Sunday, September 18, 2011

Oak Park Pride

Our idyllic inner suburb boasts more than good schools, a beautiful library and sky-high taxes; Oak Park is also home to a lot of really interesting people. Oak Park Temple's Friday night services included a talk by temple member David Ansell, physician and author of the acclaimed County: Life, Death and Politics at Chicago's Public Hospital. He spoke about how lack of access to quality health care has created a 20 year life expectancy gap in Chicago and urged us to advocate for single payer health care.

The very next night we headed to the Lake Theatre to see The Interrupters, a documentary about Cease Fire, a highly-effective organization that sends street-smart ex-felons into rough neighborhoods to diffuse violence. The filmmakers, Steve James and Alex Kotlowitz, are also locals and the same guys behind Hoop Dreams and There Are No Children Here. It's been honored at multiple film festivals and for good reason. It's an incredibly powerful, moving documentary. After the screening, James, Kotlowitz, a leader of Cease Fire and one of the film's subjects appeared for a 30 minute audience Q&A.

But there's more to come. Another Oak Park Temple member, David Sokol, has written a book called Oak Park: The Evolution of a Village and our friend Kevin Schultz wrote Tri-Faith America: How Catholics and Jews Held Post-War America to Its Protestant Promise. Both of them will be making appearances at our synagogue in the near future.

And it wasn't just authors and filmmakers making our hometown an interesting destination this weekend. Happenings around town included Oaktoberfest, a Pagan Pride Festival, a party in Barrie Park and an arts festival along Harrison Street.