Reflecting on 10 Days of Change: Or Tzedek 2015 Summer Session 1

July 2, 2015

By Deborah Goldberg
JCUA’s Coordinator of Teen Programs

It’s hard to believe that at this time two weeks ago, our first summer 2015 session was just getting under way!  It was an incredible 10 days of activism, advocacy, organizing, and having fun together.  If I could sum up 10 days in 10 numbers, here’s what I would say:

10 amazing teens

9 workshops on social justice concepts and campaigns

8 partner organizations visited

7 hours of prep for two prayer vigils and an advocacy visit with the President of the Illinois Senate

6 amazing staff members

5 states represented

4 jumbo bags of M&Ms consumed

3 views of Chicago (by boat, by car, and from the 37th floor of a downtown office!)

2 Shabbatot

1 incredible Or Tzedek session

There’s no possible way to capture the enthusiasm and passion of our first session teens in words and numbers alone.  From participating in meaningful workshops to advocating to the president of the Illinois State Senate on the Domestic Worker’s Bill of Rights, from leading a prayer vigil in support of the Trauma Center Campaign to celebrating two Shabbatot together, the teens’ energy, curiosity, and willingness to give 100% of themselves in every workshop and meeting was inspiring.

Check out the photo essay below for more information on our experiences! (Click on any photo below to see a slideshow with comments!)

As our first summer session came to a close on Sunday morning, I shared with the teens that I hope Or Tzedek and the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs are always places where they feel at home.  In just 10 short days, we were able to build a community, take action on several campaigns, celebrate Shabbat, and help prepare our teens to take their new skills and passion for social justice home.  We can’t wait to see these teens again at future Or Tzedek and JCUA programs!

CVP Loans Are Making An Impact Today

March 26, 2015

By Sarah Gold
JCUA Manager of Community Building

As part of my ‘initiation’ into my new role leading JCUA’s Community Ventures Program (CVP), I had the opportunity to visit and touch base with each of our current projects. Here is a snapshot of how JCUA’s loan fund is being used to make a difference by supporting three essential affordable housing and economic development projects throughout Chicago.

Breaking Ground – Rehabbing of Foreclosed homes

Current redevelopment two-flat project.

Current redevelopment two-flat project.

Breaking Ground, Inc. is a community-based organization on the west side of Chicago, which provides leadership development, manufacturing job training, and employment in construction and related fields to residents of Lawndale and Garfield Park. Breaking Ground is working to rehabilitate abandoned and foreclosed homes in West Lawndale, Berwyn, Bellwood, Maywood, and Austin. In 2011, JCUA provided a zero-interest loan of $90,000 to support housing redevelopment work.

Interior under construction.

Interior under construction.

As of today, Breaking Ground has leveraged the CVP loan and is redeveloping and selling 45 homes as follows:

► Sold – 26 units
► In construction / completed waiting to be sold – 13 units
► Under Contract to acquire – 6 units

JCUA’s loan is enabling Breaking Ground to continually rehab multiple properties at once. I had the opportunity to visit two homes, one under construction and one under contract to be sold. When visiting with Breaking Ground, Josh DeGraff, Director of Housing stated, “Without the much needed help from the JCUA loan keeping our contractors working we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish the great things we have done in the Chicagoland affordable housing community during the past few years. We are very thankful for Breaking Ground’s partnership with JCUA.” Learn more about Breaking Ground.

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

‘Thank You for Making Mayfair Commons a Priority for JCUA’

September 18, 2014
Mayfair Commons

A pre-development loan of $100,000 from JCUA’s Community Ventures Program will help support the redevelopment of Mayfair Commons in the Albany Park neighborhood of Chicago.

By Judy Levey
JCUA Executive Director

“Preserving housing stock.” It’s a phrase that sounds official and impersonal. Occasionally, though, we are reminded that there are human stories behind the bureaucratic language.

After reading our recent update on JCUA’s financial involvement in a redevelopment project, Rev. C. J. Hawking, executive director of Arise Chicago, sent me this note:


I am writing to thank JCUA for your support of the Mayfair Commons [a 97-unit senior citizen residence at 4444 W. Lawrence in Chicago].

Back in 1997, I was the pastor of Mayfair United Methodist Church and our church leader, Jean Chapman, who had worked hard all of her life, did not have a decent home to which she could retire. Jean was an amazing, dynamic leader and I admired her very much.

Rev. C.J. Hawking, Arise Chicago

Rev. C.J. Hawking, Arise Chicago

When the Mayfair Commons opened, we were all so excited. I wrote a letter of recommendation for Jean and met with the managers. She was the perfect candidate for them and they soon discovered that to be the case.

Jean moved in and a large number of us went there to celebrate with her! It was a perfect place for her and she so deserved to live in such a nice place. I visited her there many more times and I just loved the place! We need 300 more like them in the city.

A few years later Jean died of a sudden heart attack. I think about her a lot and what a special woman she was to me and so many others.

I am so grateful that she had Mayfair Commons as her home base.

So, thank you for stepping up and making Mayfair Commons a priority for JCUA. I am so very moved that you would help folks there feeling cared for and safe.

Be well, CJ

JCUA September Newsletter

September 10, 2014

In the September issue of the JCUA newsletter…

  • Cantors to sing for expanded trauma care.
  • JCUA invests in senior citizen housing.
  • Membership meetings build toward selection of issues.
  • JCUA stands with the striking employees of Golan’s moving.
  • Nate Seeskin joins JCUA as AVODAH organizing fellow.

Read it now!

JCUA August Newsletter

August 12, 2014
JCUA's latest newsletter is now online here.

JCUA’s latest newsletter is now online here.

In the August issue of the JCUA newsletter…

  • Mimi Harris makes the news
  • JCUA members focus on leadership…and change
  • Deborah Goldberg to lead Or Tzedek
  • Rebecca Katz reflects on three years as JCUA’s director of teen programs
  • JCUA supports affordable housing in Albany Park
  • Vigil and coffeeshop discussion at Broadview

Read it now!


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