Introducing Maetal Gerson, JCUA Avodah Organizer 2021-2022

Hello! My name is Maetal and I’m the Avodah Organizer for JCUA this coming year. I’m so excited to be working with college and high-school-aged individuals to help them organize around key issues and campaigns. I look forward to connecting them with opportunities to engage in direct service and action from a Jewish perspective.  This is especially important to me since I found my home in Chicago through my participation in JCUA’s college organizing fellowship as a college junior. Through the fellowship, I learned that practicing accountability to Jewish values creates space for being accountable to the larger Chicago community. In this way, Judaism engenders systemic action. I look forward to working with the youth in the JCUA community and passing on my experience and passion for social action.

While I grew up in Los Angeles, I consider my college years in Chicago to be the most formative and I call Chicago home. During college, I was heavily involved with Hillel and also in social justice groups on campus. I also have always loved working with kids and young adults, especially in Jewish education settings. In my first two years, I participated in a program geared at training college students who intended to pursue careers in education. While I chose to not pursue this career, the disparities I learned about and witnessed in the education sector caused me to search for ways in which I could contribute to systemic change. During my second year, I served as Social Justice Chair of the Student Leadership Board at Hillel where I organized days of service and connected college students to social justice resources. While I enjoyed working on individual projects, I continued to search for ways of addressing the root of various kinds of injustice. My search for this kind of work led me to JCUA.

When I first started the college organizing fellowship at JCUA, I soon realized that there was a lot more to learn about social justice than I had anticipated. However, instead of hammering into me a fixed conception of social justice, JCUA allowed me to explore my own relationship with social justice. This relationship I found in the connections I made with fellow Jews of Color within the Kol Or caucus and it was there that I found community in community organizing. I hope to encourage others this year to be able to recognize the power that can be derived from a supportive community and also take pride in their Jewish identity as a source of strength.

I am so excited to be spending this year working with this wonderful community to combat systemic oppression and to support their work in transforming the vastly unequal socio-economic landscape within Chicago.

Categories: Profiles

Maetal (she/her) became JCUA’s Field Organizer after completing a year as an Avodah Organizer. Her work focuses on engaging young Jews of Color in the organizing space and supporting the Kol Or (Jews of Color Caucus). She previously participated in the JCUA’s Organizing Fellowship during her third year of college at the University of Chicago. In the fellowship, she gained a love of community organizing and working with the Jewish community internally and externally to combat racism and oppression. Maetal enjoys working with the youth in the JCUA community and passing on her experience and passion for social justice.