Adult Education Courses

Our adult education programming is geared toward exploring the meaning of Jewish history, ritual, and thought from a secular perspective. Courses are taught by highly qualified and stimulating guest instructors.

There are usually two courses each year, one in the fall and one in the spring. The number of sessions ranges from four to six, and tuition varies. Pre-registration is required. At least once every two years we offer a basic Jewish literacy course for new members.

Whether you are Jewish or non-Jewish, and whatever your level of Jewish knowledge, we invite you to learn, question, and challenge your thinking.

Current Courses/Workshops:

Blacks and Jews: Affinities, Departures and the Interweaving of Identities 

Taught by Kendra Yarbor

4 selected Sundays, 10:45-12:15pm, at Runkle School, 50 Druce St. Brookline

March 22, April 19*,  April 26, and May 3rd

*April 19th date will meet at the BWC Building, 1762 Beacon St, Brookline

The course will explore the relationship between Blacks and Jews and the circumstances that have led to their encounters.  Topics of discussion include the rapport both groups have historically shared as minorities with their own unique narratives of persecution and resilience, the relationship between both groups as witnessed through their encounters in neighborhood settings, and most notably, their alliance in the Civil Rights movement.  We will discuss how certain factors, such as race and class, have impacted their relationship.  Additionally, our exploration will ask us to consider the intersections of "Blackness" and "Jewishness," and the variety of identities this intersection creates.  

About Kendra:

A North Carolina native, Kendra Yarbor is a doctoral student in the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Department at Brandeis University. She holds a B.A. in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a Master of Divinity from Duke University and a Joint M.A. in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and Women's and Gender Studies from Brandeis University. Her research interests include the religious, cultural and social experiences of American Jews, the intersections of Black and Jewish identities, race and gender. She has taught courses on the history of Jews in America, as well as Jews and race.  Kendra is currently teaching a course on "Black Jews" and their religious experiences in the United States.

Tuition Rates

  • BWC Members: $80
  • Non-members: $100
  • Shule parents: $55
  • Young adults (under 35 yr old): $55

3 WAYS TO REGISTER:

►ON-LINE: Click here.

►BY CREDIT CARD: Call the Workmen's Circle office at 617.566.6281.

►BY CHECK: Mail your check, made payable to "Boston Workmen’s Circle," to 1762 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA 02445. Please be sure to include your address, phone and email.

Don't let price be a barrier- please contact Simcha to discuss options.

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The Secular Talmud

Taught by Laynie Solomon

Four sessions meeting on April 23rd and 30th from 6:00 - 7:30pm and May 10th and 17th, from 4:30 - 6:00pm at the BWC Building, 1762 Beacon St, Brookline.

**Registration deadline April 16th**.

What is the Talmud and what is its purpose? What were the rabbis who constructed and composed the Talmud trying to communicate by writing it? How can we engage with the Talmud as secular Jews? 
 
In this class we will explore these questions through encounters with some of the fascinating, subversive and seemingly bizarre stories that fill its pages. Using the recently published commentary of Dr. Ruth Calderon, the founder of a secular yeshiva in Tel Aviv, from her book A Bride for One Night: Talmudic Tales, we'll meet some of the most colorful and dynamic characters found in the rabbinic imagination.
 
Beginner and intermediate experience with Talmud welcome! Texts will be provided in original and in translation.
 
About Laynie: A graduate of Goucher College, Laynie is currently learning at Hebrew College Rabbinical School in Boston. They have spent the past several years in various full-time institutions of Jewish learning, including most recently two years at Yeshivat Hadar, an egalitarian yeshiva in New York. Laynie is passionate about building radical Jewish community and is affiliated with a variety of lefty organizations, including Jews for Racial and Economic Justice in NYC.

Tuition Rates

  • BWC Members: $80
  • Non-members: $100
  • Shule parents: $55
  • Young adults (under 35 yr old): $55

3 WAYS TO REGISTER:

►ON-LINE: Click here.

►BY CREDIT CARD: Call the Workmen's Circle office at 617.566.6281.

►BY CHECK: Mail your check, made payable to "Boston Workmen’s Circle," to 1762 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA 02445. Please be sure to include your address, phone and email.

Don't let price be a barrier- please contact Simcha to discuss options.

_____________________________________________

Ashkenazi Identity and White Jews Working Against Racism: A Conversation and Potluck

A Workshop for Young Adults Led by Ri J Turner

Sunday, April 19th from 4:30 - 7:30pm

**Registration Deadline April 12th**

White supremacy in the US and in the world at large, and Ashkenazi dominance within Jewish communities and institutions -- these are two matters of grave concern for many of us who consider ourselves to be Jewish anti-racist activists.  But how do these two dynamics intersect?  How are they analogous and how are they different?  Where does anti-Semitism fit into the picture?  What does this all have to do with Israel / Palestine?  What is the history of Ashkenazi identity and what has been its fate in the rapidly globalizing American racial system?  Is it possible to reclaim Ashkenazi identity without reinforcing Ashkenazi dominance?  And for those of us who identify as Ashkenazi and white, how do these identities act as obstacles or resources in our work to end racism?

In this workshop, we will discuss the relationship between white privilege and Ashkenazi ethnic identity, particularly in terms of how it affects our relationship to confronting racism both inside and outside of the Jewish community.  We'll work together to define terms, examine our beliefs and assumptions, and develop an analysis of the relationship between whiteness and Ashkenazi identity and how that plays out for us as activists with a variety of racial and ethnic identities. 

We will also discuss the history of Ashkenazi identity over the past couple of centuries, particularly in terms of  the development of European Jewish nationalist movements including but not limited to Zionism, emigration from Europe, and assimilation into the American racial system. 

Finally, we'll consider the ways in which American and global white supremacy, and Ashkenazi dominance within the Jewish community, are both similar and different, and how an analysis of these power dynamics can help us develop awareness and clarity about ways in which white Ashkenazi Jews can participate effectively in the movement to end racism.

Eligibility:

 This workshop will be geared towards Young Adults (primarily 20s and 30s). 

 This workshop is open to participants of all racial and ethnic identifications.  

 Participants are expected to have some background in thinking and talking about race and anti-racism (this workshop will not provide anti-racism 101; the conversation will operate from the presumptions that racism and racial privilege are real and systemic and that Jews of European descent participate in and benefit from white privilege).

 If you have any questions or concerns about any the above, please contact Ri at ri.j.turner@gmail.com.

Preparation: In advance of the workshop, please read Chapter 1 of How Jews Became White Folks and What That Says About Race in America by Karen Brodkin and excerpts from The Colors of Jews: Racial Politics and Radical Diasporism by Melanie Kaye Kantrowitz (PDFs will be provided once you register).

Please bring a potluck dish to share!
 

$15 members, $25 non-members.  Register online today!

Don't let price be a barrier- please contact Simcha to discuss options.

 

Past courses include:

  • Interpreting Jewish History
  • Exploring Jewish Identity: History and Traditions of Mizrachi, Sephardi, and Ashkenazi Cultures
  • U.S. Labor Post-WWII: From Reds Under the Bed to the War on Public Sector Workers
  • History of the Jewish Left
  • Jewish Literacy 101
  • Zionism and the Roads not Taken
  • Islam 101
  • From Religion to Nation: The Evolution of Modern Jewish Identity