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Create Change Together

Create Change Together

Racial and Economic inequality in Chicago is a complex issue that requires a nuanced approach. This program aims to address this issue through a multifaceted set of initiatives that strategically identified means of educating congregants and partnering with local organizations that have helped us remain proximate to the justice challenges of the community. Following the inspirational speech from Bryan Stevenson to serve as the program initiation, the social justice team set out to identify a series of activities that would raise awareness of racial and economic injustice and allow members to become directly engaged in addressing these issues. This program has addressed youth restorative justice, small business consultation in low-economic communities, juvenile incarceration and gun violence.

Community Contact Information

Temple Sholom of Chicago

Chicago, IL
http://www.sholomchicago.org

Goals

  • Raise congregational awareness of the multi-faceted racial disparity in Chicago
  • Involve the congregation in these efforts and integrate these efforts into every facet of the congregation
  • Partner with community-based organizations in effective action.

Partnerships

  • Second Baptist Church of Evanston
  • Jewish Council on Urban Affairs
  • Uptown People’s Law Center
  • Greater Englewood Community Development Corporation
  • Circles and Ciphers
  • ONE Northside

Implementation

June 2015

          Rabbi Conover led a text study on racial justice at a meeting of Temple Sholom’s Board of Directors

September 2015-January 2016

Rabbi Conover and Logan Zinman, Senior Regional Director of Youth Engagement for NFTY Chicago, conducted a racial justice class for high school students

August 2015

          Sholom Justice Committee initiated campaign on racial justice entitled Create Change Together

September 2015

          30 people attended a text study on racial justice on Shabbat Shuva

October 2015

During her Yom Kippur sermon, Rabbi Conover formally invited the congregation to get involved in Create Change Together

November 2015

50 Temple Sholom members attended One Book, One Sholom, a book discussion of Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

December 2015

18 members of Temple Sholom and Second Baptist Church of Evanston gathered at Second Baptist to begin discussing racial inequality in Chicago

January 2016

600 people attended Shabbat Services in which Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, spoke on racial injustice

300 people attended dinner afterward where 30 trained facilitators (Temple Sholom congregants) facilitated discussions around the table about racial injustice in Chicago and how we plan to address it. About 250 of the attendees are Temple Sholom congregants. The other attendees are community activists and potential community partners for racial justice work moving forward

February 2016

120 Temple Sholom congregants and approximately one dozen Second Baptist congregants attended a panel discussion at Temple Sholom with leaders from several community organizations doing grassroots organizing on issues related to racial justice in Chicago.; The goal was to determine a community organization as a campaign partner based on feedback from participants.

March 2016

25 members of Temple Sholom and 8 members of Second Baptist traveled together to the blighted Chicago neighborhood of Englewood to learn more about the Greater Englewood Community Development Corporation and its effects on the neighborhood. After that visit, some Temple Sholom congregants became essential in these efforts, several acting as mentors.

April 2016

Youth leaders of Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation spoke from the bimah at Friday night services about Restorative Justice and Peace Circles.

Hundreds of Temple Sholom Religious School students (grades 3-12) learned about solitary confinement and its adverse effects on the people who experience it.

May 2016

25 members of Temple Sholom went to the southwest side neighborhood of Back of the Yards to learn first-hand about the work of Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation and their employment of Peace Cirlces. Participants sat in a peace circle kept by Father David Kelly with members of Temple Sholom and youth from Back of the Yards.

Temple Sholom of Chicago officially entered a relationship with Jewish Council on Urban Affairs to become a synagogue partner

May-July 2016

Temple Sholom leader worked with JCUA Director of Organizing, Marla Bramble to design an Ally Workshop specifically for Jews to aid in building community relationships across differences and addressing implicit bias.

July 2016

Congregants toured the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center to learn about juvenile incarceration and assess whether there was a need for members to keep a Peace Circle there bi-weekly.

August 2016

Members of Temple Sholom joined the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs to participate in the 1,000 Mile March commemorating the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s march in Chicago

          25 members of Temple Sholom attended the JCUA Ally Workshop

September 2016

Initiation of partnership with Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation and Circles and Ciphers and participation of religious school students in youth restorative justice circles

October 2016

Temple Sholom’s Sisterhood hosted a dinner attended by 30 sisterhood members to sponsor a bus for a Reunification Ride in which approximately 100 children are able to make the 180-mile ride to visit their mothers at Logan Correctional Center

Rabbi Conover and two Social Justice co-chairs participated in JOIN for Justice’s training program, Don’t Kvetch, Organize! to learn how to best address structural racism through community organizing

November 2016-March 2017

5 members of Sholom Justice’s leadership attended a 4-day training program at Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation to become certified as Circle Keepers by community for Justice Youth Institute

March 2017

30 congregants attended a film viewing and panel discussion on reducing gun violence in Illinois, involved participation from representatives from the local and national advocacy groups and a parents who lost her son to gun violence in Chicago

Visit and talk from Xavier McElrath-Bay, a Chicago-based advocate for juvenile justice and Senior Advisor and National Advocate with the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth, titled “Derech Eretz and Juvenile Justice: Children are Not Born Bad”

June 2017

Date set to begin bi-weekly Peace Circles in the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in partnership with Circles and Ciphers.

Results

  • Partnered with six local organizations and congregations
  • Hosted various education sessions, talks and trainings on restorative justice and addressing implicit bias
  • Participated in numerous restorative justice discussions with at-risk Chicago youth
  • Contributed to consulting activities to support small businesses in low-income communities
  • Reached out to state representatives to voice our opinion on legislation and maintained a letter writing campaign to individuals in solitary confinement