Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his daughter, Leah, leave today for Israel on a journey to celebrate her bat mitzvah, which took place two weeks ago. He took similar trips with his older children following their bnai mitzvot.
The nine-day trip, however, won't be limited to family business. The mayor will participate in the annual Israeli Presidential Conference with the likes of former President Bill Clinton, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev.
And he also will join the gala 90th birthday bash planned for Israeli President Shimon Peres, an intimate gathering of 3,000 invitees that includes world leaders, Nobel laureates, business moguls, and Hollywood celebs, such as Robert DeNiro and Sharon Stone. Oh, and at Peres' request, Barbra Streisand will be singing “Avinu Malkeinu.”
Eighteen religious and business leaders from Illinois signed an open letter Wednesday urging Congress to pass immigration reform legislation, currently under consideration by the U.S. Senate.
The group included Rabbi Michael Zedek of Emanuel Congregation, representing the Chicago Board of Rabbis, as well as Evangelical, Catholic, Mainline Protestant and Muslim leaders and prominent members of the business community. The group was convened by the Chicago office of the American Jewish Committee.
"Together with our partners, AJC believes that comprehensive immigration reform is in the best interest of America’s economy, security and values," said Ellen Carmell, Director of AJC's Bridging America Project. "It will make America safer and stronger and it will keep us true to our democratic principles and religious ideals.”
The letter calls on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform based on the following principles: federal action, a focus on families, law enforcement, the importance of immigrants to the economy, and a history of immigrants' role in building a free society.
"Our respective faiths share the understanding that we are all created in the divine image impelling us to welcome the stranger and treat all human beings with dignity and respect," the letter reads in part.
Photo: Rabbi Michael Zedek, speaking at the letter signing.
Whether you’re a history buff, film connoisseur, poetry enthusiast, or just love to learn, there’s something for everyone coming up on the South Suburban Jewish community calendar.
Building on previous success, the third round of funding through the Jewish Federation’s South Suburban Mini-Grant Program will continue to propel Jewish programs in the South Suburbs ahead. Fourteen projects will receive nearly $15,000 in support to enrich Jewish life in the South Suburbs in coming months.
The programs funded range from cultural to academic, and everywhere in between, including a Jewish film festival, a community text study, a celebration of poetry by Jewish women, an interfaith teen event, anti-Semitism workshops, and more.
The mini-grant program was launched in 2011 to kick-start expanded cultural, religious and educational opportunities in Southland communities. Proposals, solicited from Jewish organizations throughout the area, are reviewed by a group of local residents – the South Suburban Kehillah - and the selected projects receive small grants to help make them happen.
For more about the latest selected programs, which will begin this fall, click here.
On the eve of Iranian elections, Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk and Canadian MP Irwin Cotler have launched a new initiative to focus world attention on human rights violations in Iran.
In a Jerusalem Post op-ed, the two legislators announced creation of the Iranian Political Prisoners Global Advocacy Project, "where parliamentarians 'adopt' Iranian political prisoners and advocate on their behalf.
"While the Iranian government seeks to silence dissenters," they wrote, "we are determined to make their voices heard."
The move, reminiscent of the Free Soviet Jewry movement, is necessary, they write, because "to secure the release of these and other human rights heroes, Iranian political prisoners must become household names, and their cause must become our cause."
Kirk first floated the idea publicly while on a JUF mission to Israel two years ago, when he raised it during a conversation with former Soviet refusenik Natan Sharansky, now head of one of JUF's primary international partners, the Jewish Agency for Israel.
The handling of Sunday's protest at the Kotel, which drew hundreds of ultra-Orthodox opposed to women wearing tallitot and singing at the monthly prayer service of Women of the Wall, drew praise from the head of the Jewish Federations of North America.
JFNA President Jerry Silverman said the efforts of both police and Orthodox leaders contributed to a non-violent, albeit contentious morning. Last week, there were estimates that as many as 10,000 Haredi protestors could turn out.
“The police looked like they handled it very well,” Silverman told The Times of Israel. “I also give the rabbi of the Kotel [Shmuel Rabinovitch] and ultra-Orthodox leaders a lot of credit for handling it."
Earlier this month, JFNA called on Israeli and Diaspora leaders "to ensure the Western Wall remains a 'spiritual center for all Jews' ” in an official resolution supporting Natan Sharansky’s efforts for prayer access at the Kotel.
"The Last Sabbath," a play by Scott Gendell, will be performed publicly for the first time in a table reading at 4 p.m. Sunday, June 23, at North Shore Congregation Israel, 1185 Sheridan Road, Glencoe.
The story depicts the life of a fictional character, Frieda Lieberman, a pre-War Berliner, whose life is shattered by the Shoah. The story starts in Frieda’s 1977 Skokie home and revolves around the Neo-Nazis' attempted march there, and the effect it had on Frieda. The play examines Frieda’s childhood in Berlin through flashback, and her struggle to share her story with strangers and family.
Actors from the Jeff Award-winning Shattered Globe Theatre will perform the table read. Holocaust survivors Fritzie Fritzshall, President of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, and Sam Harris, President Emeritus, will join a Q&A session afterward.
The performance is free and open to the community. RSVPs appreciated. 847-835-0724.
In its largest Israeli investment yet, Google bought start-up Waze, creator of a highly popular mapping and directions app, for more than $1 billion.
NBC News highlighted the work of Dr. Rick Hodes, medical director of JUF's international partner, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, who has been helping and healing Ethiopia's needy, both Jewish and Orthodox Christian, since 1990.
On the eve of his move from Chicago to New York, Rabbi Asher Lopatin spoke with JUF's Paul Wieder about two decades of achievement and change in Lakeview's Jewish community.
The mission of JUF News Express is to provide timely information about issues and events in Israel and the wider Jewish world. JUF News Express connects members of the Chicago Jewish community to these issues and mobilizes them to take action. JUF News Express is a product of JUF's Jewish Community Relations Council and JUF News, and is published as a service to the community by the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.
Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago Ben Gurion Way • 30 S. Wells Street • Chicago, IL 60606-5056 www.juf.org | Donate to JUF
Both the Jewish United Fund and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago continue to be recognized as tax exempt organizations under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.