Deadline for Illinois Budget Negotiations Passes: Take Action Now!

June 11, 2015
JCUA Board Chair and member Peggy Slater is interviewed at Raunerville action in MAy.

JCUA Board Chair and member Peggy Slater is interviewed at the Raunerville action in May.

By Nate Seeskin
AVODAH Organizing Fellow

Time is of the essence in the negotiations over the Illinois state budget and political games continue to dominate the scene in Springfield, leaving Illinoisans to question how our state will look once Fiscal Year 2016 begins in July. Members of the Democratic-controlled Illinois General Assembly (ILGA) failed to reach a budget agreement with Republican Governor Bruce Rauner by the June 1st deadline. Now, ILGA must approve a budget plan by the end of June with a supermajority in both chambers (36 in the Senate, 71 in the House) in order to pass. In the mean time, Governor Rauner is suggesting that with decreased revenues coming in this year, that Illinois has no choice but to make $6 billion in cuts to social services like Medicaid, mental health programs, public transportation, and state universities. At the same time, Governor Rauner is attaching his controversial pro-business Turnaround Agenda as a condition to achieving any type of agreement in the negotiations.

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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


Governor Rauner: Be A Pursuer of Justice

May 27, 2015

Rabbi-ReevesBy Guest Blogger Rabbi Frederick Reeves 
KAM Isaiah Israel

On Wednesday, May 13, JCUA took part in a rally with over 200 people to call attention to the devastating impact of Governor Rauner’s “Turnaround Budget” on those who are most vulnerable across the state.  As we gathered in front of one of the Governor’s ten homes, Rabbi Fred Reeves of KAM Isaiah Israel gave the opening prayer, posted below.

Together we turn our thoughts and direct our words to the Eternal in this universe.

Eternal One, we gather together here this day each one of us from our own place. We come from many neighborhoods; we come from many faith traditions, but we are united in our belief that bringing justice into our world is the duty of humanity.

Grant diligence to us as we work for the betterment all the citizens of Illinois. Imbue us with a love of our fellow human beings so that we work not for our self- aggrandizement, but for the improvement of the position of others.

Keep our elected leaders in health as they perform the difficult task of leading this great state, and grant wisdom and discernment to them as they make the choices that determine the direction that this state will go. And especially to our governor, Bruce Rauner, grant a deep and motivating sense of justice for all of the citizens of Illinois. Help him do what is right. Silence those voices around him encouraging him to help those who do not need his help, and strengthen those voices calling on him to help the helpless, lift up the fallen, feed the hungry. Make our governor into a Pursuer of Justice.

For all this, we pray to You, Eternal One. We say together, Amen.

Group-Shot

As a rabbi, I am guided by the words of my own tradition, and there are two words which call out most powerfully, so powerfully in fact, that one of them is used twice. Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof: Justice Pursue Justice. We stand here as part of the Responsible Budget Coalition rejecting Governor Rauner’s proposed budget because of the unacceptable way that he has tried to make an unbalanced budget look like a balanced one. A truly balanced budget is not only balanced in terms of dollars and sense, it also is balanced in social responsibility and balanced on the scales of justice for our society.

It is an unbalanced budget that slashes critical investments in Illinois families and our future including transportation, education, and health care.

It is an unbalanced budget that denies Illinois families the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty, make ends meet and send their children off to school.

It is an unbalanced budget that denies access to health care, a good education, quality child care, and universities people can afford, and good roads, buses and trains to get back and forth to work.

It is an unbalanced budget that creates revenue shortfalls by failing to maintain responsible tax rates and instead has harmful and shortsighted tax cuts which have time and again failed to produce the benefits that their supporters promise.

So I call on Governor Rauner to clean up his unbalanced budget, and to present one that balances responsibility with the needs of those whom he was elected to serve. I call on him to put the teachings of justice into practice and become a pursuer of justice for all of the citizens of Illinois.


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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