This past Sunday at the 40th anniversary celebration of the Chicago Jewish Historical Society, West Rogers Park was front and center on the agenda. A standing-room-only crowd came to mark the milestone occasion and to watch a preview of the new documentary Driving West Rogers Park: Chicago’s Once and Future Jewish Neighborhood, produced and directed by my wife and fellow JCCWRP volunteer Beverly Siegel.
Defying the pattern of great Jewish neighborhoods of Chicago’s past, West Rogers Park, now in its ninth decade, continues to thrive. Today there are more synagogues, Jewish agencies and organizations in our community than ever before. And the Jewish population is growing.
We are fortunate that the Jewish population of WRP is committed to the future in the neighborhood, improving their homes and growing our impressive roster of communal institutions. But to ensure our investment, the community needs more.
JCCWRP enables us to make a broader impact. Through JCCWRP we join together to advocate for public spaces that are up to the personal standards we all aspire to for ourselves and our families.
Our role has been to identify feasible projects, get the ball rolling, and build coalitions of the willing.
In the public sector, getting to the finish line requires political leadership. It has been through partnership with Alderman Debra Silverstein, and, thanks to her, with many other elected and appointed officials, that we have been able to achieve so many of our goals.
Watching the film on Sunday with so many others made me feel proud of what we have been able to do together. It also gave me encouragement to address further needs:
To support Alderman Silverstein, as she articulated in the film, in a concerted effort to market Devon Avenue upon completion of the Streetscape upgrade.
To do what we can to advance improvements on Touhy Avenue.
To reach out to our neighbors in Peterson Park and Lincolnwood to identify additional challenges.
Yes, Sunday was a day to celebrate. And now is the time to move on.
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