See Something, Say Something

January 8, 2016

Lisa-for-blogIllinois State Budget Crisis Continues
Join JCUA in Springfield on January 27!

By Lisa Bendoff
JCUA Member

I’m writing this post as Illinois slogs into its sixth month without a budget. Governor Rauner, aided by a divided legislature, seems to be showing a tremendous indifference towards the citizens of his state. Illinois’ residents are being pushed into more and more vulnerable positions, as Gov. Rauner continues to prioritize reforms that will benefit his friends and business supporters rather than his suffering citizens.

When I look at Illinois right now, I see pain. But I also see hope.

This past year, I had the opportunity to participate in several Moral Monday actions with JCUA and its coalition partners.  Every Moral Monday had a theme or focus. For example, Jane Addams Senior Caucus led a Moral Monday around senior care funding and independent living assistance, and the final Moral Monday of the year in November focused on promoting the proposed LaSalle Street Tax. Though each Moral Monday was “sponsored” by different organizations, at each event there were members of other groups marching in solidarity with their fellow frustrated citizens, helping to bring a louder voice to their cries for justice. Chicago’s Moral Mondays became larger and larger, more and more inclusive, and, consequently, more empowering for the movement as a whole. Although frustration and anger were increasing at each action, each action made me more hopeful about Illinois’ future.

Governor Rauner is trying to use the budget hold-up and his non-budgetary concerns as divisive devices. But when I was at these Moral Mondays, I saw mutual respect. Groups of people coming together, supporting one another – that is where the respect is. When the governor and the government can’t respect us, when the government is, in fact, the cause of the citizen’s fear, it is empowering to remember that we can all respect one another, and continue moving forward together.

We have momentum, and I am excited to see that momentum continuing into 2016. JCUA is part of the Responsible Budget Coalition (RBC), which is planning a trip to Springfield on January 27th. We, along with other RBC member organizations, will be going down to Springfield to respond to Gov. Rauner’s State of the State address, and speak with Illinois legislators about the State of OUR State. I look forward to standing with hundreds of RBC members as we come together and inject reality into Gov. Rauner’s annual State of the Fairy Tale.

Sometimes there really is a difference between right and wrong; sometimes it is just not that complicated. The government is always telling us, if you “see something, say something.”  The government is playing political games with people’s lives and well being. We see it. We need to say something.

As James Madison wrote in Federalist 51, “Justice is the end of government. It is the end of civil society. It ever has been and ever will be pursued until it be obtained, or until liberty be lost in the pursuit.” Tzedek, tzedek tirdof – Justice, justice shall you pursue. We as Jews need to call for justice, as Jews we need to ensure justice for all. Join us on January 27th, and call for justice in Illinois.

For more information on how you can be a part of this important action, please contact Marla Bramble or Anna Rubin.

Members Make A Difference

December 30, 2015

By Randi Stern
JCUA Member

The day after Randi presented this reflection, the University of Chicago announced they would open a Level I Adult Trauma Center on their campus. You can read the coalition’s statement about the announcement here.

Randi and Stacy 2It has been quite an inspiring and educational year for me to be a member of JCUA and to have had such an active role in the success of the Trauma Center Coalition campaign. Before becoming a member of JCUA I had never worked for a social justice organization or thought a lot about the many social and economic injustices happening in the Chicago land area. Before joining the campaign I didn’t realize that there was even a trauma center desert on the south side of the city and that I was working in this desert as a long time employee of the University of Chicago.

There are a couple key moments that stand out this past year for me.  This past summer I was proud to march with my daughter Stacy, an Or Tzedek alum, as we joined with the coalition to walk from Washington Park to President Zimmer’s house to publicize the trauma center desert during the public meetings for the Obama Library.  It was so meaningful to have the support Randi and Stacyof my family and I feel fortunate that Stacy and I share this special bond and passion for JCUA.

I was also proud to march with the Jewish community and especially with those whose lives are most dramatically impacted by the lack of health care on the south side of Chicago.  It felt good to live out the values of Judaism–Tikkun Olam–to do good in the world and to help move the campaign forward.   In Judaism, Pikuach Nefesh teaches us that one must do whatever possible even to save one life.  This is what this campaign is about.

I was also proud to participate in the disruption at Rockefeller chapel during Alumni weekend. I almost didn’t go because I felt uncomfortable creating a disruption inside an alumni event, but am glad I did because it was important to be there to support JCUA and the Trauma Care Coalition. The actions during this weekend proved to be pivotal in pushing the U of C to join with Sinai Health Care for the new Level I Trauma center.

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