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Campaign to purchase the book MAUS for schools in the 19th Ward

Chicago:  Jews of Beverly (a Facebook group for Jewish neighbors), Bookie’s bookstore, and the 19th Ward Mutual Aid (whose charter is charitable and educational needs of the 19th Ward) have started a campaign to purchase books for all local schools in the 19th Ward.

There has been an uptick in hate crime in our country and city:

  • A recent report stated that 2021 was the worst year in a decade for antisemitism around the world (https://www.timesofisrael.com/2021-was-the-worst-year-in-a-decade-for-antisemitism-around-the-world-report-finds/).
  • The Hate Crime Dashboard for Chicago shows that 2021 was the worst year for hate crimes (https://home.chicagopolice.org/statistics-data/data-dashboards/hate-crime-dashboard/).
  • Last month in West Rogers Park there was synagogue, affiliated school and Jewish businesses were vandalized with swastika images and antisemitic graffiti. The Anti-Defamation League Midwest said on Twitter it was “alarmed by a string of incidents against the Jewish community in Chicago this weekend.”
  • Our ward is not immune. In March of 2019 stickers promoting a white nationalist group were found on light poles along the South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade route in Beverly and Morgan Park.

Maus, by Art Spiegelman, is a Pulitzer Prize winning graphic novel about Holocaust survivors. In January a school board in Tennessee voted to ban Maus from its eighth-grade curriculum, prompting widespread outcry. The American Library Association, citing “a dramatic uptick in book challenges and outright removal of books from libraries,” condemned “acts of censorship and intimidation.”

It is important that all children learn about the Holocaust and disturbing episodes in our shared history. An antidote to hatred, prejudice, and indifference is education and information.

We are seeking donations to provide five paperback sets of the Maus graphic novels to every middle school and high school within the 19th ward. We hope that this will be the beginning of a campaign to deliver books to our school’s libraries that honor, promote, and celebrate the diversity that makes this ward strong.