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

JCUA Inducted into the Trauma Center Coalition

January 29, 2015

Randi Stern – JCUA Member

By Randi Stern

JCUA Member and Guest Blogger

At the end of last year, JCUA members chose to organize around two social justice campaigns. One of the campaigns we chose was organizing for a trauma center at the University of Chicago. Last week, the Trauma Center Coalition reciprocated by formally voting in JCUA as its newest member. It was a moment of pride and excitement for me to be present as community, student and medical organizations invited us to organize with them. The Coalition inducted JCUA because we demonstrated that we can meet their organizing expectations. It’s a major marker in JCUA’s development as a relevant and important player in Chicago’s organizing world.

► Join JCUA members for an Interfaith Vigil for a Trauma Center, Thursday, Feb. 12 from 6:30-7 pm outside the Duchossois Center on the U of C Campus. More info and RSVP.

The goal of the trauma center campaign is to organize for the University of Chicago Medical Center to commit to opening an adult Level I or II trauma center. There is currently a “trauma center desert” on the south side of Chicago. Someone with a gunshot wound or other serious injury on the city’s south side has to travel over five miles to get treatment, greatly diminishing their likelihood of survival. In an area that needs nearby trauma care more than any other part of the city, it is a travesty that none exists.

JCUA Member joined the Trauma Center Coalition in September 2014 to "Sing for a Trauma Center."

JCUA members joined the Trauma Center Coalition in September 2014 to “Sing for a Trauma Center.”

The trauma center campaign reflects JCUA’s mission: to combat social and economic injustice in partnership with Chicago’s diverse communities. The areas affected most by the trauma center desert are predominately working class communities of color. A diverse coalition organized this campaign, and it is led by community groups who have personally felt the effects of living in a trauma center desert.

Read the rest of this entry »

House of Peace or Piece? A State by State Analysis of Gun Laws and Houses of Worship (Mississippi Will Surprise You)

November 20, 2013

JCUA is working with our partners to ban guns in houses of worship. Many skeptics say that even if we successfully make this ban law in Illinois, the Supreme Court will strike it down. However, there is good reason to think that if we are successful, the court will not interfere. Beth Filipiak provides an analysis of similar legislation in other states, and what it means for us.  Some of the states may surprise you (check out Mississippi)…

by Beth Filipiak
Organizing and Community Development Intern, JCUA

State Ranking Gun LawsThe current Illinois Conceal and Carry Law passed in July 2013 allows concealed weapons, loaded or unloaded, to be brought into any place of worship beginning January 2014.  Houses of worship that wish to prevent guns from entering the premises, must post a sign at all entrances (there is one particular sign specified in the law, with specified dimensions, that signifies the independent property owner  has a preference of “No Guns”).

When the law was approved by the Illinois legislature, Governor Quinn attempted to veto some of the worst parts of it.  He said at the time:

“There are too many provisions in this bill that are inspired by the National Rifle Association, not the common good. Public safety should never be compromised or negotiated away.”

This is the sign required by law in Illinois for any establishment that bans guns within it.  Sign must be 4x6 inches with the only text being the reference to IL code.

The sign required in Illinois for any establishment that bans guns within it. Sign must be 4×6 inches with the only text being the reference to IL code.

Despite his efforts, the legislature overrode the Governor’s veto, and the law was approved without his recommended changes.  However, Governor Quinn is not alone in his thought process that houses of worship should be included in a list of prohibited places.  Multiple states have some type of restriction, and while they are often rather detailed, and continuously changing, here is a quick breakdown as it stands today.

States with Straight Prohibition, Even With Permit

Georgia and Mississippi have a strict prohibition on guns in houses of worship:

  • Georgia: The state’s ban on guns in houses of worship was challenged in court. The challengers claimed that the ban infringes on on their First Amendment rights to freedom of religion.  The US Supreme Court upheld the state gun ban as late as January 2013, saying that the prohibition of guns does not prevent an individual from worshiping as they see fit. The court determined that bringing a concealed weapon into a house of worship is not essential to religious worship, and therefore does not meet the criteria of the 1st amendment freedom of religion.
  • Mississippi: As of July 2013, houses of worship are still on the state’s list of prohibited places for concealed carry, even with a conceal and carry permit and with the new Open Carry laws enacted in the state.

States that Prohibit Guns, Unless the Individual House of Worship Permits It

In these cases, the assumption is that guns are banned in houses of worship. If a house of worship welcomes guns, it is its own responsibility to notify the public (and not as it is currently in Illinois, where the responsibility to put signs is on those who do not welcome guns):

  • Nebraska: Houses of worship are on the list of prohibited places for concealed carry, but individual houses may authorize security personnel to carry, IF they notify their congregations in writing (2009).
  • Ohio: Houses of worship that welcome guns must posts signs saying so (this law is currently in effect at least through January 2014).
  • South Carolina: Individuals must seek permission from the governing body of the particular house of worship, if they wish to enter with a gun.
  • Wyoming: Individuals must seek written consent from the governing body of the particular house of worship, if they wish to enter with a gun.

States that Prohibit Guns, Unless the Carrier Has Additional Training or Certificate, AND the Individual House of Worship Permits It

  • Louisiana: House of worship may choose to inform the congregation that they will allow firearms. In such cases, individuals who wish to carry a concealed weapon in the house of worship are required to undergo an additional 8 hours of training.
  • Michigan: Prior to 2012, all weapons were prohibited in houses of worship. However, currently, individuals who have a permit to carry a concealed weapon can bring their weapon into a house of worship, if they have the explicit consent of the house of worship permission.
  • Missouri: A general Conceal and Carry Permit and permission are required before you can bring your firearm into a house of worship.
  • North Dakota: Before an individual can carry a concealed weapon into a house of worship, ALL of the following are required: (1) explicit permission from the house of worship; (2) a Class 1 license; (3) local law enforcement must be notified of the name(s) of the individual(s) who are allowed to carry a concealed weapon in the house of worship.

States Where Houses of Worship May Specifically Choose to Ban Guns and Must Notify the Public

This is similar to the current legislation in Illinois:

  • Texas: “No Gun” signs which are posted by houses of worship are legally enforceable, regardless of permit status (whereas when the “No Guns” signs are posted elsewhere, it is not).
  • Utah: It is a criminal act to trespass with a firearm into a house of worship that has notified the public that guns are not allowed.
  • Virginia: Houses of worship may make the choice to ban firearms, but must notify the public.
  • Kansas:  A recent law in April 2013 created what has been called the nation’s most pro-Second Amendment law, which now places onus on the houses of worship to post signs.

How You Can Get Involved

All things considered, JCUA believes that people deserve to retain a safe space of healing and sanctuary, and that houses of worship should be that space.  Amidst all of the other chaos, we all deserve peace to worship.

Join JCUA and their partners in the campaign to add houses of worship to the list of prohibited places in our current gun legislation.  Learn more here or email Asaf Bar-Tura for more information at

*** The sources of information for this article can be found here and here.


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