When my wife and fellow board member Beverly Siegel volunteered to make a documentary film about the past, present and future of Jewish West Rogers Park, it was in large measure with the goal of building recognition for the important work of our organization. In addition to telling the little-known story of the rise, decline and resurgence of the Jewish community here, she hoped to create a tool that we could use to expand our constituency of advocates willing to join with us to achieve further improvements in the neighborhood.
We’re making progress.
As a result of the premiere of the film last December at the 40th anniversary event of the Chicago Jewish Historical Society, followed by a subsequent well-attended showing at Congregation KINS, an invitational screening at a private home in West Rogers Park, and other programs at local Jewish agencies, our reach has grown considerably. New people continue to be drawn to our work and engaged in our vision.
For those who have not yet seen the entertaining and informative 25-minute film, here are two upcoming opportunities:
Thursday, October 4, 6:30 p.m., at the Northtown Branch, Chicago Public Library, 6435 N. California Ave.
Thursday, November 8, 7 p.m. at Anshe Emet Synagogue, 3751 N. Broadway.
In addition, on Wednesday, October 10, another invitational screening will take place in a private home in the neighborhood. Please let us know if you would be interested in hosting such a program for your friends and neighbors! We are happy to assist.
Finally, a screening of“Driving West Rogers Park: Chicago’s Once and Future Jewish Neighborhood,” followed by discussion, is scheduled to take place on November 1 at the Pittsburgh Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill.
You are probably wondering, “Why?”
Beverly and I live in both Chicago and Pittsburgh, and our Pittsburgh friends are anxious to see the film and find out what we are up to as volunteers in Chicago.
But our objective goes further. Pittsburgh’s central city-based Jewish community of Squirrel Hill doesn’t suffer from the rundown appearances that we’ve experienced in WRP and beyond. In fact, its bustling commercial streets would be a dream come true and maybe even a vision of past glory for those of us who grew up in West Rogers Park: thriving businesses with nearly full occupancy.
At the same time, complacency rules in Squirrel Hill, and complacency is never good. The best time to act is when things are going well, not after things take a turn for the worse.
I hope that showing Driving West Rogers Park: Chicago’s Once and Future Jewish Neighborhoodin Squirrel Hill, will serve as a spur to community-building efforts there, fueling projects designed to keep the Jewish community strong there for future generations.
While the particulars in our two cities differ, the overarching goal is the same: strengthening and preserving our Jewish neighborhoods.
Getting back to the Chicago, Lincolnwood, Skokie Jewish communities, do let us know if you are interested in hosting a neighborhood viewing or if you have additional suggestions for community-wide programs using the film.
Through unified action we can take our accomplishments to date to the next level!