Tell Your Rabbi: Join the Fight for Economic Justice in IL

November 5, 2013

No one really likes taxes.  However, those same taxes that we grumble and complain about do what many of us cannot do on our own.  They provide the infrastructure to care for the elderly, educate our children, dispense healthcare and assist in keeping our communities safe.  The tax code serves as a moral document of our collective values.

stop giveawaysYet, Illinois is only one of nine states that insists that everyone be taxed at the same rate (a “flat” tax), as if we all have equal ability to pay.  Part of striving for justice is recognizing and fighting against systems and structures that create and perpetuate inequality.  Our tax system is one of them and it is time that we fight for a change.

JCUA has partnered with the “A Better Illinois” campaign to ask our General Assembly for a constitutional amendment to create a more just tax system.  Right now, the campaign is calling on leaders of faith to endorse the campaign, recognizing that our lives are lived for others, most specifically the widow, the orphan and the vulnerable.


To help JCUA and A Better Illinois make an impact and create change, we need you talk to your Rabbi about the continued inequality and offer the chance to change it.  Ask your Rabbi to add their voice to our online petition asking for a constitutional amendment to create a fair, just and progressive tax.

A fair tax would:

  •  Allow for higher rates on those with higher incomes, and lower rates for those with lower incomes.
  • Provide resources for our schools and ensure that services to the vulnerable in our communities are maintained.
  • Stimulate economic growth, create jobs, and provide a means for Illinois to repair our crumbling infrastructure.
  • Provide desperately needed revenue for our state that has been lost because corporations have used loopholes to avoid paying their fair share.


[Video] A Tribute to Jane Ramsey’s Jewish Social Justice Leadership

January 25, 2013

Jane RamseyJane Ramsey has led the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs courageously and energetically for over three decades. Jane has been at the forefront of many critical issues affecting Chicago and the nation. Throughout the years, her leadership enabled the JCUA to become one of Chicago’s most active and important organizations speaking on behalf of human and civil rights issues.

As Jane retired from JCUA in September 2012, here is a tribute video to her work and legacy. It is up to us all to carry this torch forward, as is said in Perkei Avot (2:21) –

“You are not obligated to complete the task, but neither are you free to desist from it.”

Thank you, Jane.

JCUA joins media campaign contra Muslim and anti-Muslim extremists alike

October 22, 2012

JCUA takes action in solidarity with the Muslim community in the face of hate speech and ignorance, and participates in media campaign to reclaim the meaning of the Islamic concept of “Jihad” from Muslim and anti-Muslim extremists alike.

In late September, 2012 the anti-Muslim extremist Pamela Geller put up inflammatory ads in the New York City subway stations, which read: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat jihad” (see here). New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority at first refused to put up such hateful signs, but was forced by a court order to oblige Geller.

Many in the New York Jewish community have responded strongly, including a counter-campaign by Rabbis for Human Rights – North America, who put up subway signs reading “Choose love.”

Here in Chicago, the Muslim community has decided that a significant point has been overlooked on both sides. At the heart of the problem is the blatant misuse of the word “Jihad” as if it were an acceptable synonym of say “terrorism.”

Indeed, many Americans remain confused about the meaning of the concept of Jihad in Islamic tradition. Led by the Chicago chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago), the Muslim community has decided to reclaim the meaning of Jihad from Muslim and anti-Muslim extremists alike.

Read the rest of this entry »

Muslims, Jews and Christians Have to Work Together

December 12, 2011

JCUA’s Jane Ramsey and Rabbi Robert Marx were the “special honorees” at the Inner-City Muslim Action Network’s end-of-year dinner, Dec. 11, 2011.  This is Ramsey’s acceptance speech, along with a video message from Rabbi Marx, who was not able to attend in person.

On behalf of Rabbi Robert Marx and myself, and all of us at the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, I am deeply honored and moved to accept this extraordinary award from you and the Inner-City Muslim Action Network. [Ramsey’s remarks continue below video link.]

I think back 10 years ago, when IMAN and JCUA became partners, recognizing that we shared a common vision for a just city and nation, and of working from the grassroots up to tackle poverty and inequities, and to build bridges across racial, religious, ethnic and class lines.

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JCUA Sukkot Action Demands Housing Justice from Mortgage Bankers

November 1, 2011

Chicago Jews and community groups held an action on Oct. 11, 2011, outside a meeting of the Mortgage Bankers Association in Chicago, demanding a Sukkat Shalom (“shelter of peace”) for Chicago families. The action was sponsored by the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs and A Just Harvest.

Outside the conference, the group constructed a sukkah, inside which Sukkot-related rituals, an interfaith clergy press conference, and community testimonies took place.

Or Tzedek: Jewish Teens Working for Justice

May 23, 2011

Or Tzedek helps teens strengthen their Jewish identity and commitment to social justice.

As part of the program teens: work in Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods; explore Jewish approaches to social justice; develop leadership skills; examine urban issues and their impact; live in Chicago and enjoy the city in the summer; and earn 30-40 community service credit hours.

There’s still time to register for a summer session:

Rachel Patterson on her Or Tzedek experienceAdvanced Session
June 19-26

Regular Session #1
July 10-17

Regular Session #2
July 31-Aug. 7

 Register for Or Tzedek

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