This summer, teens from across Chicagoland and the country will participate in Or Tzedek. Below, Ellory Wolin reflects on the two transformational summers she spent with Or Tzedek, and why you should join this summer.
By Ellory Wolin
Or Tzedek alum
In the summer of 2012, after finishing my freshman year of high school, I participated in JCUA’s week-long Or Tzedek program. Three years later, I am preparing to go to college. So two weeks ago, I went through my desk, a historical archive of the past four years of high school — messy, like most history. The bottom drawer was organized chaos. Algebra tests, graded essays about “The Odyssey,” and five times the amount of papers from junior year than any other year, were stacked like sedimentary rock. The pile laid in the bottom left corner of the drawer, leaving a border of free space in which a blue scientific journal resided. On its cover, in one of my former styles of penmanship, it read “ELLORY WOLIN- OR TZEDEK 2012.”
The journal contained a poem I wrote after attending an interfaith vigil held monthly by two sisters from the Chicago New Sanctuary Coalition at the Broadview Detention Center. I watched undocumented individuals get put on a bus to the airport for deportation, shackled as if they were murderers. As the bus pulled away, I watched a toddler. Her face was distorted with confusion, feeling her mom’s tears smacking the ground below her. In my poem, I questioned.
My questions never ceased. During that first summer, I was overwhelmed with frustration and hopelessness, encouragement and hopefulness. I did not know where to begin. So I began by looking around me, and I found encouragement and hopefulness. Surrounded by like-minded, justice-minded individuals, I was encouraged to learn and act, and in that, I found hope. Then, after looking outward to those who share my passion and provided me with the information to have a vision, I returned to Or Tzedek with a developed ability to look inward, as well.
Nevertheless, I was still without answers nor resolution. So, when I returned to Or Tzedek last summer for its 2-week Advanced Activism program, I was seeking perhaps a context that could make the realities I witnessed believable. It was during this second summer with Or Tzedek that I realized the answers would never come and irresolution would prove vital. Read the rest of this entry »