In the Media: JCUA’s Response to Anti-Muslim Bus Ads

November 16, 2012


JCUA’s Or Tzedek Honored by Slingshot Fund

November 7, 2012


Teen social justice program is the only Chicago organization recognized among the nation’s 50 ‘most innovative’ Jewish nonprofits

Slingshot FundCHICAGO, Nov. 8, 2012 – A Chicago-based program that engages Jewish teenagers in social justice activism has been named one of North America’s 50 most innovative Jewish nonprofits. Or Tzedek, the teen social justice program of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, is the only Chicago organization included in the 2012-2013 edition of Slingshot, a funders’ resource guide for Jewish innovation.

Or Tzedek, which means “Light of Justice” in Hebrew, offers 8-day summer immersion sessions, a winter break leadership training retreat and numerous programs during the year. Crossing racial, religious and ethnic lines, Or Tzedek teens work closely with peers in Chicago’s diverse communities.

Enrollment in Or Tzedek has increased fivefold since its debut in 2007. Now engaging and inspiring as many as 500 young people each year, Or Tzedek participants have come from 18 states and Germany.

The 2012 Or Tzedek Winter Leadership Retreat is scheduled for Dec. 26-29 in downtown Chicago. Curriculum information and registration is available at

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JCUA Co-Sponsoring Unique Jewish-Muslim Concert

August 23, 2012

Phillip Simmons conducting the Lincolnwood Chamber Orchestra

The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs is partnering with the American Islamic Center of Bosniaks  and American Music Festivals to present a unique Jewish-Muslim concert.

When: Sunday, September 2nd, 7PM
: American Islamic College (640 W. Irving Park, Chicago)
This event on Facebook

Concert Highlights:

  • The Lincolnwood Chamber Orchestra, managed by American Music Festivals, will be joined by vocal soloist Imam Senad Agic, for the U.S. premiere of Josip Slavenski’s “Muslimani.”.
  • Additional highlights include guest speaker Rabbi Neil Brief, Ilya Levinson’s poignant “Shtetl Scenes,” works by John Williams from the movie “Munich,” new arrangements of traditional Sevdah and Bosnian popular music, and a performance by the Chicago Syntagma Musicum Chorus.

Imam Senad Agic, who will be doing vocals at the concert


General admission tickets are available for $25 at Call 773-469-5895 for more information.


The Jewish community and Bosnian Muslims share a common historical bond, being displaced at the hands of 15th Century Inquisitors and finding refuge in Bosnia-Herzegovina and neighboring areas under Ottoman rule. They suffered together at the hands of Nazi collaborators in World War II and fifty years later Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) suffered the first genocide in Europe since the Holocaust. Audience members will be invited to view the debut of the photo exhibit “Remembering the Genocide in Bosnia,” by Samir Hadzalic, Outreach Director for American Music Festivals.

In the National Museum in Sarajevo a Haggadah is proudly displayed. Written in Hebrew, it is one of the most beautiful books of its kind, dating back to around the 15th century when it was brought from Spain. Near the Museum, a Synagogue and Mosque stand next to each other, reminding us of the peaceful coexistence that Jews and Muslims enjoyed for centuries in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This friendship led to the development of Sevdah music, which combines folk elements of the Sephardic, Balkan, and Arabic traditions. It is through the music and text of these melancholy songs that their friendship can best be understood.

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Jane Ramsey to retire Sept. 1, capping off more than 30 years of social justice work with JCUA

August 19, 2012

For Immediate Release

Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, Chicago |
Media: Jonathan Lehrer |
312.663.0960 x. 126  |  After Hours: 312.521.0892

Jane Ramsey

CHICAGO, Aug. 15, 2012 – After three decades during which she defined the Jewish social justice agenda in Chicago, and shaped the organization that carried out the mission, Jane Ramsey has announced her retirement from the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs – the organization that she led for more than 30 years.

Founded by Rabbi Robert Marx in 1964 as a Jewish response to the emerging civil rights movement, under Ramsey’s leadership JCUA expanded its social justice role and has become the ”go-to” organization for those seeking allies in the fight for justice.

When then long shot mayoral candidate Harold Washington became the object of racial slurs, JCUA called for Chicagoans to act on their better nature. When CHA residents sought allies to ensure that their rights were honored as the city tore down its high-rises, JCUA pulled together the coalition of religious and civil rights institutions that became the tenants’ allies. In the wake of September 11th, 2001 when Chicago’s Muslim community became the target of hate crimes, JCUA reached out to offer support and solidarity, subsequently founding the Jewish-Muslim Community Building Initiative.

More recently, when Chicago’s Mexican communities were threatened by both gentrification and deportations, JCUA fought for immigration reform and battled the now-infamous practices of the Agriprocessors, Inc., a kosher meatpacking plant in Iowa. This led to a nationwide effort, the “We Were Strangers Too Jewish Campaign for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.”

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JCUA and Chicago Jewish Leaders Condemn Shooting of Mosque

August 13, 2012

The Muslim Education Center in Morton Grove

UPDATE [8/13/12] Since this statement was drafted, we have learned of yet another attack on a Muslim institution in Chicago’s suburbs; a home-made bomb was thrown at an Islamic day school during the evening prayers on 8.12.12. See details here, including JCUA’s response.


August 13, 2012

The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs and the undersigned community leaders are outraged and saddened by the violent assault on the Muslim Education Center (MEC) mosque in Morton Grove, IL, this past Friday night (August 10, 2012).

This attack on a house of worship is only the most recent in a dangerous string of incidents in the Midwest:

  • On August 5, 2012, six people of the Sikh faith were murdered at their temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
  • On August 6, 2012, a mosque in Joplin, Missouri, was deliberately set on fire.

In destroying property and taking the lives of innocent people, the crimes of the past week do immeasurable harm to the sanctity of the American values of religious freedom, diversity and equality.

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JCUA Condemns Murder of Sikhs in Wisconsin and Arson of Mosque in Missouri

August 6, 2012

Rabbi Capers Funnye and Eiman Abdelmuneim at “Iftar in the Synagogue” last Thursday evening.

Last Thursday on August 2nd, the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA) hosted 900 Jews and Muslims for “Iftar in the Synagogue” along with the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago and numerous other Jewish and Muslim community institutions. This was our largest “Iftar in the Synagogue” to date – an unprecedented interfaith celebration of diversity and solidarity.  But in the wake of this event, we are now witnessing violent acts of hatred and racism devastating communities of faith in the Midwest.

Drawing on our founding principles and our basic understanding of the imperative to view every person as created in the image of God, JCUA strongly condemns the horrific murder of six members of the Sikh faith in Oak Creek, WI and mourns this terrible loss of life. Furthermore, JCUA is deeply saddened and concerned to learn that a mosque in Joplin, Missouri has been destroyed by a suspected arsonist earlier today.

“JCUA and its members continue to affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every human being.  We are more committed than ever to build bridges across all races, ethnicities, and faiths,” said Judy Levey, JCUA’s CEO.  “This is the only way to fight hate – through understanding and respect.”

Jewish Council on Urban Affairs to honor Kalman Resnick and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia

June 8, 2012

Social Justice Award Recipients Kalman Resnick (left) and Chuy Garcia.

CHICAGO, June 7, 2012 – Two Chicagoans who are champions for immigrant rights have been named the 2012 recipients of the Rabbi Robert J. Marx Social Justice Award. The award will be presented to Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and Chicago immigration attorney Kalman Resnick by the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs.

Garcia and Resnick will be honored at a new JCUA event, entitled “Acts of Change,” at 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday, June 20 at the Ravenswood Event Center, 4043 N. Ravenswood Avenue, Chicago.

Author Tamar Manasseh will be the featured speaker, Rabbi Capers Funnye will serve as the program’s emcee. The entire event will be done “in acts” and will include songs from “Soul Sisters, a Multicultural Musical.”

For tickets, visit or call 312-663-0960.

“Acts of Change is a fun, celebration of exactly who we are and what we are about,” explains Judy Levey, JCUA’s chief executive officer.  “We are very excited to be spearheading a new kind of annual awards event that speaks to a multi-generational audience.”

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