JCUA’s Or Tzedek internship for teens empowers young Jewish leaders across Chicagoland

Kayla Chandler is participating in the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs’ Or Tzedek organizing internship for teens in Chicagoland. The program aims to empower young Jewish leaders with the skills, knowledge and inspiration needed to pursue social change through a Jewish lens. The internship, which meets twice a month from September to May, offers participants the opportunity to: strengthen their understanding of social justice and systems of oppression from a root cause perspective; build skills to organize for social change in coalition with communities across Chicago; cultivate teens’ Jewish identity and values by connecting Judaism and social justice.

Applications are now open for 2020–2021! Learn more and apply.


JCUA’s Or Tzedek internship for teens empowers young Jewish leaders across Chicagoland

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Hope Werstler is participating in the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs’ Or Tzedek organizing internship for teens in Chicagoland. The program aims to empower young Jewish leaders with the skills, knowledge and inspiration needed to pursue social change through a Jewish lens. The internship, which meets twice a month from September to May, offers participants the opportunity to: strengthen their understanding of social justice and systems of oppression from a root cause perspective; build skills to organize for social change in coalition with communities across Chicago; cultivate teens’ Jewish identity and values by connecting Judaism and social justice.

Applications are now open for 2020–2021! Learn more and apply.


Let’s transform Chicago together.

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Happy new year and welcome to 2020. As many of us spend this time thinking about ways to improve ourselves as individuals, JCUA is thinking about the collective potential of the Jewish community. What could we accomplish if we recommit ourselves to taking care of each other? How could we live more fulfilling individual lives by extending our hearts and minds toward other people? What kind of world would emerge if we embrace the collective values that define our Jewish history?

These are the questions that animate JCUA’s work. There’s a concept we often return to within community organizing: in the process of transforming our world into a place of equity and justice, we simultaneously transform ourselves. As we work in partnership with the communities of Chicago to shift power in our city, we become powerful leaders in our own right. …


We speak with core JCUA member Mike Frankenstein about organizing for justice in Chicago.

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How did you get involved with the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, and what have you been working on?

When I retired in October of 2014, I made a list of things I wanted to do. One of them was to reconnect with my roots with JCUA. I wanted to get involved with a community organization doing social justice work and I wanted to do it with a Jewish lens. My ethos and religious beliefs are based in Jewish ethics and Jewish tradition. I believe in the concept of “Tikkun Olam” (repairing the world), and being directed toward supporting the other. Especially because the Jewish experience has always been the other. So we need to make sure the other is treated with dignity and respect, that’s the core of Jewish thought. …


Chicago Jews and allies come together on the first anniversary of the Tree of Life mass shooting to commemorate the tragedy and recommit to ending all forms of hate and oppression.

On October 27, 2018, a white nationalist gunman stormed into a Pittsburgh synagogue during Saturday morning prayers and murdered 11 Jews, in what was the deadliest antisemitic attack in our nation’s history.

In the year since, the threat of white nationalism has only gotten more dire. Similar attacks in Poway, El Paso, Dayton, and locations around the world have demonstrated the urgency in which we must confront this violent and reactionary movement, which puts not just Jewish lives but also Muslim, immigrant, Black and Latinx lives at risk.

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The vigil at Chicago’s Buckingham Fountain, organized by the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, was put together to honor the lives lost in Pittsburgh, connect the fight against antisemitism to the fights against other forms of oppression, and recommit to building a world that is safe and prosperous for all people. …


JCUA editorial appears in the Chicago Sun-Times

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In commemoration of the first anniversary of the Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh, our executive director Judy Levey has published an editorial in the Chicago Sun-Times about how JCUA is thinking about and responding to rising antisemitism and white nationalism by forging deep relationships with communities across Chicago.

“In times like these, it’s easy to resign ourselves to the idea that antisemitism is inevitable,” she writes. “We tell our children that no matter where we go, we’ll never be totally safe, because in every society throughout history, Jews have been (and will always be) targeted. But this approach is a mistake. To treat antisemitism as an eternal, almost primordial force beyond our comprehension blinds us to the political and social circumstances in which it emerges. …


We asked JCUA members to share how they’ll pursue justice in the Jewish year 5780. Here are their responses.

At this crucial time in our city, and at this special moment in the Jewish calendar, we ask you: how will you #RaiseYourVoice with JCUA? The next year will determine whether we elevate hate, racism and antisemitism, or whether we elevate justice, equity and multi-racial democracy.

Let us know!

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After an overwhelming member vote, JCUA will work to pass the referendum on Election Day next November.

Votes have been cast and counted, and we can now announce that JCUA members vigorously support moving forward with the Fair Tax 2020 campaign! We will now prepare to join our coalition partners in educating Illinois residents about this important issue and working to ensure the referendum passes on the November 3, 2020 ballot.

JCUA staff put forward a proposal at the July 31 JCore meeting to participate in a campaign to pass the Illinois Fair Tax referendum. After discussion and deliberation, we conducted a “temperature check” to determine if there was enough support to bring the proposal to the full JCUA membership base. A super-majority of members favored proceeding. …


Cydney Wallace was born and raised on the south side of Chicago. She graduated high school a year early and attended Spelman College in Atlanta, where she met her husband of nearly thirteen years. Cydney began working for Epiq Global (formerly Document Technologies, Inc.) in 2011 pushing a mail cart and, as of April 2019, became a member of the Operations Team as the Resource Select Team Manager. …


For the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’Av, JCUA co-sponsored a vigil outside an ICE detention center in Kankakee, Illinois. Three hundred Jews, immigrants and allies joined us to bear witness to the unspeakable suffering thousands of immigrant families face.

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Tisha B’Av is often considered the most somber day on the Jewish calendar. It’s the day we mourn the destruction of the holy temples of ancient Jerusalem. It’s the day we recount the tragedies Jews have experienced throughout our history: demonization, eviction, pogroms and genocide. It’s the day we reflect on the corrosive power of sinat chinam, baseless hatred, which animates our worst tendencies as individuals and nations.

We are a nation that hunts down, detains and deports immigrants. We are a nation that separates families, cages children and turns away asylum seekers. Our baseless hatred has metastasized.

To bring attention to this widespread suffering, JCUA and a coalition of Jewish and immigrant justice organizations co-sponsored a vigil, How Desolate Lie Our Borders,” outside the Jerome Combs Detention Center in Kankakee, Illinois. We took action because we believe it’s not enough for Jews to spend Tisha B’Av reflecting on our own suffering, but that we must also channel our collective resolve to confront the tragedies unfolding across our country. …

About

Jonathan Elbaz

JCUA Communications Manager

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