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Or Tzedek is for You: Reflections on Or Tzedek 2016

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By Abby Tzinberg 

Or Tzedek 2017

Or Tzedek: Jewish Teen Institute for Social Justice is a unique, Chicago-based program that provides opportunities for teens from across the country to learn about and take action on current social justice campaigns. Or Tzedek gives teens a Jewish framework to explore their social justice identities and gives them the tools and inspiration to build a better world.

As someone who has had her fair share of experiences with programs targeted at Jewish teens I can confidently say that Or Tzedek was one of the most meaningful experiences that I’ve ever had--Jewish or not. Or Tzedek is unique in that it combines politics, identity, activism, independence, community organizing, urban exploration, group living and Judaism all in one. It is open to all Jewish denominations and attracts a wide variety of Jewish experiences. This gives an added layer of sophistication and wisdom to all program activities and conversations.

The itinerary for Or Tzedek caters to all interests - whether your thing is direct service or community organizing, Or Tzedek has it all. This past summer we did a ton: registering people to vote, handing out lunches to those in need, tours through the city, workshops on identity and privilege, picnicking in Millennium Park.

Another really fantastic thing about Or Tzedek is the Kehillah, or community. You really get a chance to get to know everyone, and the program is designed to build one community, not split off into small groups. Even if you don’t know anyone going in everyone is extremely welcoming. If I had to choose one thing that I took away from Or Tzedek it would be the people.

The staff are some of the loveliest people you will ever meet. They have so much love, empathy, grit and integrity, and it shows. The group of teens that Or Tzedek attracts cannot be replicated anywhere else. Every single person has a shared goal: to be kind, smart and respectful. I challenge you to find a group of people anywhere else that can provide the same support and kindness that the people in Or Tzedek have.

So to anyone considering signing up for Or Tzedek: Do it. Whether you’re a seasoned social justice warrior or just getting started Or Tzedek is for you. No matter how prevalent your Jewish identity is in your life, Or Tzedek is for you. If you’re looking for an awesome group of people Or Tzedek is for you. If you love the city and urban living Or Tzedek is for you. If you just want something productive to do with your summer Or Tzedek is for you.

Curious if Or Tzedek is right for your summer 2017? Check out the website to learn more and book your spot today!