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The Avodah Blog

Avodah Chicago Corps Members Raise $20K for Black-Led Community Initiatives

Corps Members hold a sign at a Black Lives Matter rally. Sign reads: "Jews for Black Lives."
Avodah Corps Members at a Black Lives Matter rally in Chicago, led by Avodah partner organization, Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA). Photo by JCUA.

 

Avodah Corps Members spend a year deeply immersed in the most pressing social justice issues of our time. So when powerful protests erupted across the nation in response to the murders of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Brionna Taylor, and countless others, the 15 members of the Chicago bayit knew they had to take action.

“We are a community of 15 young white Jews, who recognize the urgency of this time and the deep inequities in Chicago and across the United States. Amidst all of the anger, chaos, and fear, we see the potential for deep, systemic change,” they said.

Together, they formed the Chicago Solidarity Coop, a community-driven fund to support Chicago’s Black-led grassroots organizations and initiatives. Within a few short weeks, the fund raised a whopping $20,000 for four critical issue areas: repairing black-owned businesses, assisting Black-led grassroots community efforts, buying food and medical supplies for Black communities, and contributing to bail funds and legal advocacy efforts. 

During their service year, Avodah Corps Members deeply engage in the social justice ecosystem, serving as paralegals, case managers, organizers, social service providers, and community advocates, building relationships with communities across the city.

Avodah Corps Member Kira Felsenfeld, who is serving as a tenant organizer at the Jane Addams Senior Caucus, said the cohort has been overwhelmed by the support they’ve received.

“This moment is going to be written in history books. How do we want to be a part of this moment?” she asked.

So far, the Chicago Solidarity Coop has distributed food, hygiene products, and medical supplies to Healthy Hood, Street Youth Rise UP!, and jail support in Cook County. The coop is also donating to Assata’s Daughters, the Chicago Community Bond Fund, and Brave Space Alliance, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Chicago Alliance Against Political Repression, and more.

Meanwhile, the fund has made an impact beyond its direct recipients. The initiative has pushed the Gen Z participants to hold tough intergenerational discussions with family and friends about race and privilege. And, now that the fund has reached its $20,000 goal, the cohort will shift its efforts toward anti-racism education, specifically encouraging family members and friends to make recurring donations to black-led groups in their communities.

The Chicago Solidarity Fund also inspired Avodah’s DC Corps Members to take on their own local fundraising initiative. The DC cohort has raised over $1,300 for Black and Trans-led organizations across the DMV area and they hope to raise $10,000. You can help support the DC fundraiser here.

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