“The Community is Suffering”

March 17, 2015
judy-clergy-bfast

Judy Levey at Interfaith Clergy Breakfast for a Trauma Center

By Judy Levey
JCUA, Executive Director

This past Thursday, an inspiring group of interfaith clergy and coalition members gathered at the University Church in Hyde Park to urge the University of Chicago to include community input in the trauma center study they have agreed to conduct.  This is a crucial next step in the trauma center campaign.

Rabbi Capers Funnye, Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, Rev. Alice Harper-Jones, and Rev. Julian DeShazier all spoke to the urgent need for a level I adult trauma center at the University of Chicago. Veronia Morris Moore of Fearless Leading by the Youth (FLY) gave a compelling presentation about the trauma “desert” on the south side and the resulting increased chance of death for south siders who are victims of gun violence.

This campaign, which JCUA has worked on for the past several months, speaks to the abject disparity that we tolerate in access to health care in our city.  Numerous studies have made the case – first rate teaching hospitals in urban areas all have trauma centers EXCEPT for the University of Chicago. The Illinois Department of Health has found that the University of Chicago is the only hospital on the south side with the capacity for a trauma center, and the community is suffering.  While expensive, a trauma center would only require half of one percent of the University of Chicago’s recently-launched 4.5 billion dollar capital campaign.  Most recently, Crain’s Chicago Business issued an editorial calling on the University of Chicago to open the level 1 trauma center.

As part of the clergy breakfast, I spoke at the press conference on why this issue resonates deeply with the Jewish community.  I was joined at the press conference by Rabbi Capers Funnye and Cantor David Berger.  JCUA’s longstanding work is to stand with those whose voices are insufficiently heard, to combat the root causes of inequality and disparity.  No one I know believes that access to health care should only be for some and not for others in Chicago, merely because of where you live.

Come join us in fighting for what’s right and acting on your Jewish values.  Become a JCUA member.


Rosenwald Courts, Recipient of JCUA Community Ventures Loan, Celebrates Groundbreaking

February 23, 2015
From Left: David Roos, Landwhite Developers LLC, Peter Ascoli, grandson of Julius Rosenwald, and Judy Levey, Exec. Dir. of JCUA

From Left: David Roos, Landwhite Developers LLC, Peter Ascoli, grandson of Julius Rosenwald, and Judy Levey, Exec. Dir. of JCUA

February 18, 2015, marked the long-awaited ground breaking for the redevelopment of the historic Rosenwald Building in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood. Gathered together in a small, heated tent at the site, Alderman Pat Dowell emceed the event as long-time community members, the development team and supporters celebrated this momentous occasion.

Through its Community Ventures Program, JCUA provided a zero-interest, pre-development loan of $100,000 in the early stages of the project. JCUA invested in this project at a time when others would not, in part because of a longstanding feeling of connection to the neighborhood. As Julius Rosenwald, the original developer, once was inspired to invest in supporting and creating quality affordable housing and vibrant retail, so too was JCUA when approached by the new developer, Landwhite, in 2012. To learn more about the project, visit JCUA’s earlier blog post.

Once complete, the newly renovated Rosenwald Apartments will have 239 one and two-bedroom units of senior and family affordable housing, two-acres of usable courtyard green space, as well as 40,000 square feet of retail and office space along 47th Street. This development will serve as a major catalyst for other redevelopment opportunities throughout Bronzeville and JCUA is proud to be a part of making this project possible. This once iconic, bustling hot spot in Bronzeville is finally getting the much needed attention it deserves to revive this community anchor, as it was in its glory days.

JCUA Executive Director, Judy Levey, JCUA Manager of Community Building, Sarah Gold, and Community Ventures Program Advisory Council member Ralph Brown attended the event, along with long-time JCUA supporter Peter Ascoli.

JCUA salutes the late community activist and friend Bobbie Johnson, whose tireless work to save the Rosenwald is no longer just a dream.


Rabbi David Russo and JCUA Member Stacey Flint Testify on Behalf of Workers’ Rights

February 20, 2015

Last week, the Cook County board voted overwhelmingly to pass one of the nation’s toughest wage theft laws. JCUA leaders provided testimony in support of the legislation. These statements by Stacey Flint and Rabbi David Russo reinforce the importance of workers rights in Jewish values and in the Jewish community.


‘We Are All Responsible.’

Testimony by Rabbi David Russo, Anshe Emet Synagogue

Every week, Jews around the world read from the Torah. And in this coming week [Feb. 9-13], we will all read a particular verse from the Book of Exodus (22:21-22):

Rabbi David Russo

Rabbi David Russo

כָּל־אַלְמָנָה וְיָתוֹם לֹא תְעַנּוּן

You shall not afflict any widow, or orphaned child.

אִם־עַנֵּה תְעַנֶּה אֹתוֹ

If you afflict them in any way,

כִּי אִם־צָעֹק יִצְעַק אֵלַי

If they cry to me,

שָׁמֹעַ אֶשְׁמַע צַעֲקָתוֹ

I God will surely hear their cry.

Rabbinic tradition asserts that the Bible is identifying afflictions not only of a specific group of people, i.e. widows or orphans, but any teshushei koach, anyone who is weak, who is vulnerable (Rashi).

And Jewish tradition emphasizes that God will not only bring consequences upon the people inflicting the damage – but that if people are aware of the injustice, and they do nothing, then the punishment is upon the entire community (Ibn Ezra).

We all are responsible. Read the rest of this entry »


Justice Pursued – A Week of Victories

February 13, 2015

In January, JCUA members committed to two organizing campaigns. This week, we took action on both campaigns and celebrated watershed milestones for worker justice.


 
mazel tov golans
Golan’s Strikers Victorious

For six months, workers at Golan’s Moving and Storage have been on strike. The owners at Golan’s regularly committed wage theft by requiring employees to work unpaid hours and to  pay a ‘deposit’ when promoted. Unable to get the owners to renegotiate a fair contract, the workers went on strike. After six months, their persitance has paid off! The strike has ended, a new contract has been written, and people are back at work, as new members of Teamsters Local 705. Mazel tov to the Golan’s workers for the win and to our community partner Arise Chicago for their perseverance in this crucial fight for economic justice.

  •  Want to celebrate the win? Join Arise Chicago and the Golan’s workers for a victory party on Sunday, March 1.
  • For party details and more info about the Golan’s strike, check out Arise Chicago’s February e-Newsletter.

Read the rest of this entry »


JCUA Newsletter – February 2015

February 11, 2015

In the February 2015 issue of the JCUA newsletter…

  • JCUA congratulates Arise Chicago and Golan’s workers for winning their strike and first union contract.
  • RSVP to join JCUA and other members of the Trauma Center Coalition for an Interfaith Vigil.
  • Register now for JCUA’s 2015 Passover Seder – Getting to the Promised Land.
  • JCore Member Meeting – Wednesday, February 18.
  • Sign up for Or Tzedek 2015 summer sessions.
  • Save the Date for JCUA’s first progressive dinner – ‘Just Eat’ – on June 15.
  • Rabbi Ari Hart reflects on his work with JCUA.

Read it now


Or Tzedek Alum Rose Johnson Reflects on MLK Day Interfaith Event

January 27, 2015
Rose Johnson talks with other participants at the MLK Interfaith Teen event.

Rose Johnson talks with other participants at the MLK Interfaith Teen event.

In honor of MLK Day, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim teens from across Chicago joined together to honor Dr. King’s dream for a better world by discussing interfaith solidarity. The interfaith event was sponsored by JCUA, St. Viator High School, and The Children of Abraham Coalition, and hosted by the Council on American Islamic Relations-Chicago (CAIR-Chicago).  Below is a reflection from one of the Or Tzedek teens who participated in the event.

Originally I had planned on going to the teen interfaith event on MLK day so I could see my friend who was also going. But what transpired at the event really got me thinking about what it takes to bring peace to the world.

I should say, first of all, that the event was really fun. I got to talk to friends, both old and new, about interesting topics and hand out flyers that helped to spread the message of peace and equality that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought so hard for. In the discussions, both before and after we passed out flyers, I learned a lot about other people, other people’s religions, and what it takes to bring a group of people that have differing opinions to a place of mutual respect and peace.

At the beginning of the event we broke up into small groups. My small group contained an anime enthusiast who went to a Catholic school, the father of a Catholic school student, a Muslim who worked with low income families to make sure they got the resources available to them, and me. It wouldn’t appear at first glance that any of us had much in common other than the fact that we all wanted to be at an interfaith event, but once we got to talking I found reasons to respect each person and each religion represented in my group. Among questions about what our favorite movies were and what our favorite foods are were questions about misconceptions about our religions, questions about who our religious heroes were, and questions about what we’ve learned from our religions. Turns out we all had a lot in common.

It says in the Talmud Yerushalmi: “They sustain the poor Gentiles and the poor of Israel, and visit the Gentile sick and the Israelite sick and bury the Gentile dead and the Israelite dead and comfort the Gentile mourner and the Israelite mourner and wash the clothes of Gentiles and the clothes of Israel due to the ways of peace.” This quote for me is problematic in its wording, yet also really meaningful. While I don’t believe we as Jews should separate ourselves into Jews and Gentiles, I believe that if we dig deeper into the quote it shows the Talmud firmly establishes that, while we are decided along lines of color, age and religion, we must harbor deep respect for and help everyone. The quote even goes so far as to say that we must wash the clothes of the Jew and the Gentile. And all this to build a peace that will last because everyone is contributing to it.

This event showed me that real life empathy building can create respectful environments in which tough conversations can be had and introduced me to relationships with new people, organizations and ideas that I hope to expand upon in the future.

Rose is a 2014 Or Tzedek alum. She currently attends Chicagoland Jewish High School where she is a Junior. Rose is on the board of her synagogue youth group, BESSY. Along with two of her good friends, she also helps run the GSA, which is called Gavah, meaning Pride.


JCUA January 2015 Newsletter

January 14, 2015

In the January 2015 issue of the JCUA newsletter…

  • Join JCUA in 2015 to learn more about our two new organizing campaigns.
  • RSVP for JCUA’s first member meeting of 2015 on Jan. 21.
  • Or Tzedek Summer 2015 registration is open.
  • What are you doing on MLK day weekend?
  • Guest blog post on immigration reform.
  • Save the date for JCUA’s 2015 Passover Seder on March 19.

Read it now


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