Introducing Our 2022 Summer Interns

Categories: Interns & Internships, Or Tzedek / Teen Program, Organizing Fellowship, Youth Programs

JCUA is excited to welcome our three summer interns to the team! Dalya Lessem Elnecave, Julia Stern, and Elie Katzman-Jacobson are all alums of JCUA’s Youth Organizing programs for teens and young adults. This summer, they’ll work on our Bring Chicago Home and Treatment Not Trauma campaigns and strengthen their organizing skills. Get to know our interns:

 

Dalya Lessem Elnecave (they/them)

How did you get involved with JCUA, and what is a powerful time with JCUA you’ve experienced?

I got involved with JCUA through the Or Tzedek Teen Internship program. I joined last fall and was able to become a part of the Youth Organizing Caucus, the Queer Youth Caucus, and JCUA’s campaigns. A powerful time with JCUA that I have experienced was the Interfaith Action at City Hall for Bring Chicago Home. Being there with so many others who care about this city and making it better for people reminded me of why I love social justice work.

What are you most looking forward to this summer?

This summer I am looking forward to planning and leading more actions for the Bring Chicago Home and Treatment Not Trauma campaigns.

What is your favorite thing about Chicago?

My favorite thing about Chicago is the incredible theater scene. There are so many amazing artists who call Chicago their home, and I feel very lucky to be able to attend a variety of thought-provoking, engaging, and entertaining theater here!

 

Julia Stern (she/her)

How did you get involved with JCUA, and what is a powerful time with JCUA you’ve experienced?

I got involved with JCUA last summer and I learned about it from my good friend Jadon Gladstein. They were a member of the Youth Organizing Caucus and they invited me to go to an Erase the Database teach-in. It was a truly amazing experience where I got to learn about the campaign and feel involved. The  Youth Organizing Caucus was such a safe environment, where I felt we could talk about real-world problems and not feel restricted. It was a great group of people and I felt like a member of the community after just one hour on Zoom.

Eventually, I signed up for Or Tzedek and I was a member for the 2021-2022 school year. A powerful time I experienced with JCUA was going to the Interfaith action with Bring Chicago Home at City Hall. It was so empowering to see people so passionate about the campaign and stand with people directly affected by homelessness in Chicagoland. I felt like the Interfaith action was really powerful and touched a lot of people, especially because the action was broadcast on television.

What are you most looking forward to this summer?

This summer, I am most looking forward to doing some youth organizing with Treatment Not Trauma and Bring Chicago Home, which includes some teach-ins and canvassing at farmer’s markets. I am also looking forward to getting to know the JCUA staff better.

What is your favorite thing about Chicago?

My favorite thing about Chicago is how diverse and unique it is. New York has Broadway and Los Angeles has television and film, but Chicago always has to bring something out of the box to keep it interesting and intriguing. I also love how Chicago has such a lively culture and there is so much to see and do here.

 

Elie Katzman-Jacobsen (she/her)

How did you get involved with JCUA, and what is a powerful time with JCUA you’ve experienced?

As a Loyola Student from Providence, Rhode Island, for the past few years I have been looking for a welcoming Jewish community that I felt reflected my values. I first found this community at the Jewish Council of Urban Affairs when I attended JCUA’s Organizing Fellowship. Throughout the fellowship, I have come to understand that not only is social justice connected to my Judaism, but it cannot be separated from my Jewish identity — they are intrinsically tied together. I am reminded of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who said, “prayer is meaningless unless it… seeks to overthrow and ruin the pyramids of callousness, hatred, opportunism, falsehoods.” 

This felt especially relevant when I attended JCUA’s Nonviolent Direct Action training this past winter, where I learned how to effectively respond to instigation and/or harassment. We studied the relationship between our body and anxiety levels, and actively practiced nonviolent responses to violence. JCUA helped me understand that not only can nonviolent direct action be the most effective form of protest, but can redefine what both violence and action can look like.

What does it feel like to be part of the JCUA community?

Through JCUA, I am able to connect Jewish values like “b’tzelem elohim,” the idea that all humans are created in the image of God, to values of nonviolent direct action, including Martin Luther King Jr. ‘s concept of agape, or a universal, redemptive love. These concepts do not translate to embracing the opponent, nor do they insist one must acknowledge a system that oppresses them. I believe, in fact, that these concepts suggest one does the opposite. They become an effective strategy that force society to confront the ways in which it neglects the value of its people. 

JCUA has further helped me understand that continuous learning is essential to a long-lasting movement, and we can learn most effectively through relationships with others. I am excited to continue learning from members and staff of the JCUA community, as well as building solidarity with other social justice groups in Chicago.