Meet JCUA’s New Board Members

July 9, 2015

JCUA is thrilled to welcome our three newest board members, David Block, David Feinberg and former staffer Irene Lehrer Sandalow. Each new board member has a personal connection to JCUA and has taken a moment below to reflect on how JCUA’s work resonates with their values. A heartfelt welcome to David, David & Irene!


image1An architect and urban planner, David Block has been involved in community development and affordable housing for more than 20 years.  In 2014, David joined VeriGreen Development as its Director of Development.  His first experience with JCUA was more than 20 years ago, when he attended the spring break Urban Mitzvah Corps program with a busload of fellow students from St. Louis. David lives in Evanston with his wife Susan and two young sons and is a member of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation.

“I’m excited about joining the JCUA board because it’s a great organization that operates at the intersection of Jewish spiritual values and practical causes that reflect those values.  I’m looking forward to offering my background in affordable housing and urban planning to the board.”


FeinbergDavid-DCDavid Feinberg is the Regional Director for the Turner-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund, where he is responsible for underwriting and executing investment opportunities in the Central region. David began his career as an educator, and taught 3rd grade, middle school, and ran an after school program in South Phoenix with Teach For America. He has led social justice service trips for AJWS, and has continued his involvement in educational equity by serving on the Pulaski Elementary School LSC, a Chicago Public School.

“After moving to Chicago in 2012, I quickly realized that JCUA embodied the Jewish value system and inclusive community with which my family and I identify, and that I hope to impart to my children. The Community Ventures Program is a perfect place for me to plug in, make an impact, and put my professional skills and personal passion to use.”


HeadshotIrene Lehrer Sandalow is the Chicago Senior Project Manager of URJ’s B’nai Mitzvah Revolution. Irene is passionate about Jewish social justice and creating spaces for Jews to imagine, design, and experiment with new ways to own and shape the future of Jewish life and tradition. From 2006-2012, Irene worked at JCUA where she educated and mobilized members in local and national social justice campaigns, and served as the director of the JMCBI. Irene and her husband Nathan Sandalow are the proud parents of Eli and Abe, devoted Blackhawks fans.  Her family lives in Lakeview and are active members of Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation.

“JCUA has had profound influence on my life and gave me a home to advance social justice in our country. I have been deeply inspired by the leadership of JCUA and it’s an honor and privilege to be part of an organization that is working to address the root causes of injustice and is fearless about challenging the status quo. JCUA does what is right, not what is easy. JCUA is the prophetic Jewish voice of our city and I am looking forward to supporting its mission. As Rabbi Robert J Marx wrote: “I feel that freedom is Judaism, that Passover is not 3,000 years old- that it is today, and that we are part of it.”

 

 


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 »



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


Meet Our Super Awesome Or Tzedek Summer Staff!

May 19, 2015

deborah-goldbergBy Deborah Goldberg
JCUA Manager of Teen Programs

I am so thrilled that Or Tzedek Summer 2015 is right around the corner!  My name is Deborah Goldberg and I am the Or Tzedek program coordinator.  I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, and before working for JCUA, I worked as an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, D.C. (I’m also the reigning treasure hunting champion of Washington University, I love puzzles and brainteasers, and I would live in Panera if they would let me.) I like to tell people that my job at JCUA is the best job in the world because I get to do what I love—engage teens in social justice work within a Jewish context, and have fun doing it!

Below, you can read more about the other staff members who will be joining the Or Tzedek team this summer!  They are experienced, passionate, talented people, and I am so happy they’ll be part of our community.

There are still spaces left for teens to be part of this transformational summer program!  Register here, or contact Deborah Goldberg, Coordinator of Teen Programs, at deborah@jcua.org or 312-663-0960 for more information.

Talia Barzel

Talia Barzel

“I am so excited to join Or Tzedek as a staff member this summer! As a mixed-race Chinese-American Jew, issues of racism, immigration, and labor justice motivate me both personally and professionally. I am equally passionate about study and mentoring youth.  I spent the last several years teaching Hebrew school in the Philadelphia area, designing justice-oriented Jewish curricula, and counseling teenagers of many backgrounds.”

Talia holds a B.A. in linguistics from the U of C and will begin a Master’s of Social Work at Columbia in the fall. She will be joining us for both sessions of Or Tzedek.

Sam Sawyer

Sam2

“I’m finishing up my final semester at the University of Vermont, where I majored in Global Studies and Spanish.  I’m originally from Minneapolis, and I participated in Or Tzedek as a teen and spent a summer interning for JCUA.  Or Tzedek inspired me to see how social justice issues are Jewish issues.

I am passionate about refugee and immigrant rights and how health disparities are related to racism and other systems of oppression.  I am excited to start my post-college life in Chicago and to inspire teens to fight injustice through a Jewish lens!”

Sam will be joining us for Session 1.

Emma Epstein

emma3

“I am so excited to be staffing Or Tzedek this summer!  When teens are exposed to new ideas and communities, it can be a transformative experience that shines light on new ways of thinking.

I want to infuse Or Tzedek with kavana, or intention, connecting our spirituality and faith to the values of creating a better world for all. This will be my first summer in the Midwest and I am ready to learn, grow and celebrate with you in Chicago!!”

Emma is a social work graduate student at the University of Chicago, and she will be joining us for Session 2.

Aryeh Bernstein

Aryeh-BernstinAryeh is hanging with Or Tzedek as our Jewish educational consultant. He is a Torah educator, culture integrator, and 5th-generation South Sider. He teaches for Mishkan Chicago and elsewhere, and co-founded the Northwoods Beit Midrash at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin. In 2011, he independently released a hip-hop album called A Roomful of Ottomans.

“I can’t wait to get to work on the amazing task of translating, to the best of my ability, what Torah expects of us as responsible human beings and Jews in today’s metro Chicago, and have fun doing it!”


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