Who We Are
EZRA’s services strive to prevent homelessness, alleviate hunger, reduce isolation, and mitigate other self-sufficiency barriers. In addition, EZRA offers social activities and holiday celebrations to ensure that Jews who live in poverty remain actively connected to their heritage. EZRA is funded through the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago and is administered by JCC Chicago.
The Dina and Eli Field EZRA Multi-Service Center is dedicated to Tikkun Olam, or "repairing the world," and helping our community members live with dignity through advocacy and compassionate, collaborative care for those experiencing a crisis or isolation.
As long as there is hardship and loneliness in our community, our doors will be open to help those in need.
Our Core Values
Responsive: We meet the ongoing and emerging needs of our clients and community members through resourceful, thoughtful and innovative services.
Collaborative: We seek and invest in valuable partnerships that create opportunities to support the lives of our clients.
Welcoming: We create a community characterized by warmth, empathy, dignity, and respect, with appreciation for all who come through our doors.
Compassionate: We are caring, present, and conscientious with clients so that they may feel supported in their self-determination.
The Dina and Eli Field EZRA Multi-Service Center was founded in 1983 by the Jewish Federation to meet the needs of the economically disadvantaged through a 24/7, toll-free hotline. Volunteers provided information, advocacy, service referrals, and linkage services to callers. As the need for services grew, the agency moved into a storefront in 1984 with the Council for Jewish Elderly at 4613 N. Sheridan. Together, these organizations provided services for the elderly and to residents who came from the former Soviet Union in the Edgewater, Uptown, and Lakeview neighborhoods.
During the late 1980's and early 1990's, EZRA's services grew rapidly. The agency added free religious programming for the Jewish community, job training services, intensive case management, and a food pantry. In response to an increased need for food among Jews living in poverty, JUF and EZRA opened Chicago's first kosher meal program, the JUF Uptown Café, at 4000 Sheridan Rd in 1998.
In 2001, with a generous gift from Eli and Dina Field, Federation purchased EZRA's current home at 909 W. Wilson Ave in Uptown. Throughout the 2000's, other programs were added to the center, including the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) and the Healthy Advantage Program. The need for healthcare and health education resulted in an ongoing partnership between EZRA and Weiss Memorial Hospital – the hospital provides collaborative programming including health fairs and screening clinics, and clients are referred to the hospital for additional healthcare assistance. Most recently, EZRA has developed its food advocacy efforts by creating a community garden for clients to grow their own food and partnering with the Greater Chicago Food Depository to expand the EZRA Food Pantry.
Over the years, EZRA's services have been based on the changing needs of the community it serves.