Jewish Council on Urban Affairs – Chicago Newstips by Community Media Workshop Chicago Community Stories Mon, 08 Jan 2018 18:45:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Communities mark 9/11 with calls for solidarity Fri, 09 Sep 2011 18:23:45 +0000 On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, community interfaith gatherings will remember victims and the spirit of unity with which the nation responded to the attacks.

And one ongoing Jewish-Muslim collaboration founded in the days following the 2001 attacks is rededicating itself to work together “toward a more inclusive, diverse, and just society.”

In Marquette Park, community groups and religious institutions will gather on the steps of St. Rita of Cascia Parish, 6243 S. Fairfield (9:15 a.m., Sunday, September 11) to mark the loss of life including 9/11 victims, first responders and soldiers and civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, while denouncing attempts to use the tragedy to scapegoat Muslims.

Participating groups include local churches in the Southwest Organizing Project, the Inner-City Muslim Action Network, Beth Shalom Synagogue, Holy Cross Hospital, and Ephraim Bahar Cultural Center.

“The events of September 11, 2001 only served to strengthen our resolve that diverse communities striving together towards social justice, human rights, and human dignity is the very solution to defying the divisive and destructive forces that endeavored to claim that day,” says Rami Nashashibi, Executive Director of IMAN.

On the West Side, ecumenical prayers will be offered by neighborhood clergy and health screenings will be provided by a group of Muslim medical professionals at a Partners for Peace event (3 p.m. on Sunday), at New Mount Pilgrim MB Church, 4301 W. Washington.  Sponsors include the West Garfield Park Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, the Leaders Network, and Elmhurst College.

The response to 9/11 “showed the resilience of the country, which is what makes us great – our ability to bounce back from that kind of attack on our freedom,” said Rev. Marshall Hatch of New Mount Pilgrim and the Leaders Network.  He adds that he’s hopeful that with a similar “sense of urgency with the economic crisis, we’ll pull through and the best is yet to come.”

Chicago Is The World informs us that the Fulcrum Point New Music Project will present a commemorative program at the Harris Theater in Milennium Park (3 p.m. on Sunday) featuring songs and prayers from Buddhist, Christian, Islamic and Jewish traditions, along with contemporary compositions.  (The blog also passes along resources to help journalists improve coverage of Islam.)

Ten years of Jewish-Muslim collaboration

Meanwhile, the Jewish-Muslim Community Building Initiative marks ten years since its creation by the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs as a response to increased violence and hate crimes against Muslims following 9/11.

JMBCI continues to hold Jewish-Muslim text studies throughout the year as well as events including the annual Iftar in the Synagogue, which last month brought together 400 Jews and Muslims in an interfaith celebration of Ramadan.

JMCBI also fosters interfatith organizing efforts, recently including the partnering of Jewish, Muslim and Christian youth groups to advocate for equitable school funding in Springfield, and support for anti-foreclosure efforts in Chicago Lawn.

JCUA issued a statement mourning the losses of 9/11 and honoring the courage of first responders. “Unfortunately, the justified fear and anger brought about by the attacks was in many cases misdirected. We witnessed the marginalization and demonizing of Muslim Americans, including hateful speech and violent actions.  As we collectively mourn and remember the victims of 9/11, we must vigilantly ensure that this shared tragedy does not become an opportunity for scapegoating.”

“Empowering each other by mutually respecting our differences is the spirit on which this country was founded,” ,” said JCUA’s Rabbi Asher Lopatin, co-chair of the JMCBI advisory committee. “It is this torch that we must carry forward as we commemorate our darkest times.”

More here:


“Devastation and fear”: a film on Postville Tue, 19 Jul 2011 17:39:38 +0000 A new film brings out the poignant human stories behind the headlines about the May 12, 2008 immigration raid on the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa.  Please watch this trailer:

Filmmaker Luis Argueta will speak at a Chicago screening of “abUSed: The Postville Raid,” joined by local immigration rights activists who traveled to Postville to support victims of the raid and by Rev. Steve Brackett of the St. Paul Lutheran Church of Postville.

The screening takes place Wednesday, July 20, at 5 p.m. at the National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th Street.

The largest workplace raid in U.S. history was intended as a “pilot” to be replicated across the country, according to the film, but instead it generated widespread criticism.

The film addresses the humanitarian crisis created by the raid as well as the constitutional and human rights issues raised by assembly-line prosecutions and deportations that resulted.

One thing that comes across clearly is the terror experienced by parents and children concerned about their family members.  One local church volunteer sums it up: “Devastation and fear.”

Agriprocessors owner Sholom Rubashkin was convicted of fraud in June 2010 and sentenced to 27 years in prison.  No charges were filed concerning widespread wage, health and safety, and child labor violations.

Members of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs were among those who responded to the raid at the nation’s largest kosher meatpacking plant, helping to organize a massive protest and returning regularly with resources for food, shelter, and legal assistance.

The raid “cast a spotlight on how broken our immigration system is,” and “seeing the devastation to the families and the impact on the whole town’s economy” spurred JCUA to make immigration reform a priority, said Jane Ramsey, executive director of the group.

In 2009, JCUA helped launch a national Jewish Campaign for Immigration Reform.

“We are quite unhappy with the escalation of deportations” under the Obama administration, Ramsey said.  “It’s only exacerbating the problem.”

Brackett is a leader of the Postville Community Benefits Alliance, which has sought unsuccessfully to open a dialogue with the plant’s new owners.  Ramsey said Brackett has told her many of the old problems at the plant are returning, including wage and safety issues.

Chicagoans to march in Postville Wed, 23 Jul 2008 03:40:59 +0000 Members of Chicago’s Jewish and immigrant communities will travel to Postville, Iowa, to participate in an interfaith service, march and rally for immigrant rights on Sunday. On Saturday, U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez and members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus will be there for a fact-finding visit.

On May 12 Postville was the scene of the largest immigration raid in the nation’s history. Nearly 400 immigrant workers were detained at the AgriProcessors plant, the nation’s largest kosher slaughterhouse, and nearly 300 now await deportation.

That leaves families with over 500 children with no income and struggling to survive, said Tom Walsh of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs. He travelled to Postville with other JCUA staff earlier this month to deliver funds from a humanitarian drive the group is conducting for the families of detainees; they went with attorneys from the National Immigrant Justice Center of Chicago’s Heartland Alliance who provided legal assistance.

There’s a pervasive sense of fear in Postville’s Latino community following the raid, Walsh said. “It’s like nothing I’ve ever witnessed before,” he said.

JCUA is cosponsoring Saturday’s events along with St. Bridget’s Catholic Church in Postville, the campus ministry of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and Jewish Community Action in St. Paul. They’re calling for comprehensive immigration reform, family reunification, and just labor practices.

“We have a national immigration policy that is completely flawed,” said Walsh. “And it’s fixable. Why don’t we fix it?”

An interfaith service at St. Bridget’s, 135 Williams in Postville, is planned for 1 p.m. on Sunday, July 27, followed by a march through the town and a rally with speakers including victims of the raid.

On Saturday, Gutierrez, who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s immigration committee, will visit Postville along with Reps. Joe Baca, CHC chair, and Albio Sires, to meet with workers at the AgricProcessors plant, detainees and their children (some of them U.S. citizens) and religious and community leaders.

“An immigration system that is predicated on fear tactics and piecemeal, deportation-only policies profoundly worsens our immigration crisis by creating broken homes and tearing the fabric of our society,” Gutierrez said in a statement. “We have seen exactly that in Postville.”

JCUA awards Mon, 30 Jun 2008 18:35:31 +0000 The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs is presenting its Courageous Voices Award to People’s Law Office, Telpochcalli Community Education Project, and Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin — at JCUA’s annual meeting on Tuesday, July 1, 6:30 p.m. (reception at 5:30) at the Spertus Institute, 610 S. Michigan (9th floor).

Long an advocate for victims of police abuse and wrongful conviction, People’s Law Office was instrumental in uncovering the Burge torture ring inside the Chicago Police Department.

Founded in 1998 to advocate for creation of a multipurpose cultural facility adjacent to Telpochcalli School, Telpochcalli Community Education Project has evolved into an innovative nonprofit offering ESL and literacy programs along with youth leadership development, immigrant rights, and health programs.

JCUA will also give the 2008 Voice of the Future Award to Tahli Hanuka, a recent graduate of Francis Parker High School.  Through JCUA’s teen social institute program, Hanuka has worked on a lead awareness program in Englewood, Jewish-Muslim youth activities, and Chicago Youth Initiating Change.

JCUA on Postville raid Thu, 19 Jun 2008 16:46:52 +0000 The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs will launch a humanitarian fund to help the families of  immigrants detained May 12 at a kosher meatpacking plant in Postville, Indiana.  It was the largest workplace raid at a single site in U.S. history.

JCUA is “outraged by the manner in which the immigration raid was conducted and by its devastating impact on the more than 300 people it has detained and on their families, which were left unable to pay for housing, food or legal fees,” said executive director Jane Ramsey in a statement.

Noting a growing consensus that the U.S. immigration system is “inconsistent, ineffective and inhumane,” Ramsey said, “Major U.S. industries are run on the backs of immigrant workers — underpaid, uninsured, unprotected individuals — and the capricious ICE round-ups, incarceration and deportation of these workers represent further abuses of their human rights.”

She called for swift enactment of comprehensive immigration reform and called on President Bush  “to reverse the charges against these workers and allow them to return to their families and communities.”

JCUA said 56 detainees, including 18 juveniles, were released with ankle bracelet monitors and another 300 are slated for deportation.

JCUA also expressed concern over reports of abuse of workers and mistreatment of animals at the AgriProcessors plant.