As communities in Texas, including the large Jewish community in Houston, suffers some of the worst flooding in their state’s history, JUF is working alongside our federation partners to help the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston meet the urgent and evolving needs of Jewish families whose lives are significantly impacted.
Jewish neighborhoods were particularly hard hit, as related by Houston resident and Jewish News Service editor Jacob Kamaras, who offered a distinctly Jewish perspective on the flooding.
Our own JUF has set up a fund if you prefer to donate through Chicago’s Federation: www.juf.org/HurricaneHarvey. Or donate via our hotline (312) 444-2869 or send a check payable to Jewish Federation Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund to 30 S. Wells Street, #3155, Chicago, IL 60606.
The Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago has announced the sixth annual “Double Chai in the Chi: 36 Under 36” list of young Jewish movers and shakers in Chicago.
(The letters of the Hebrew word “Chai,” which means “life,” also represent the number 18.)
Check out the list and full bios online at: www.oychicago.com/36under36
Presented by JUF’s Young Leadership Division (YLD) and Oy!Chicago – an outreach website for Chicago 20- and 30-somethings – the list shines a spotlight on the faces of Chicago’s Jewish future and recognizes the amazing contributions of this generation. The young professionals featured are noted for making a difference through their work, giving back in their free time, and earning distinction in the Jewish community and beyond.
“This year’s list does not disappoint – I can guarantee you that the future of our Jewish community is in good hands with these young leaders at the helm,” said Stefanie Pervos Bregman, co-founding editor of Oy!Chicago. “This marks our sixth year of this initiative and I’m always amazed at the innovative, philanthropic work that is happening right here in Chicago.”
This year’s list is replete with entrepreneurs, activists, fundraisers, and more, running the gamut from writers to rabbis, attorneys to social workers… and, well, the list goes on.
“This is our future, and these young people are our future leaders,” said Lisa Tarshis, incoming YLD Board President and former award winner. “I love all the creativity and passion that always comes through, and the impact that is being made across a variety of sectors-both today and for the years ahead.”
Donations to JUF of up to $36 in recognition of a 36 under 36 honoree will be matched in full, doubling the impact and benefit to those in need in the community. Learn more and donate at https://donate.juf.org/36Under36.
Full profiles of each honoree are available on the Oy!Chicago website.
The 36 winners will be honored at YLD’s “WYLD” party at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, August 10 at Old Crow Smokehouse in River North, at 149 W Kinzie. The party is open to the public. Tickets are available for $20 in advance or $30 at the door. $5 of each ticket will be donated to JUF’s 2017 Annual Campaign to provide services for those in need. To register, visit http://bit.ly/WYLD2017 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org . Register early – last year’s party completely sold out!
Friends and Neighbors,
Every year, the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago runs a summer internship program for local students who are captivated by Jewish community building and are interested in developing their own professional portfolio. The students who are selected to participate after a highly competitive application process are assigned to work with agencies and organizations affiliated with JUF. For the first time, the Jewish Community Council of West Rogers Park was partnered with a Lewis summer intern, Chani Morgenstern.
Open the news, and one can see many stories about anti-semitic incidents around the country, including desecration of cemeteries, threats and attacks against Jewish centers. There have been so many statements of support from our neighbors and friends, but statements are one thing and action is another. I’d like to suggest how we can combat the stories of negativity with positive acts.
As we have mentioned, we are proudly partnering with JUF TOV on Good Deeds Day on April 2, 2017. Good Deeds Day is an annual celebration of doing good—where all around the world hundreds of thousands of volunteers help others, putting into practice the simple idea that every single person can do something good, be it large or small, to improve the lives of others and change the world.
Our local volunteer project, that JCCWRP is partnering on with JCC Chicago and CJE Senior Life will take place at the Bernard Horwich JCC on Touhy to make cards, tissue paper flowers, and decorative vases that will go to residents at CJE.
Date: Sunday, April 2, 2017
Time: 3:00pm – 4:30pm
Location: 3003 W. Touhy Ave., Chicago – parking available
As a reminder, you must register in advance at https://www.jccchicago.org/eve
Some 1,000 Chicagoans of all faiths gathered Wednesday afternoon for an event titled “Love Thy Neighbor: An Interfaith Gathering Against Hate” at Chicago Loop Synagogue.
Sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish United Fund, the event featured stirring words against intolerance and for unity from Jewish, Muslim, and Christian faith and community leaders.
The synagogue was the target of vandalism early Saturday morning, Feb. 4, when an attacker smashed a front window and placed swastika stickers on the building. It was the first such attack on the synagogue, which opened in 1959. A hate crime investigation led to the Tuesday morning arrest of Stuart Wright, 31.
Also last week, the Lake County JCC received a bomb threat and anti-Semitic vandalism was reported at the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center.
Concerned citizens and organizations from many faiths offered support to the Loop Synagogue, including Muslim women and children who sent notes and flowers.
“By coming together, we are reaffirming the best of what our country and our city is about,” said Emily Sweet, executive director of JCRC, who welcomed attendees at the interfaith gathering. She called on Chicagoans to “stand together, not just in response to one crime, but during all the days to come, reaffirming our commitment to the tenet that unites all of our faiths: Love thy neighbor.”
Chicago Loop Synagogue President Lee Zoldan recalled the 1 a.m. phone call she received regarding the vandalism. As she stood in the winter night with her husband, looking at the damage, she said, “We felt very alone. But we were not alone.” She explained that, from that day to this, her job has consisted mostly of saying “thank you” to hundreds of cards, calls, and donations. “One single act of hate led to hundreds of acts of love,” she said.
JUF/Jewish Federation President Dr. Steven B. Nasatir noted that the support from Christians and Muslims at the event mirrored JUF’s commitment to helping others, from the victims in Aleppo to the Federation’s leadership of the Illinois Refugee Social Service Consortium, which over the course of 40 years has “rescued over 125,000 victims of war and persecution of all faiths and nationalities.” He said these efforts emerged from the Jewish belief in “the absolute dignity and sanctity of every person.”
While religious hatred is old, Nasatir said, the level of hate crimes now occurring is “new and alarming. An FBI report released in November 2016 showed 5,818 hate crimes occurred in 2015, up about 6 percent over the previous year. Anti-Muslim hate crimes rose by 67 percent; Jews, just 1.7 percent of the population, are the target of more than 50 percent of all religious hate crimes.” His response: “Let the word go out from this assembly that we stand together to say ‘No!’ to all forms of hate. Let there be no light between us, save the light of liberty.” ( Read Nasatir’s complete remarks during the program. )
Bishop Sally Dyck of the United Methodist Church warned against the “temptation to go numb” felt by many due to “the outrages that erupt on a daily basis.” She spoke of the community as a unified “body” or “fabric” of neighbors. She said that she came to the gathering “to speak, to pray, and to stand with” the Jewish community in the “hope for shalom.” Dyck read a brief poem about the world — “Where does it hurt? Everywhere” — and said people must unite for “Shalom, everywhere.”
Jenan Mohajir, international programs specialist of the Interfaith Youth Core, told her Muslim parents’ immigration story. She said that she, too, raises her children with positive messages, even as one child asked about the synagogue vandal, “Will he break our window, too?”
To help her children cope, Mohajir had her children write messages of solidarity and buy flowers, then brought them to the synagogue on Sunday morning. “We have to be both vulnerable and vigilant,” she said. “My Islam is filled with love and hope. We leave no room for despair.”
Pastor Chris Harris of Bronzeville’s Bright Star Church recalled the Civil Rights movement, and urged the crowd to “say nothing about violence and hatred until we do something about them.” He recalled a recent news story about New Yorkers using hand sanitizer to scrub swastikas off the subway, responding, “What we need is heart sanitizer, to wipe away hatred and bigotry.”
Harris gave three instructions for dealing with challenges to community solidarity: Show up, step up, and speak up; he concluded with three more guidelines: Be connected, be concerned, and be compassionate. These actions engage the head, hand, and heart, he said.
Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III of Trinity United Church of Christ also spoke of the Civil Rights movement, saying that his father had marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and like them, “prayed with his feet.” He explained how jazz music was an amalgam of sounds and instruments from many places that still harmonized, while ensuring that “every instrument has a right to solo.” In this way, he said, “jazz taught America democracy.” He encouraged the attendees to “write, on the blank pages of history … a new song.”
Rabbi Michael Siegel, senior rabbi at Anshe Emet Synagogue, then led the assembly in prayer. He praised God for “believing in the power of holiness in us — despite our flaws.” He said that the light to dispel darkness comes from “acts of kindness … the power of love.” Explaining that the directive, “Love thy neighbor,” the event’s theme, was from the Torah, he asked God’s help to “meet hatred with love and unity” and “to find peace in the midst of upheaval.” Siegel concluded by leading participants in the singing of ” Oseh Shalom” (Establish Peace).”
JCRC Chairman David T. Brown closed the gathering. “I grew up in a world of ‘Never Again,’ in which the depravity of the 1930s and 1940s could never be replicated,” he said, “But our work is not done. We must continue to stand up for what is right.”
Brown said the day’s turnout gave him hope: “Look at this outpouring of community. We must continue to build bridges. This is only the beginning.”
Letters of support from Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, both out of town, were in the event’s program, as was a poem written by Chicago-area Jewish, Muslim, and Catholic fourth-graders participating in Poetry Pals, an organization that uses creative expression to promote understanding and peace in a multi-faith society. Poetry Pals received a two-year JUF Breakthrough Fund grant that will help the program expand its reach to middle and high schools, and create a curriculum that can be replicated in other cities.
Illinois First Lady Diana Rauner was in attendance at the event, as were Illinois Congressman Mike Quigley, Aldermen Michelle Smith, Debra Silverstein, and Ameya Pawar, as well as others representing the City of Chicago and Cook County. Also present were: Holocaust survivor Fritzie Fritzshall, president of the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center; Consul General of Israel to the Midwest Aviv Ezra; Michael H. Zaransky, chairman of the JUF Board of Directors; and representatives of other groups.
Attendees received buttons with the event’s theme, “Love Thy Neighbor,” in English, Hebrew, and Arabic. As Brown explained, “This is our clarion call. This is what our Chicago community believes in. And this is the sentiment we want to share far and wide.”
For video clips of all speakers, visit www.juf.org/videos .