Sharing Stories Across Generations

Last fall, Boston Workmen’s Circle offered several programs that explored Jewish identities and diversity. We explored Jewish identity in an adult education class by studying the history and traditions of Mizrachi, Sephardi, and Ashkenazi cultures. We pondered issues of cultural heritage.race, class, and privilege in a series of workshops for young adults, and asked ourselves, "What does Jewish look like?" And we celebrated Jewish diversity with an audience of over 700 at our Journeys in Ladino and Yiddish concert, sharing Jewish music from around the world.

We learned a great deal - and we generated new questions about our own community! The Jewish diversity workshop was geared towards young adults, while the Jewish identity class attracted more boomers. We all gather together for large holiday celebrations - the High Holidays, or the Seder - but how can people of different ages within the Boston Workmen's Circle community connect on a deeper level? We now want to explore these topics across generations, to learn about each others' perspectives, and to identify with each other in new ways.

This spring, we're making the conversation about Jewish identity more personal with Sharing Our Stories: An Oral History Project on Jewish Identities and Histories. On June 1, Etta King, Education Program Manager from the Jewish Women's Archive, will lead a workshop on how to collect oral histories across generations. We'll gather our own community's stories about Jewish identity, class, and radical activism, and learn to understand each other better through storytelling. Participants can sign up to be interviewers, to share their stories, or both. After collecting the stories, participants will distill a snapshot (audio, photography, and/or transcription) from their interviews to present at an exhibit in the fall.

You can register for the oral history project here! And check out the Jewish Women's Archive and the National Yiddish Book Center's resources for oral histories.