JUF News Express
Friday, April 20, 2012Forward this message  Forward this message

In this Issue:

• Federation, agency leaders travel to state capital

• Chicago City Council calls for Iran divestment

• Spotlight on iDays: Let the celebrating begin

• U.S. House unanimously OKs Raoul Wallenberg medal

• Jewish leaders meet with Lithuanian diplomats

• Holocaust remembered around the globe

• Bar-Ilan University hosts Chicago Summit 2012

• From JUFNews.org and around the web



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Federation, agency leaders travel to state capital

Forty-four board members and professional leaders from the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, its Government Affairs Committee and agencies (CJE Senior Life, JCFS, JVS, Keshet and Sinai Health System) participated in the annual Springfield Mission April 18-19.

They met with Senate President John Cullerton, Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno, House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie and House Republican Leader Tom Cross, as well as dozens of other legislators who serve on key committees and/or represent districts where Federation provides social services.

They also met with Department of Health and Family Services Director Julie Hamos and Director of the Department on Aging John Holton.

Meetings also were held with each member of the unofficial "Jewish Caucus." Reps. Daniel Biss, Kelly Cassidy, Sara Feigenholtz, Robyn Gabel, Lou Lang, Sidney Mathias, Karen May and Elaine Nekritz and Sens. Susan Garrett, Jeff Schoenberg and Ira Silverstein joined Mission participants for dinner at the Governor's Mansion.

Yesterday, also as part of the annual mission, Gov. Pat Quinn spoke at the statewide commemoration of Yom Hashoah at the Old State Capital. Sisters Rose Abrams and Edith Adlam brought tears to the eyes of many in the audience as they remembered their days of survival in France. Rep. Biss and Ann-Louise Kleper, of the Federation's Government Affairs Committee, spoke about the importance of remembering.

Chicago City Council calls for Iran divestment

Chicago's City Council has called on its largest public employee pension fund, the Municipal Employees' Annuity and Benefit Fund, to divest its assets from companies doing business in Iran's energy sector.

The resolution, introduced by 43rd Ward Ald. Michele Smith and co-sponsored by nearly half her colleagues and City Clerk Susana Mendoza, passed the full Council unanimously yesterday. Video of the proceedings is available at the 2:09:51 mark here.

Several aldermen spoke passionately in favor of the measure, including Smith, Joe Moore, James Balcer, and Ed Burke.

Letters supporting the move were submitted by U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk, 18 of 19 Illinois congressmen, State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, and many state legislators.

The city's action follows the Cook County Board's passage of a similar resolution, urging its own pension fund to divest. Peter M. Friedman, the Federation's Government Affairs Vice-Chair of Metropolitan Government, said "We are proud to say that it is now the official policy of both Cook County and the City of Chicago that the public employee pension investment of even one dollar in Iran's energy sector is a dollar too much."

As both measures are non-binding, the decision to implement divestment lies with the trustees of the pension funds. Federation will continue to advocate for the resolutions' implementation.

Spotlight on iDays: Let the celebrating begin

JUF's iDays/Israel Solidarity Days Celebration kicks off next Thursday, April 26, with the first of 15 special events over three weeks:

Yom Ha'atzmaut Celebration: Noon at Daley Plaza, on Washington between Dearborn and Clark

Grab your Israeli flag, don your blue and white, and join us for a Yom Ha'atzmaut party featuring Re-Vital Israel theatre dance group, one of Israel's most renowned dance companies.

YLD's Blue and White Bar Night: 7-10 pm at Joe's, 940 W. Weed St.

Featuring one hour of open bar, two drink tickets, a photo booth, Israeli junk food, a Western Wall experience, and much more. $36, which includes an $18 tax-deductible iDays gift to provide books to Israeli children. Register online

To learn more about these and other events, or to register or volunteer, visit juf.org/idays.

U.S. House unanimously OKs Raoul Wallenberg medal

The U.S. House voted unanimously to award Raoul Wallenberg the Congressional Gold Medal, according to JTA.

The vote is part of an effort to confer the honor upon Wallenberg -- credited with saving 100,000 lives during the Nazi occupation of Hungary in World War II -- in time for the 100th anniversary of his birth in August.

The Congressional Gold Medal has been conferred since the American Revolution to honor "the highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions."

JUF's D.C. office, working with its board member and United States Holocaust Memorial Council member Andrew S. Hochberg, reached out to and secured the entire Illinois congressional delegation as co-sponsors of the resolution.

Bills proposing the medals need two-thirds sponsorship before they can be considered. So far, both Illinois senators -- Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk -- are co-sponsors. There are only 23 others who have done so, well short of the 67 needed.

Jewish leaders meet with Lithuanian diplomats

Several leaders of Chicago's Jewish community met with Lithuanian diplomats April 15 to discuss relations between the two communities.   

Michael Kotzin, Senior Counselor to the President of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago; Steven Dishler, Director of International Affairs for JUF's Jewish Community Relations Council; Dan Elbaum, Director of the American Jewish Committee in Chicago; and Eugene Steingold, a Chicago-area lawyer, met with a delegation that included Lithuanian Minister of Culture Arūnas Gelūnas and that nation's Ambassador to the United States, Zygimanttas Pavilionis.

The discussion, which took place in Oak Brook during a convention of Lithuanian diplomats posted in North America, focused on ways to recognize and honor the Lithuanian Jewish heritage and promote relations between Lithuania and the American Jewish community.

All speakers endorsed the value of continuing to explore opportunities to strengthen relations and honor Lithuania's Jewish heritage.

Photo: Lithuania's Minister of Culture, Arūnas Gelūnas; Minister Plenipotentiary, Head of the Political Section, at the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania to the United States of America and to the United Mexican States, Rolandas Kacinskas; Ambassador to the United States, Zygimanttas Pavilionis

Holocaust remembered around the globe

Around the world, people marked Yom Hashoah/ Holocaust Remembrance Day, remembering the six millions Jews murdered during the Holocaust.

Israel's Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day began with a national ceremony Wednesday night at the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem, with speeches by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres. This year's theme is "My Brother's Keeper - Jewish Solidarity During the Holocaust," and the power and solemnity of the day was reflected in a dramatic poster created by an Israeli art student.

A moment of silence was taken throughout Israel on Thursday morning, marked by the sound of a siren.

In Europe, thousands of people, many of them teens, participated in the March of the Living, the annual march at the Auschwitz death camp in Germany to commemorate the lives lost there. This year's march included U.S. veterans who helped liberate the concentration camps, according to Haaretz.

In Illinois, more than 80 people attended the 31st annual State of Illinois Holocaust Memorial Observance, cosponsored by JUF, which took place Thursday at the Old State Capitol in Springfield. Gov. Pat Quinn keynoted.

In Skokie, Sheerit Hapleitah's 67th Annual Holocaust Memorial Service, the Midwest's largest gathering of survivors, will be held at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, April 29, at Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob Synagogue, 8825 East Prairie Road. JUF cosponsors.

JTA reports that President Obama will commemorate the Holocaust at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington on April 23.

Read statements from the president and the Illinois delegation regarding Holocaust remembrance

Bar-Ilan University hosts Chicago Summit 2012

Just days before the NATO summit in Chicago, Israel's Bar-Ilan University School of Communication will host its own six-day summit here, entitled "Today's Middle East: Challenges, Leadership, Communication."

The May 1-6 summit features a wide range of speakers, panels and presentations at venues throughout the city and suburbs. Speakers include Bar-Ilan Deputy President Yaffa Zilbershats; Director of the School of Communication Eytan Gilboa; and professors from several universities. View the full calendar of events

Advance reservations are required for some events, and the public is encouraged to contact individual venues to reserve a seat.

For more information, visit Bar-Ilan University's website.

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