Friends and Neighbors:
It was an honor to represent the Jewish Community Council of West Rogers Park at the White House annual Chanukah reception. My wife, Elisheva, and I received a call and invitation with just days advance notice and made quick arrangements to travel to Washington DC.
The special guest at this year’s reception was Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin. This 15-minute video of President Obama, President Rivlin, and the candle-lighting ceremony captures some of the excitement (although the Maccabeats performance was not included).
I also attended the Jewish Community Policy Briefing on a variety of topics with representatives from the State Department and National Security Council earlier in the day.
During my brief interaction with President and First Lady Obama, we discussed West Rogers Park and he shared fond memories of our neighborhood and encouraged our leaders to “keep up the good work”. Joined at the White House by Rabbi Leonard Matanky, our neighborhood was well represented!
Jewish Community Council of West Rogers Park
His Excellency Arun Kumar Singh, India’s ambassador to the United States, addressed a special joint meeting of JUF and the American Jewish Committee on Thursday.
Singh, who previously served as his nation’s ambassador to Israel, spoke about the long history of Jewish life in India and his experience engaging with Israelis of Indian origin.
“They would tell me Israel is my fatherland and India is my motherland,” Singh said.
Echoing remarks earlier in the meeting by Israeli Consul General to the Midwest Roey Gilad, Singh discussed the growing bilateral trade between Israel and India in high-tech, agriculture and defense, which will reach $4.5 billion this year. Of particular importance to India’s development are 28 agricultural centers using Israeli technology that have been established in nine Indian states.
Both diplomats also mentioned the importance of tourism between the countries, which helps deepen people-to-people connections. One indication of the burgeoning bilateral relations is President Pranab Mukherjee’s plan to visit Israel in the near future.
On a local level, the Jewish Community Council of West Rogers Park, whose leaders attended the meeting, has launched a project with the neighborhood’s Indian community and others to advance community business initiatives, while JUFis organizing a mission to India in November.
Please see the petition that came out of coordination between the West Rogers Park Community Organization, West Ridge Chamber of Commerce, the North Boundary Home Owners League, the Rogers Park Business Alliance, and the Jewish Community Council of West Rogers Park.
More people are signing up to be a part of LEARN- Library Enhancement and Renovation of Northtown – the name for the coalition that came out of these efforts. Add your voice!
We, the undersigned, agree that there is a great and pressing need for a new, state-of-the-art library in West Rogers Park. We respectfully request a new facility for the Chicago Public Library Northtown Branch to better serve the area’s richly diverse community.
This week was the first hearing in court regarding the vacant storefronts on Devon Avenue that were formerly home to Rosenblum’s Book Store. We have raised concerns about this property, including the tattered awnings, filthy windows, horrible upkeep and a lack of any response to inquires about renting the property. We appreciate Alderman Debra Silverstein’s role in asking the Building Department to inspect the properties and bring the owners to court. Our real estate committee played an active role in encouraging neighboring residents and business owners to attend the court case and make sure that the judge sees the community involvement on this issue. While the case has been continued, we look forward to the next hearing in early September. We will let you know the exact time and place in order that you might attend.
Friends and Colleagues:
Sharing the facts is changing the perception about West Rogers Park. Our community is growing. Synagogues have an increasing membership of young families, millions of dollars are being invested in new and existing neighborhood institutions and government resources are now being directed to improve our streets. On a recent visit at a community function, I only recognized a handful of familiar faces which indicates positive growth and development!
One of our priorities has been raising awareness about the hidden gems of West Rogers Park. Our Alderman, Debra Silverstein, has referred to Devon Avenue as “a diamond in the rough” and we agree. The way to influence perception is to engage in a public relations campaign and we are very fortunate to have the volunteer services of Beverly Siegel who has gotten us considerable visibility. Our work (and more importantly, our neighborhood) has been featured in news articles in:
1. Chicago Tribune
2. JUF News
3. Chicago Jewish News
Most recently, we were included in a story about Devon Avenue in the AmericanWay magazine which is distributed on every American Airlines flight domestically and internationally. This exposure is a great way to showcase local businesses and raise awareness about advocacy. A number of friends traveling to Chicago have commented positively after reading the article. That article is posted here: http://www.gowrp.org/blog/
I encourage you to visit our website, www.GoWRP.org, and share that link with your colleagues and neighbors. Recent news articles and blog updates on our progress are regularly posted. We also have links to our active social media pages. There is no substitute for positive word of mouth!