Reflections for the New Year

At our High Holiday observances each year, we invite members of the Boston Workmen's Circle community to share d'vars - reflections that connect topics of personal interest or expertise to wishes, thoughts, and calls to action for the new year. The topics range from the highly personal to the academic - often, even within the same d'var.

You can read a few excerpts of past d'vars below. The full text of these d'vars, as well as d'vars from other years, is available here.


From Janet Axelrod, 2011:

I probably don’t have to convince you that lifelong learning is a good thing. It’s one of those values, like enjoying good food, and fresh air, art, music, and the laughter of small children that you have to be a real curmudgeon to not like. Learning of all kinds is a core Jewish value, as Judaism reveres the written word and learning for its own sake. The word “Talmud” itself means instruction, or learning, after all. Rabbi Hillel is reputed to have said that he (and, one assumes, she) who refuses to learn deserves extinction. Kind of harsh, but we get his drift. Which is to say that learning of all kinds is important to Jews.

From Sam Graham-Felsen, 2006:
The high holidays are supposed to be devoted to honest self-reflection—and I think we can extend this notion of "self" to include not only our individual identities, but our identity as the Jewish people. As part of our honest self-reflection, I ask all of you to join me and contemplate what we can do as progressive Jews to engage in productive dialogue with Jews whom we ideologically oppose. What parts of their arguments, we ought to ask ourselves, have legitimacy? In what ways can we empathize with the deep and genuine emotions that define their stances?

From Gail Dines, 2005:
Growing up in middle-class Jewish England, I had always assumed that I would belong to a sisterhood, the same one as my mother and all the other Jewish women I knew. Only this sisterhood was not that powerful; instead, it labored in a temple basement, preparing wine and cookies for Kiddush after the service – a service conducted by men, about men, and ultimately for men. And when I go back to England today, I see my sister, my sister-in-laws, my friends, in fact all the Jewish women I know, still locked in that damn basement, still making those godforsaken cookies. It is as if feminism never happened and they are stuck in a time warp where we are still Leaving it to Beaver, and Father Still Knows Best. I am the first Dines woman to come out of the basement and onto the bima – the stage, and I thank the Workmen’s Circle for providing such a place.

We look forward to seeing you at our Rosh Hashana observance at 10am on September 5 (Family Service at 1:30pm), and at our Yom Kippur observance at 10am on September 14.

A Gut Yor, A Zis Yor!