By Deborah Goldberg
JCUA’s Coordinator of Teen Programs
It seems like yesterday that the second session of our summer Or Tzedek program came to a close. In just 10 days, we were able to build an incredible community, engage with Jewish texts and traditions, explore social justice issues and campaigns happening in Chicago today, and take action to make Chicago a more just city.
The 11 teens who participated in this session were curious, energetic, excited, inclusive, and eager to put our Jewish values into action. We started Or Tzedek as individuals and left, 10 days later, as a community. Every step of the way–from deeply engaging in workshops on identity, privilege, and systemic causes of injustice to celebrating two Shabbatot as a community, from advocating to Illinois State Senator Julie Morrison’s Chief of Staff on the Domestic Worker’s Bill of Rights to leading a prayer vigil in support of the Trauma center Campaign—the teens’ commitment to Jewish social justice work was inspiring.
It’s impossible to capture everything we did in 10 days in one paragraph. The photo essay below shares some of the highlights of our 10 days together: (Click on any photo below to see a slideshow with comments!)
I tell people all the time—I have the best job in the whole world and that I get to work with young people from around the country who all have the power to create positive, systemic change. On our final morning together, I shared with the teens that I hope Or Tzedek and the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs are always places they will feel at home (I shared the same hope with our first session participants). It was sad to depart on that Sunday morning because the teens had truly built a Jewish social justice home in 10 short days together. At the same time, I am so excited to continue working with all our teens throughout this coming year and beyond as they continue to work to make the world a more just place!