Hello everyone.  This is the Recovering Immigrant/Interfaith Fool making her blogging debut.  My resolution for this year was to start a blog, and HERE IT IS!! But I think the biggest fool today is John McCain, who has blaimed the Arizona fires on “illegal aliens.”  I dunno, on Univision, I saw interviews with many Arizona Hispanos whose lives have been ruined by these fires.  THEY ARE YOUR CONSTITUENTS, SENATOR!!  hOW ABOUT A LITTLE MERCY TOWARD THEIR PLIGHT?????


Monday sundown to Tuesday sundown is Tisha b’ Av, a Jewish fast day that marks the traditional date of the destruction of both the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem (586 BCE and 70 CE respectively), as well as several other disasters that occurred on or near this date.
I was originally going to go to a service with several social justice communities at the Lorado Taft “Fountain of Time” near the University of Chicago Midway, but my recent sciatic flare-up made that impossible, do I posted the following to my faith community , so they would know how I mark Tisha b’Av every year:
Tisha b’Av, 5747
שלום משפחת צדק–
Hola to my Tzedek family; it’s Kate Kinser. As much as I would like to join you all at the Lorado Taft Fountain tonight to mark Tisha b’Av, I’ve had a sciatica flare-up (wow, will I be ready for the Jacob narrative this fall), and I don’t think I can explore the Midway or Washington Park after dark this year.
What I AM going to do on Tuesday is what I do almost every year, no matter what ever else I do to mark the fast:
I’ll drive my car down 290/ The Eisenhower Expressway and get off at Independence Boulevard (3800’West) and head south a few blocks to Douglas Boulevard, and then turn east, to visit what was the heart and soul of Chicago’s Eastern European Jewish immigrant community from 1910 up to the 1950’s:
Along the Boulevard I’ll see buildings that housed synagogues, schools, cultural organizations, the Jewish People’s Institute (a precursor to the JCC’s) and apartment buildings (some occupied; others in disrepair and abandoned) that were home for thousands of people — immigrants and children of immigrants, who spoke Yiddish as a first or second language and who shopped at the kosher butchers, bakeries and other establishments along Roosevelt Road and the side streets. Some of the synagogues are now churches, or repurposed; others are empty, Commercial establishments other than liquor stores and an occasional bodega or laundromat are scarce in today’s North Lawndale and Douglas Park. The population in the neighborhood continues to shrink, and the Chicago Board of Education closed or consolidated public schools that were often the last community institutions left standing.
The opening line of Eichah/Lamentations is apt: “How lonely sits the city that was full of people.. she is like a widow.”
Although many Jews who grew up in “the old west side” will wax poetic about walking down the boulevards on Shabbat, arguing about various varieties of socialism, zionism or non-zionism, debating the future of the Jewish people in Yiddish or “Yinglish”; living with their extended families in a three or six-flat, until the 1950’s, Jews fled Douglas Boulevard and environs as African Americans –themselves refugees escaping the institutional violence, poverty and social discrimination of the American south, as Jews had escaped the pogroms of Eastern Europe–
and left the old neighborhood and its buildings to decay. There were amoral real estate agents and politicians who scared and exploited both the Jewish residents already in the neighborhood and the newcomers moving in.
There is a Talmudic passage that blames the destruction of the Second Temple on “mindless hate.” The destruction of Douglas Park could be blamed on “mindless neglect” or “mindless greed.”
After the destruction of the Second Temple, rabbis and scholars moved away from Jerusalem –both physically and intellectually–to reframe and reformulate the religion of the people Israel from worship based on animal sacrifice and grain offerings to faith communities centered on study, public and private prayer and the performance of Mitzvot.
The poverty and social isolation we witness today along Douglas Boulevard is a call for us to undo decades of neglect and exploitation with the values and deeds that are the best of our ethical heritage.
My pledge each Tisha b’Av is to join with the efforts of communities of faith such as Jewish Council on Urban Affairs and the Old St. Pat’s North Lawndale Initiative to foster renewal and give back to a community that was home to our people and to our communal life as Jews in Chicago.
When I visit Douglas Boulevard on Tisha b’Av or on other occasions throughout the year, I remember the axiom from Pirkei Avot, “Not yours to finish the task, but neither are you free to exempt yourself from it.” –Today and always,
Amén/let it be so.

My city neighborhood (Rogers Park/Chicago) has had three nights in a row of booming fireworks ( en español, cohetes) until 2 or 3 in the morning. A much more meaningful activity on Tuesday morning would be to listen to Morning Edition  on your local NPR station for their annual recitation of The Declaration of Independence. Listen carefully for not only what was included in the Declaration, but what is missing: No abolition of slavery or denunciation or human trafficking; no equal rights for women; no ultimate economic justice for all, including universal suffrage. After 241 years@, we still have much to do. Rest up and have a great holiday. But on Wednesday we all have to get to work. 

In my next few posts I’m going to explore the inequities and inconsistencies for people of color in a neighborhood that on the surface appears a model of urban progressive values amend cultural diversity. I live in Rogers Park, one of Chicago’s most diverse neighborhoods: 1/3 #Anglo white; 1/3 #AfricanAmerican; 1/3 #Hispano. Economically, there is also a split between those who are solidly in the Middle class; those who are working but struggling and those while are truly poor. Many of us moved to Rogers Park or returned as established adults to where we spent our childhoods or college years BECAUSE of this diversity and our commitment to live and raise families in a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural community whose composition reflects the City of a Chicago as a whole.
But despite this collective aspiration, we find ourselves and our neighborhood —and really the whole north side of Chicago,–in a stranglehold of inequality where white people –and in my neighborhood WHITE MALES hold the power and the public purse strings.
Rogers Park is largely within the boundaries of Chicago’s 49th Ward: The Alderman of more than 20 years is a middle-aged white man whose progressive, independent credentials have been tarnished over time (he votes with the Mayor almost 100% of the time); the President of the Ward’s Democratic Party is also a white male passing from middle age to senior citizenship–he was a leftist political organizer as a young man and is now a part of the Alderman’s juggernaut . The Democratic Party Committeeman ( an elected position) recently died–he was also a white male, slightly younger than the other two, but very ill for several years. It is unclear who will replace him. But as I said, this is similar to much of the north side– the white power elites control the political apparatus in wards and districts where they are the distinct minority. Black and Brown political power is concentrated in parts of the city that are racially, ethnically and economically segregated –and even then, certain white Anglo men are still being elected as Aldermen (see Ed Burke) and state representatives ( see Alderman Burke’s brother Dan and Speaker of the House Michael Madigan) from areas that are overwhelmingly Hispano. What African Americans endured from the 40’s to the 70’s is now happening in the barrios. And in those Chicago wards labeled multi-ethnic, it is happening to all non- whites. Hthe dirty little secret of Chicago’s diversity is that whites are still in control.

On the day that ABC and Univision have launched their media joint venture #Fusion –aimed at #Hispanic #millenials and their amigos, it is obvious to me that we are still awash in prejudice and racism that expresses itself in outrageous statements of hatred from the righting and genteel uncomfortability on the left.
Yes Anglos will gobble up tortillas and jibaritos and paella with gusto and dance to Alston music all night long and look for clothing ANC accessories that have a “south of the border ” flair , but don’t expect them to seriously study Spanish or the politics of immigration or create school boards and parish councils that reflect the true demographic strength of the Hispanic presence in our communities. More to come on this. But consider that over 60% of the students in the LA schools are Hispanic. More than 50% of the school population in Illinois are students of color. Probably more than half of the Catholics in the three dioceses on the Chicago area are Hispanic. This is a silent majority, erased but not eliminated– and waiting patiently for there turn at the table.

I am getting ready to register children for the Religious Education program that I supervise. I work at a primarily Anglo Catholic parish, but my students are almost all #Hispanos. For the next 20 years or so, I think this will be common at schools, churches and other social institutions, especially in the Catholic church: The children who are “consumers” of education or other services will be largely Hispanic; the leadership of the institutions will be Anglo, and often Anglos who are contemptuous of the Hispanos who are the next generation of “their” church. One thing I try to share with Hispanos families and volunteers from my life in the Jewish community: This happened to eastern European Jews as well 100 years ago. The German Jewish community shunned the more recently arrived Ashkenazim who poured out of Russia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire after 1880: German Jews in the U.S. built separate hospitals and synagogues and settlement houses for the “Ost Juden,” hoping to corral them in a way that wouldn’t embarrass their hard-earned respectability in Anglo-Saxon America. But in the end, it was the Jews “from the east” who defined the American Jewish community and enriched the lives not only of other Jews, but of America as a whole. I hope and pray and know, as a social scientist, that this will also come to pass for Hispanos in the United States: They will come to transform the Catholic church and “gift” it with a spirituality of personal holiness and communal celebration that will revive a groaning institution, and a nation that needs revival and redefinition as well. In the meantime, it’s tough going for the majority of Hispanos who DON’T live in a barrio or suburb where Hispanic adults are in the majority or at least a plurality that grants them some political power. Instead they are kicking away at the box the Anglos have put them in. But ask Sam Cooke sang 50 years ago about an earlier struggle for freedom and recognition (a struggle, that is still, unfortunately, in progress) “A change gonna come.”

“Ha  Lachma Anya”

This is the phrase that is proclaimed at the Passover Seder when the leader of the seder raises a piece of matzah for the first time.  The usual translation is, “This is the bread of affliction,” or, “This is the bread of poor people.”  But it can also be translated, “This is the bread of ANSWERS.” And today, as we gather at theBroadviewDeportationCenter, we have questions, and we are looking for answers from the Obama Administration.

In the Seder ritual, the youngest person present asks four questions, that are subsequently answered during the evening.  We also have four questions today:

 Why are deportations continuing at a rate of 400,000 a year, when the vast majority of detainees are law-abiding residents, working productively, and raising families of American-born children? Y

Why are detainees continuing to be held as a prisoners, under draconian conditions, when government officials have promised that detainees will be treated as status offenders, NOT criminals? Y

WHY ARE FAMILIES STILL BEING TORN APART, impoverishing spouses and children, creating social chaos and burdening local governments and social services? Y


Four years ago, when President Obama was CANDIDATE Obama, a small group of his young Jewish staffers gathered in the basement of a hotel to share a impromptu Passover meal.  As they were about to begin, Senator Obama entered the room and asked, “Where’s the Seder?”  And he stayed to celebrate the Jewish holiday of freedom with his staff.  Since then, the Obamas have hosted a Seder at the White House each year, inviting friends, colleagues and various Jewish leaders.  THIS PRESIDENT UNDERSTANDS, as few presidents have, the meaning of the Passover Seder, and how the values embodied in the Passover holiday propel us to take up the cause of those who are enslaved, who are marginalized, who are scapegoated for being “strangers.”  On this Passover holiday, we call on our President to be a MOSES, not a PHAROAH: To care more about those who are enslaved under our present immigration policies, rather than cater to the oligarchs who  will disrespect him NO MATTER HOW MANY PEOPLE HIS ADMINSTRATION DEPORTS.   The Passover Seder traditionally ends with the words, “Next year in Jerusalem.”  Let us add: “Next year may we celebrate an end to useless deportations and  an end to America’s version of the Nuremburg laws, as we rededicate ourselves to that Biblical verse engraved on the Liberty Bell:  PROCLAIM LIBERTY THROUGHOUT THE LAND!”  CHAG SAMEACH  —May we continue to ask questions, and create the answers that lead to freedom.

Broadview Deportation Center: Friday, January 6, 2012:

          This Saturday, at synagogues around the world, we complete the reading of the Book of Genesis, and conclude the story of Joseph and his family:  Not Joseph of the “Technicolor Dreamcoat,” but also Joseph who was thrown into a pit and taken forcibly to Egypt and separated from his father; Joseph the indentured servant; Joseph who was unjustly imprisoned and who languished there for years.

          The Hebrew word for prison is “beyt tzor,” a place of narrowness:  And the beyt tzor could have killed Joseph, but what kept him alive and ultimately saved him was his DREAMS.  Because he shared his dreams, he was remembered by a fellow prisoner who told the Pharaoh of Joseph gifts, and ultimately he was freed, he rose to great power and was able to save his whole family from the famine that gripped the whole region.

          And today we stand here in front of another beyt tzor —another narrow place—here at Broadview.  And if you doubt this is a prison, I hope you saw the agents leaving while we were praying the Our Father, carrying the chains and handcuffs back to the sheriff’s van parked across the street.  And we pray for those imprisoned within this deportation center, that they will continue to dream and to re-form their lives after the trauma they have experienced, and will especially experience today.  And let us pray for ourselves, and the prison walls that surround us all:  the walls of racism, of xenophobia and fear of the immigrant; of anti-immigrant legislation; of mindless hate that diminishes us all.  Let us all HOLD FAST TO DREAMS, especially in the coming ten days, as we prepare to honor the life and message of our country’s GREATEST DREAMER: For it is in our dreams that we keep hope alive.