By Avra Shapiro
On the first Sunday of November, I went to shul. It was not Shabbat, nor was it a holiday, but it was a deeply spiritual day, a day that folded itself beautifully into the rhythm of Jewish life just like any other Jewish celebration. JCUA hosted “L’Chaim! A Community Meeting for Trauma Care”, which brought together over 200 people from Chicago’s Jewish community and beyond at Temple KAM Isaiah Israel in Hyde Park. The event marked a major milestone for the trauma center campaign and a new direction of Jewish responsibility for racial and economic justice.
I first began organizing my senior year of college, and as I got deeper into my work, it became apparent that my heart was pointing me in the direction of doing justice work within the spaces from whence I came- Jewish spaces. As a friend and fellow-organizer put it, “I realized it was time to roll up my sleeves and do the hard work within my own community.” Accordingly, when I came to my first JCUA general meeting and understood the unique and strategic role that the Jewish community could play in the trauma center campaign, I knew it was indeed time to get to work.
For the past year, JCUA has been part of a coalition organizing to expand trauma care on the south side in the midst of a “trauma center desert”. The coalition was started five years ago by FLY (Fearless Leading by the Youth) after 18 year old community activist Damian Turner was shot and had to travel 10 miles to the closest trauma center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Damian died on the way. Appallingly, Damian was shot only three blocks away from the University of Chicago Medical Center, one of the most well resourced hospitals in the nation. This tragedy was the starting point of a campaign to bring comprehensive trauma care to the South Side, and to call upon the University of Chicago to facilitate and sustain a trauma care center. Read the rest of this entry »