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!


No More Excuses – Trauma Center Now

June 26, 2015

Jay and Demands

By Jay Stanton
JCUA Member

Earlier this June, I spent one Thursday reminiscing about my time as a student at the University of Chicago and being both pleased and horrified at some of the changes that have been made on campus in recent months. The previous day, nine activists were participating in peaceful civil disobedience, calling on President Robert Zimmer to discuss a list of demands for the University of Chicago to help solve the trauma center desert crisis on the South Side.

Instead of pursuing its ordinary tactics of ignoring protesters until they get tired, or superficially meeting demonstrators’ demands to meet with high-level administrators while not making any changes as a result,  the university enlisted the help of the city fire and police departments to extricate and arrest the activists.  They have been charged with serious misdemeanor charges that have the potential to result in jail time. All non-student activists have been banned from campus. These charges can only be meant to punish and intimidate them and the rest of us into silence about the refusal of the University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) to open a trauma center. In order to encourage the free expression of ideas, the University should drop the charges immediately.

TAKE ACTION NOW:
1. Sign this petition calling on the University of Chicago to drop charges against the nine trauma center protesters.
2. Join the protesters in court on July 10th. Details and RSVP in the above petition.
3. Write an email to president Zimmer expressing your concern for the University’s actions and the lack of a trauma center.

But here’s the bigger question: why is the U of C singling out trauma center activists? Read the rest of this entry »



Deadline for Illinois Budget Negotiations Passes: Take Action Now!

June 11, 2015
JCUA Board Chair and member Peggy Slater is interviewed at Raunerville action in MAy.

JCUA Board Chair and member Peggy Slater is interviewed at the Raunerville action in May.

By Nate Seeskin
AVODAH Organizing Fellow

Time is of the essence in the negotiations over the Illinois state budget and political games continue to dominate the scene in Springfield, leaving Illinoisans to question how our state will look once Fiscal Year 2016 begins in July. Members of the Democratic-controlled Illinois General Assembly (ILGA) failed to reach a budget agreement with Republican Governor Bruce Rauner by the June 1st deadline. Now, ILGA must approve a budget plan by the end of June with a supermajority in both chambers (36 in the Senate, 71 in the House) in order to pass. In the mean time, Governor Rauner is suggesting that with decreased revenues coming in this year, that Illinois has no choice but to make $6 billion in cuts to social services like Medicaid, mental health programs, public transportation, and state universities. At the same time, Governor Rauner is attaching his controversial pro-business Turnaround Agenda as a condition to achieving any type of agreement in the negotiations.

Read the rest of this entry »



We’re not waiting: #TraumaCenterNow

June 2, 2015

By Daniel Kaplan
JCUA Community Organizer

uofc

On August 18th, 2010, community youth leader Damian Turner was shot less than four blocks from one of the best hospitals in the world, the University of Chicago Medical Center.  Damian died en route to the nearest trauma center, more than 9 miles away at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Damian’s death highlighted the south side’s vulnerability to gun violence because of a lack of emergency medical care. South Side organizations began a campaign for a Level I trauma center at the University of Chicago.

blue-button-take-actionFor five years, the University of Chicago’s neighbors have called on the University to open a trauma center for the south side. Five years later, the south side is still waiting for the University to give serious consideration to the needs of the community.  The community members can’t wait any longer. That is why JCUA is joining the trauma center coalition for a week of action on the University campus.

Map

Jewish teachings forbid us from standing over the blood of our neighbors, and command us to do everything necessary to save a life. As temperatures rise for the summer, so will gun violence fatalities. Now is the time to take action. We must prioritize saving lives and ending the trauma center desert on the south side.

Why should the University of Chicago host a Level I trauma center? The university is currently raising $4.5 billion for its capital campaign. It would take less than half of one percent of this to open a Level I trauma center. And, in a recent study, The Illinois Department of Public health identified the University of Chicago as the best candidate for hosting a Level I trauma center on the South Side.

Having recently received the nomination to host the Barack Obama Presidential Library, the University of Chicago has an even greater responsibility to also host a trauma center. This weekend, Father Michael Pfleger wrote in the Chicago Tribune, “Wouldn’t it be both hypocritical and shameful to bring the library of President Barack Obama, who championed and fought for national health care (a part of his presidential legacy), to a university that fails to provide emergency care to those most in need on the South Side of Chicago?”

Yes-You-Can

We are not waiting one minute longer. Join us in action.

RSVP-Blue-ButtonThursday, June 4th at 6:30 pm: Interfaith Vigil for a Trauma Center at 58th and Maryland

Saturday, June 6th at 10:15 am: Action near the University campus quad

Saturday, June 6th at 11:30 am: March and die in on 59th and University

Use these hashtags to tag your social media posts:

#stillwaiting
#traumacenternow
#dearmrpresident
#bringithome
#blacklivesmatter


Governor Rauner: Be A Pursuer of Justice

May 27, 2015

Rabbi-ReevesBy Guest Blogger Rabbi Frederick Reeves 
KAM Isaiah Israel

On Wednesday, May 13, JCUA took part in a rally with over 200 people to call attention to the devastating impact of Governor Rauner’s “Turnaround Budget” on those who are most vulnerable across the state.  As we gathered in front of one of the Governor’s ten homes, Rabbi Fred Reeves of KAM Isaiah Israel gave the opening prayer, posted below.

Together we turn our thoughts and direct our words to the Eternal in this universe.

Eternal One, we gather together here this day each one of us from our own place. We come from many neighborhoods; we come from many faith traditions, but we are united in our belief that bringing justice into our world is the duty of humanity.

Grant diligence to us as we work for the betterment all the citizens of Illinois. Imbue us with a love of our fellow human beings so that we work not for our self- aggrandizement, but for the improvement of the position of others.

Keep our elected leaders in health as they perform the difficult task of leading this great state, and grant wisdom and discernment to them as they make the choices that determine the direction that this state will go. And especially to our governor, Bruce Rauner, grant a deep and motivating sense of justice for all of the citizens of Illinois. Help him do what is right. Silence those voices around him encouraging him to help those who do not need his help, and strengthen those voices calling on him to help the helpless, lift up the fallen, feed the hungry. Make our governor into a Pursuer of Justice.

For all this, we pray to You, Eternal One. We say together, Amen.

Group-Shot

As a rabbi, I am guided by the words of my own tradition, and there are two words which call out most powerfully, so powerfully in fact, that one of them is used twice. Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof: Justice Pursue Justice. We stand here as part of the Responsible Budget Coalition rejecting Governor Rauner’s proposed budget because of the unacceptable way that he has tried to make an unbalanced budget look like a balanced one. A truly balanced budget is not only balanced in terms of dollars and sense, it also is balanced in social responsibility and balanced on the scales of justice for our society.

It is an unbalanced budget that slashes critical investments in Illinois families and our future including transportation, education, and health care.

It is an unbalanced budget that denies Illinois families the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty, make ends meet and send their children off to school.

It is an unbalanced budget that denies access to health care, a good education, quality child care, and universities people can afford, and good roads, buses and trains to get back and forth to work.

It is an unbalanced budget that creates revenue shortfalls by failing to maintain responsible tax rates and instead has harmful and shortsighted tax cuts which have time and again failed to produce the benefits that their supporters promise.

So I call on Governor Rauner to clean up his unbalanced budget, and to present one that balances responsibility with the needs of those whom he was elected to serve. I call on him to put the teachings of justice into practice and become a pursuer of justice for all of the citizens of Illinois.


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