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Or Tzedek Summer Programs 2015

Registration for this unforgettable program is open now

Change Your World

Summer 2014 was a great success, with our group of teens deeply involved with social justice. Now we're planning our schedule and programming for the summer of 2015. Updates will be posted here soon.

Meanwhile, I hope you'll follow us on Facebook.

For more information about Or Tzedek, please contact:

Deborah Goldberg | deborah@jcua.org
Coordinator of Teen Programs
Jewish Council on Urban Affairs
312.663.0960 ext. 124


"Because of Or Tzedek I have so much knowledge about social justice issues and how to combat them. I have the resources and skills to look deeper into an issue and become an activist to fight an injustice."

--Meirav Malter

"One thing I'll take with me that I learned on Or Tzedek is to love what you do and put your whole self into your passion. Or Tzedek has given me the tools to understand complex and troubling topics and be driven to address these issues. But more broadly, it has helped me become a more compassionate and thoughtful person."

--Emily Isaacson


Immigration • Racism • Education Justice • Environmental Racism • Food Justice • Poverty • Segregation • Systems of Oppression • Civic Engagement • Interfaith Community Building • Gun Violence • Worker Rights

Summer Programs

A 10-Day Overnight Urban Immersion Program -- Offered Twice

  • SESSION 1: Thursday, June 18 through Sunday, June 28

  • SESSION 2: Thursday, July 30 through Sunday, Aug. 9



Why Or Tzedek?


Experience how a grassroots organization functions, the challenges it faces, how its members battle for justice and equality. You'll meet with other grassroots organizations and young people who are active leaders in their communities.


Effect systemic change by understanding the ins and outs of the political/legislative process that leads to our system of city ordinances and state laws. Meet with activists on the front line of social justice advocacy and share your views one-on-one with local, state and federal political leaders.


Explore communities all around Chicago, learning about the challenges they face, the actions they are taking for change, and much more! You will participate in volunteer service projects, as well as gain the leadership skills necessary to bring about social change. That means, for example, cleaning-up a community park while also learning how to launch a successful campaign advocating for more green space in low-income communities.

What's Jewish about this program?

Inspired by Hillel's question, "If not now, when?" Or Tzedek provides teens with a Jewish framework to explore their social justice identities and gives them the tools to build a better world.

Or Tzedek seeks to ensure that when our Jewish teens ask the age-old question, "Who am I?" that "I am a Jew" resounds loudly somewhere in the answer.

Teens will participate in workshops facilitated by prominent Jewish educators and leaders. Or Tzedek provides a deeper exploration of social justice issues with a profound connection to Jewish identity and community.

Who Should Attend?

Jewish high school students (participants much have completed Grade 9).

First-time participants and returning Or Tzedek teens both will find opportunities to learn and grow through programming specifically created for both the "beginning" and more experienced advocate.

Commitment to Inclusivity

At Or Tzedek, we are committed to creating an inclusive Jewish community that celebrates both the similarities and differences of people's practices and identities. Therefore, Or Tzedek is a shabbat observant and kosher program and we strive to create a supportive safe environment for LGTBQIA teens.

Shabbat Observance and Keeping Kosher

Teens are given the environment and support for a day of relaxation and rejuvenation through observance of the Sabbath. We are Shabbat observant in public spaces and it is up to the teens how they wish to observe the Sabbath in private. All meals given to the teens are kosher and the teens have access to kosher kitchens. The dietary rules in place at Or Tzedek also guarantee that teens with certain food allergies stay safe. Inclusivity is at the heart of why Or Tzedek is a Shabbat and kosher observant program. This is about creating a space where any person, regardless of their observance or practice of Judaism, can participate in Or Tzedek.

LGBTQIA Safe Space

The Jewish Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer, Intersex, Asexual teen community can find a welcoming and safe environment at Or Tzedek. Staff at Or Tzedek are trained and familiar with creating thoughtful and thoroughly respectful environments for our teens who identify within the LGBTQIA spectrum. Before the start of the program, we would love to meet with any families and teens to ensure we are building a supportive community for you to express your gender and sexual identities.

Is this fun?

The program takes full-advantage of Chicago-in-the-summer, including Millennium Park, the lakefront beaches and exciting neighborhood events. You'll experience Chicago with like-minded people who likely will become life-long friends.

Tuition and Arrangements

  • Tuition: $1,000 for each participant
  • $200 non-refundable deposit (remainder must be paid in full one month before session)
  • Financial aid available on a rolling basis (download the scholarship application)
  • Overnight housing and kosher meals are included in the tuition


Throughout the session we will traveling all around Chicago to work with a broad range of community organizations and social justice leaders, activists and youth on the forefront of creating social justice in Chicago. Transportation will primarily include passenger vans. On occasion we will use public transit and walking when possible and appropriate.


The location of summer 2015 housing will be announced soon!  

We are currently evaluating several possible housing options to ensure that our participants have the best experience possible. In the past, participants have been housed at Hostelling International (24 E. Congress Pkwy., Chicago, IL 60605) and University of Illinois at Chicago dorms (1200 W. Harrison St., Chicago, IL 60607). Both locations have provided great spaces for our summer programs.

We choose locations that are safe and accessible to exciting areas of Chicago, have meeting spaces and kitchens where we can prepare some of our meals. Or Tzedek staff and counselors are always housed on the same floor/wing as Or Tzedek participants. 


Session 1

  • Registration closes Monday, May 18
  • Full payment due: Friday, June 12

Session 2

  • Registration closes Monday, June 29
  • Full payment due: Friday, July 24




Questions? Please contact:

Deborah Goldberg (deborah@jcua.org)
Coordinator of Teen Programs
312.663.0960 ext. 124

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