An Embarrassment of
Community Riches

This past week here Boston Workmen’s Circle offered a wide variety programs that showcased the wonderful diversity of our community. Here is a list of everything that happened between November 3 and 10:

•    A Besere Velt (A Better World) chorus rehearsal
•    Day 6 of our Sunday School (Shule)
•    Yiddish classes
•    Yiddish Vinkl weekly conversation group
•    Solidarity Series: The Solidarity Economy and Mutual Aid at the Workmen's Circle
•    Hot Topics: American Jews and Middle East Peace
•    Second Friday Shabes Dinner

The chorus is one of our most public “faces,” and it brings perhaps more people into contact with Boston Workmen’s Circle than any of our other activities, through elaborate shows such as the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Commemoration as well as more intimate performances in elder facilities.

Our Sunday School (Shule) is thriving, with 95 students in grades K-7. Watch for the annual sweatshop protest, led by our 5th grade class – this year focusing on hotel workers – coming up on December 9 and the Shule/Family Chanukah party, on December 16.

If you do an Internet search for “Yiddish” and “Boston,” Boston Workmen’s Circle will always be in the top 2 or 3 results. We remain the primary place for non-college students of all ages to learn Yiddish or to engage in Yiddish conversation (and, of course, to sing in Yiddish in A Besere Velt or at a monthly Yiddish Sing). There are currently 4 levels of Yiddish being offered: beginners, advanced beginners, intermediate, and advanced reading.

The Solidarity Series this week was the second in a series of Young Adult-led, multigenerational meetings focusing on the concept of mutual aid as an organizing principle for living. This past week’s meeting discussed the idea of a Solidarity Economy as a small-scale, local alternative to capitalism or socialism, and explored how to bring one’s own life into alignment with Solidarity Economy values. Upcoming sessions will discuss cooperative housing and responsible investing.

The Mid East Working Group continues to pursue interesting and provocative programs in their Hot Topics series. This week’s meeting was the first in a two-part series looking at the limits of advocacy when it may be perceived as anti-Israel. This evening included a presentation by Barbara Lubin, founder and director of Middle East Children’s Alliance, concerning MECA’s support of children in Gaza. She discussed a particular case in which a museum in Oakland agreed to display artwork by children from Gaza that depicted their experiences in the 2008-2009 Gaza War, but withdrew their offer under pressure from some Jewish organizations in the Bay Area. The next session in January will discuss whether this sort of pressure amounts to censorship, or justifiable opposition to perceived inflammatory anti-Israel activities.

Last week also featured the second in a series of Second Friday Shabes Dinners. The Shabes gatherings use a slightly expanded but basic ritual with songs, Friday night blessings, readings, and other touches chosen by the evening’s hosts – followed by a potluck meal. As this month’s hosts, Amy Pett and Ellen Shachter added reflection questions, poems, and Woody Guthrie’s “Holy Ground.” Almost 50 people attended this wonderful evening, we hope to see you next month!

There are even more groups in our community doing interesting work, and many other activities that didn’t take place last week. We are fortunate to have an embarrassment of community riches – something for everyone, we hope – and if you don’t find what you want, we welcome you to take the lead in making it happen!