Our Pledge To You

Letters to the Editor

Joe and Tom Ricketts, our mosque welcomes your visit

The Islamic Foundation North | Google Street View.

The Islamic Foundation North | Google Street View, Sept. 2018

Last summer, Rabbi Ari and I went to a Cubs game together. When Anthony Rizzo belted a walk-off, game-winning home run, we screamed and hugged like long-lost brothers. What made the moment sweeter was that, about an hour earlier, I wanted to go home after the fifth inning to beat the traffic, since the Cubbies were down big. Rabbi Ari said, “Imam, have faith! The Cubbies are going to win this game!”

Sports brings Muslims and Jews and Christians together. The comments made by Joe Ricketts divide us.

I have bled Cubbie Blue since the 1990s. I even used to listen faithfully to the pre-game and post-game shows with Pat Hughes and Ron Santo before I got married and responsibilities kicked in. As a Muslim-American and an Imam (the Islamic word for our clergy) of our masjid (mosque) in Libertyville, I have already received and accepted your father’s apology, since my faith teaches us to forgive and give people second chances. At the same time, if you want his apology to seem sincere to the thousands of Muslim Cub fans, I suggest you come to Islamic Foundation North for a tour of the masjid and see for yourself if Muslims are naturally your “enemy,” as your father stated in the leaked emails.

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We invite you and your father Joe to tour the Islamic Foundation North in Libertyville. Please let me know a day and time that works best for both of you. Although my entire congregation would welcome both of you with open arms, if you want to make your tour private it can be with just myself, a few clergy friends and a few of our congregation’s lay leaders.

Many other Cub fans who are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and other faiths have told me that they cannot watch any Cubs game or wear any Cubs gear until they see you make the situation right with your actions. What a shame that would be for all of us.

Joe and Tom, my brothers in humanity, show us with your actions that you will make the situation right.

See you soon. Peace and blessings,

Imam Azfar Uddin, Gurnee

How CPS could get more teachers

One of the first things CPS needs to do to recruit new teachers of all races is prove that the system is solid and supportive of everyone, not just the connected individuals, higher-ups, construction companies, developers, and banks who stand to make millions in deals or get special treatment. Otherwise, it’s going to be same old, same old every year.

If CPS wants to bring in new teachers, they need to go where candidates are and give prospective teachers a reason to work for CPS. Go to the colleges and universities with lots of black students and start recruiting them as freshmen, possibly working with them to help them pay off their loans after graduating or within a few years of teaching for CPS. This assistance should extend to individuals of every race and ethnicity.

What about giving prospective teachers a $5,000 interest-free loan to move here, and forgive the loan after teaching three or four years in CPS? For those who can’t make the three or four years, set up a repayment plan that won’t bury the teaching candidate, such as $150 to $200 a month. To discourage defaults, add a provision banning them from adding the loan to a bankruptcy.

CPS could also have more leadership and pre-teaching programs at high schools to nurture prospective teachers, help these students find the right college, then offer incentives to return to teach at CPS. CPS really has to turn into Barnum & Bailey showmen when it comes to recruiting teachers. Right now, the district isn’t very attractive.

Walter Brzeski, Dunning