Our Social Justice Projects

The pursuit of social justice has been one of our longstanding core values. The Social Justice Committee facilitates and coordinates educational, advocacy, volunteer, and other activities, including ongoing projects and new initiatives. Our congregation’s highly successful urban farm program continues its important work through the Food Justice and Sustainability Committee.

For more information about the Social Justice Committee's work, email committee chair Larry Joseph.
 

Helping Refugee Families

The Social Justice Committee at KAM Isaiah Israel has intensified its involvement with the Hyde Park Refugee Project (HPRP), an initiative of the Hyde Park and Kenwood Interfaith Council.  HPRP consists of Hyde Park residents and other volunteers from Chicago’s South Side working together to resettle refugee families in our neighborhood and transition them to self-sufficiency. 

Through its collaboration with local public schools, HPRP recently became aware of a refugee family from the Congo.  This blended family of 14 consists of two parents, four adult children, seven children who are attending Reavis Elementary School or Kenwood Academy, and one preschooler.

Thanks to a generous bequest from the estate of Barbara Greenberg, the Social Justice Committee has been providing emergency assistance in the form of clothing, household items, public transportation passes, and access to laundry facilities.

Members of our congregation can participate in various other ways — by suggesting employment leads, donating household items, tutoring both adults and children, providing early childhood enrichment, and contributing to an emergency fund for the Congolese refugee family.  For more information about volunteer opportunities, as well as donating to the emergency fund, go to https://hydeparkrefugeeproject.org/blog/

To learn more about KAMII’s involvement in the Hyde Park Refugee Project, contact Meredith Sices <meredith@sices.com>.

KAM Isaiah Israel's dedication to justice for immigrants and refugees was reaffirmed through a Resolution on Refugee Resettlement and a Statement of Commitments. We will soon begin a fundraising effort to support resettlement of a refugee family in the future. For more information on our refugee initiative, contact a team member: Diane SalkMeredith Sices, or Adam Shaw

"The Urgency of Now": Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC), based in Washington, D.C., is the hub of the Reform Movement’s social justice and legislative activity. The RAC created the Urgency of Now Resource Center after the 2016 election to help people act on the Reform Movement's most urgent legislative action alerts and resources. It is updated frequently to provide every opportunity to act on the issues that matter most to you and the Reform Movement, such as:

  • Urge Congress to preserve the Affordable Care Act and maintain access to health care for millions of Americans.
  • Support legislation to protect undocumented immigrants who have applied for or participated in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
  • Pass a resolution in support of undocumented immigrants
  • Take action on criminal justice reform
  • Join with other Reform Jews to protect trans students

REAVIS SCHOOL PARTNERSHIP

This project was established to support nearby Reavis Elementary Math & Science Special School. Reavis serves approximately 300 students in grades Pre-K through 8. With the enthusiastic cooperation and participation of many of Reavis’s administrators and teachers, our congregants have been actively involved in volunteering in classrooms, assisting teachers and students with individual and class needs, performing clerical tasks, and giving tzedakah for the benefit of the school. Additional volunteers are both needed and welcome. For more information, email Sheila Shochet or Lucy Ascoli

Adult Learning

We periodically host Shabbat morning discussions on social justice issues. Topics for 2017-2018 include gun violence in Chicago, the future of health care reform, and juvenile justice reform in Illinois.

Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA) partnership

The JCUA is the Jewish voice for social justice in Chicago. KAM Isaiah Israel is a founding member of their synagogue partnership, and Rabbi Reeves is a current member of the JCUA Executive Committee. JCUA works on campaigns focusing on racial and economic injustice, outreach to other communities in Chicago, and developing youth interest in social justice. For information about upcoming events and current initiatives, visit the JCUA's website.

Food Justice and Sustainability

KAM Isaiah Israel is unique in our award-winning, nationally-recognized food justice and sustainability program. Our urban farm brings access to nourishing, wholesome food, clean air and water, healthy soil to the community. We have transformed our lawns and those around the neighborhood into food-producing micro-farms. Our farming group grows fruits and vegetables and distributes the harvests to hot meal programs near the synagogue (over 22,000 pounds to date). For more information, click here.