Alex Chernick reflects on the fights for citizenship, against deportation, and more.

By Alex Chernick

The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA) created our Immigration Justice committee following the presidential election of Donald Trump. Five years later — as the Biden administration begins with a Democratic-controlled Congress — we continue our work with urgency and persistence.

Our committee advances immigration justice through diverse, but interconnected means: we participate in grassroots campaigns to reform immigration policies on the local, state, and federal levels, we do political education about the harmful systems affecting immigrant communities, and we develop relationships of solidarity with immigrant organizations across the city.

This summer, we’re joining our coalition partners in the Illinois…


CHICAGO — It is with tremendous sadness and heavy hearts that we share news of the passing of our extraordinary founder, teacher, and lifelong champion for justice Rabbi Robert J. Marx. Rabbi Marx passed away peacefully at his home on the Passover holiday, March 28, 2021, with his beloved family by his side. He was 93.

Rabbi Marx founded the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA) in 1964 out of a conviction that the Jewish call to pursue justice — as it says in Deuteronomy, “Justice, Justice You Shall Pursue” — is the most sacred of all the Torah’s teachings…


I was a member of JCUA’s Or Tzedek teen internship program during the summer of 2018, where I learned about organizing and social justice from a Jewish perspective. I wanted to stay involved with JCUA when the program ended. Since I live on the North Shore, I went to the North Suburban Organizing Team (NSOT) meetings where, usually, I saw almost no other teens. Having young people present and engaged at organizing meetings is so important because we are the next generation. We are growing up in this country and will shape the policies of the future, so we need…


JCUA is highlighting amazing members in our community working at the intersection of social justice, organizing, and Jewish values. Today we spotlight Brother Mike Eldridge, a core member of JCUA’s Kol Or Jews of Color Caucus and the Police Accountability & Public Safety Committee.

Mike grew up in Albany Park, Chicago with his aunt where they celebrated Jewish cultural holidays at home. Around the time of his Bar Mitzvah, he became active in an Orthodox synagogue called Young Israel of Chicago. …


February 2021 — For 57 years, the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA) has worked to advance racial and economic justice across Chicago and Illinois. As a Jewish organization dedicated to social justice, we are deeply committed to the fight against antisemitism. We believe that adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism at the city or state level is not an effective strategy to fight antisemitism as it exists today.

JCUA joins Jewish organizations such as the Union for Reform Judaism and Bend the Arc in expressing concern that politicizing the definition of antisemitism could be…


After five years of organizing, the Welcoming City Ordinance amendments have passed through the Chicago City Council.

By Anna Rubin, JCUA Lead Organizer

When JCUA joined the Chicago Immigration Working Group (CIWG) in the wake of the 2016 election, the urgency of protecting immigrant communities was clear. We had just elected a president who was hell bent on deporting as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, with as little oversight or reasoning as possible. It felt like our communities in Chicago were totally exposed.

Chicago had led the way in protecting immigrant residents when Mayor Harold Washington first passed the Welcoming City Ordinance (WCO), which was later updated under Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2012. These…


The coup attempt unfolding in Washington D.C. and state capitals across the country should shock but not surprise us. Since taking office, Donald Trump and his administration have embraced white supremacists and their authoritarian disregard for democracy, civil liberties, and equality. Today’s actions were the obvious next steps following years of escalating rhetoric and behavior.

This does not make the chaos any less frightening. The scene outside the U.S. Capitol displayed a gruesome, terrifying image of the fascist forces Trump has empowered: Confederate flags, a giant cross, and Nazi imagery — including the antisemitic words of U.S. Congresswoman Mary Miller…


We are so proud of what our community accomplished and the power we’ll carry forward.

When JCUA members voted overwhelmingly to take on the Fair Tax campaign, we knew it would be difficult. Voters don’t trust Illinois lawmakers. The ultra-wealthy would do what they can to prevent tax increases. The dominant narrative in our society holds that all government intervention is bad and all individual wealth is good.

Despite everything we were up against, we never shied away from this difficult undertaking. Indeed, JCUA selects campaigns that are controversial and challenging because we understand that meaningful social change requires transformation at the foundations of our political and economic systems. Fair Tax offered us that opportunity.


The flat tax system disproportionately harms poorer residents — particularly Black and Brown communities. The Fair Tax is an important step toward economic justice, and it aligns with core Jewish values.

We are Jewish clergy, leaders, and institutions from across Illinois. We have come together to announce our support for the Illinois Fair Tax and to encourage Illinois voters to vote Yes for the Fair Tax in the upcoming election.

Illinois is one of nine states with a flat tax system, in which residents pay the same percentage of their income regardless of how much they make. This system disproportionately harms poorer residents — particularly Black and Brown communities — as the bottom 20 percent of earners in Illinois shoulder twice the tax burden as the top 20 percent of earners.


By Rabbi Bruce Elder

The past few weeks have been trying for our country. We have been reminded, once again, of the pain white America has inflicted unabated on African Americans for the past 400 years.

As outraged as we might be at George Floyd’s murder, white Jews must respond in a way that centers not our emotional response, but the voices and demands of the African American community.

We should respond in a way that is guided by three basic Jewish principles:

1) Shema (Listen): For too long, African American voices have been muffled by those of us who think we know what…

JCUA

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