and learn about issues they wanted to address in their community. We were lucky enough to be able to travel to various events in the city where our youth could educate, advocate, and participate in social action. It was an amazing experience and I am grateful for the opportunity to continue inspiring young people to be agents of change here at JCUA.
My own journey as an agent of change began at a young age, and over the last several years has focused on anti-violence work and education reform. I have always been passionate about ending violence for women and young folks, and have served in several roles doing direct service work for those in need. These experiences caused me me to start asking larger questions about the systems that govern our society and led me to pursue a graduate degree in Women’s & Gender Studies at DePaul University. There I studied and participated in community organizing and advocacy efforts surrounding racism, sexual and gender-based violence, and restorative justice. Since graduating, I have continued to seek out opportunities where I can help build people power and create lasting change.
As a young woman raised in a reform Jewish community, navigating Jewish identity and practice after leaving home can be challenging. At different moments I have struggled with what being Jewish means to me and my daily life. However, I have always known that my values of justice, compassion, and peace are inherently Jewish. The sense of urgency I have felt to help repair and transform the world comes from a deep bond between Judaism and social justice that has been taught to me since I was very young. This bond was reinforced when I came to JCUA in 2014 and it is what brings me back today. I am looking forward to supporting our teens as they grow their Jewish and social justice identities just as I am continuing to grow mine.
I am very excited to get to know JCUA and its members in the coming weeks and months, and am making it my job to be as connected as possible to people around the city. Please feel free to reach out to say hi! I love to chat. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the office at 312-663-0960 ext 124.