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Adult Education

There are many ways to learn at BWC – We offer Yiddish classes, adult education courses (listed below), as well as learning opportunities from our social justice committees.

Adult Education Courses

Our adult education courses are geared toward exploring the meaning of Jewish history, ritual, and thought from a secular perspective. Together, we grapple with questions of historical experience, values, and identity that challenge our thinking. Our courses usually run between 3-6 sessions and the cost of high-quality teachers is covered by class tuition, a sliding scale.

A foundation of Jewish and progressive literacy keeps our community strong. Come learn with us! (see the courses listed below)

Adult Ed Yiddish Culture and Jewish Labor Movement (1)
$70-110 $90-130
All BWC events are sliding scale;
nobody will be turned away for lack of funds.
Email info@circleboston.org with questions.

PLEASE NOTE: The class is full at this time.  To be added to the waitlist, please email info@circleboston.org

Yiddish Culture and The Jewish Labor Movement: 1880s-1960s

fall 2023
4 sessions | October 23, 30, November 6, 13
mondays 6:00-7:30 PM ET | ONLINE

In this course we will explore the history of Jewish labor activism in the United States and its relationship to Yiddish culture. We will engage questions such as: How did Jewish Socialists and Communists relate to their Jewish identity? How did they think about Americanization and assimilation? What role did Yiddish culture play in Socialist and Communist organizing? How did Jewish identity and Yiddish culture interact with broader efforts toward anti-racism and multiculturalism? And how does this history help us navigate the present of Jewish and Anti-Racist organizing work? Beginning with the early Jewish labor movement in the 1880s and ending with New Left activism of the 1960s, this four session course will take us through the salient turning points of Jewish labor history in the United States and how Jews navigated these pressing questions of identity, community, and social justice at different historical moments.

Course sessions:

  • Session #1: 1880s-1905 - Yiddish culture and its place in the Socialist movement
  • Session #2: 1905-1920 - “Linke versus rekhte”: the changing dynamics of the Jewish left in the wake of the Russian Revolution
  • Session #3: 1920s-1930s - Anti-racist organizing on the Jewish Left and the issue of “white chauvinism”
  • Session #4: Session 4: 1940s-1960s - Generational change and the challenge of Americanization

All sessions will be recorded and made available to registrants. The course is conducted in English; no Yiddish language skills are necessary.

Course Instructor

Dylan

Dylan Kaufman-Obstler, PhD

Dylan Kaufman-Obstler, PhD, is thrilled to return to the Boston Worker’s Circle this fall. Her interest in American Jewish History and Yiddish culture began when Dylan was the staff organizer for BWC in 2013-2014. Since her time at BWC, Dylan pursued a Master’s and PhD in History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied the history of Jewish Left in the United States. Her dissertation, “Language for a Revolution: Yiddish Schools in the United States and the Making of Jewish Proletarian Culture,” examined the Yiddish Communist School network in the United States and the evolving dynamic between Yiddish culture, American Jewish identity, and Marxist internationalism.

Today, Dylan lives in the Eastern Sierra of California, where she teaches U.S. History and Government at Cerro Coso Community College as well as serves as an Adult Education teacher for the Inyo County Office of Education. Dylan looks forward to seeing old and new faces at BWC and engaging in a course that touches something personal in all of us regarding Jewish history, activism, and identity.
MWP-1 (1)

Circle Book Group

The Circle Book Group meets monthly (except during July & August) at BWC on Sunday mornings to discuss fiction and nonfiction books by Jewish authors and/or with Jewish themes. This is an open group that welcomes all readers interested in expanding their understanding of the wide variety of Jewish experiences throughout history and across the world. Previously discussed books are listed below. Book selections are chosen by participates at least one month in advance of meetings. Ideally there are 8 or more Minuteman Library Network copies available.

To be added to Book Group email list and for more information, contact bookgroup@circleboston.org.

NEXT MEETING:

Date: Sunday, March 3, 10:15 am

Location: Hybrid

Book: Playing With Myself by Randy Rainbow

An intimate and light-hearted memoir by viral sensation and three-time Emmy-nominated musical comedian Randy Rainbow that takes readers through his life—the highs, the lows, the lipstick, the pink glasses, and the show tunes.

Randy Rainbow, the man who conquered the Internet with a stylish pair of pink glasses, an inexhaustible knowledge of Broadway musicals, and the most gimlet-eyed view of American politics this side of Mark Twain finally tells all in Playing with Myself, a memoir sure to cause more than a few readers to begin singing one of his greatest hits like “A Spoonful of Clorox” or “Cover Your Freakin’ Face.”

As Randy has said, “There’s so much fake news out there about me. I can’t wait to set the record straight and finally give people a peek behind the green screen.” And set the record straight he does. Playing with Myself is a first-hand account of the journey that led Randy Rainbow from his childhood as the over-imaginative, often misunderstood little boy who carried a purse in the second grade to his first job on Broadway as the host at Hooters and on to the creation of his trademark comedy character. In chapters titled “Pajama Bottoms” (a look back at the days when he wore pajama bottoms on his head to pretend he was Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz), “Yes, It’s My Real Name, Shut Up!” (no explanation necessary...) and “Pink Glasses” (a rose-colored homage to his favorite accessory), Playing with Myself is a memoir that answers the question “Can an introverted musical theatre nerd with a MacBook and a dream save the world, one show tune at a time?”

Desperate to understand their relationship, Gabriela pieces together the stories of her family's previous generations—from Great-Grandmother Mercada the renowned healer, to Grandma Rosa who cleaned houses for the English, to Luna who had the nicest legs in Jerusalem. But as she uncovers shocking secrets, forbidden romances, and the family curse that links the women together, Gabriela must face a past and present far more complex than she ever imagined.

Set against the Golden Age of Hollywood, the dark days of World War II, and the swinging '70s, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem follows generations of unforgettable women as they forge their own paths through times of dramatic change. With great humor and heart, Sarit Yishai-Levi has given us a powerful story of love and forgiveness—and the unexpected and enchanting places we find each.

Finalist for the Book Club category of the 2016 National Jewish Book Awards.

9781250276254

Circle Book Group Calendar

Past Circle Book Group reading selections have included:

An Improvised Life: A Memoir by Alan Arkin

The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler's Ghettos by Judy Batalion

East West Street by Philippe Sands

Smahtguy: The Life and Times of Barney Frank by Eric Orner

The Convert by Stefan Hertmans

I Was Better Last Night by Harvey Fierstein

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

Becoming Eve: My journey from ultra-orthodox rabbi to transgender woman by Abby Stein

More than I Love My Life by David Grossman

People Love Dead Jews by Dara Horn

Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland

Can We Talk About Israel? by Daniel Sokatch

Journey to the End of the Millennium by A.B. Yehoshua

Concealed by Esther Amini

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart

Ghetto Brother: Warrior to Peacemaker by Julian Volaj & Claudia Ahlering

Second Person Singular by Sayed Kashua

The Last Kings of Shanghai by Jonathan Kaufman

Apeirogon by Colum McCann

1947: Where Now Begins by Elisabeth Asbrink

The Hilltop by Assaf Gavron

Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots  by Deborah Feldman

The Tunnel by A.B. Yehoshua

Insomniac City: New York, Oliver Sacks, and Me by Bill Hayes

Tell Me A Riddle by Tillie Olsen

Rebel Cinderella: From Rags to Riches to Radical, the Epic Journey of Rose Pastor Stokes by Adam Hochschild

Dinner at the Center of the Earth by Nathan Englander

Learning From the Germans: Race and the Memory of Evil by Susan Neiman

Ecclesiastes

Adolofo Kaminsky: A Forger's Life by Sarah Kaminsky

The Jew Store by Stella Suberman

The Yid by Paul Goldberg

The Art of Leaving by Ayelet Tsabari

The Best Place on Earth: Stories by Ayelet Tsabari

My Promised Land by Ari Shavit

The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish

Kaddish.com by Nathan Englander

Dear Zealots: Letters from a Divided Land by Amos Oz, translated by Jessica Cohen

The Book of Daniel, a novel by E. L. Doctorow

The Death of an American Jewish Community, by Hillel Levine and Lawrence Harmon

The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman

Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean: How a Generation of Swashbuckling Jews Carved Out an Empire in the New World in Their Quest for Treasure, Religious Freedom--and Revenge by Edward Kritzler

Green by Sam Graham-Felesn

The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds by Michael Lewis

Moonglow by Michael Chabon

(((Semitism))) Being Jewish in America in the Age of Trump, by Jonathan Weisman

Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund De Wall

Born to Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All of Its Moods by Michael Wex

The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

You Say to Brick: The Life of Louis Kahn by Wendy Lesser

Here I Am, by Jonathan Safran Foer

How About Never—Is Never Good for You?: My Life in Cartoons by Bob Mankoff

Buried by the Times: The Holocaust and America's Most Important Newspaper by Laurel Leff

Those Who Save Us, by Jenna Blum

Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number by Jacobo Timerman

The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure

Great House by Nicole Krauss

The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem: A Novel by Sarit Yishai-Levi

Kantika by Elizabeth Graver

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword, Hereville: How Mirka Caught a Meteorite, and Hereville: How Mirka Got her Sword by Barry Deutsch.

The Aleppo Codex by Matti Friedman

The Spinoza Problem by Irvin D. Yalom

The Nazis Next Door: How America Became A Safe Haven for Hitler's Men by Eric Lichtblau.

Enemies: A Love Story by Isaac Bashevis Singer

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik

Tevye's Daughters by Sholem Aleichem

Frank by Barney Frank

An Officer and A Spy by Robert Harris

On the Move by Oliver Sacks

Boogaloo on 2nd Avenue: A Novel of Pastry, Guilt, and Music by Mark Kurlansky

The Family: three journeys into the heart of the twentieth century

The Jew in the lotus : a poet’s rediscovery of Jewish identity in Buddhist India by Rodger Kamenetz

Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth

Scenes From Village Life by Amos Oz

The Bookie’s Son by Andrew Goldstein

Bech, a Book by John Updike

Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson

Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me by Harvey Pekar and JT Waldman; epilogue written by Joyce Brabner; lettering by Charles Pritchett

Amerika : The Missing Person : a new translation, based on the restored text by Franz Kafka; translated and with a preface by Mark Hofmann, 2002

Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood

The Difficult Saint by Sharan Newman

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Eric Larson

The Cross and the Pear Tree: A Sephardic Journey by Victor Perera

The Sacrifice of Isaac by Noah Gordon

The Adventures of Mottel: The Cantor’s Son by Sholem Aleichem

My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq by Ariel Sabar

The End of the Jews: A Novel by Adam Mansbach

The Story of Yiddish: How a Mish-Mosh of Languages Saved the Jews by Neal Karlen

Beyond the Pale: A novel by Elana Dykewomon (also known as Nachman/Dykewomon)

The Merchant of Venice: modern version side-by-side with full original text, edited and rendered into modern English by Alan Durband

Escape to Shanghai: a Jewish Community in China by James R. Ross

The Assistant by Bernard Malamud

Scoundrel Time by Lillian Hellman

Heading South, Looking North by Ariel Dorfman

The Invisible Wall: A Love Story That Broke Barriers by Harry Bernstein

He, She and It by Marge Piercy

Loyalties: A Son’s Memoir by Carl Bernstein

Seize the Day by Saul Bellow

Foreskin’s Lament by Shalom Auslander

The Harlot by the Side of the Road by Jonathan Kirsch

Rashi’s Daughters, Book I: Joheved by Maggie Anton

The life of Glückel of Hameln, 1646-1724, written by herself / Translated from the original Yiddish

A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz

Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer

Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of The Cairo Geniza by Adina Hoffman and Peter Cole

Peony by Pearl Buck

World's Fair by E.L. Doctorow

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast

Florence Gordon by Brian Morton

The Girl from Human Street by Roger Cohen

Farthing (Small Change) by Jo Walton

The Lion Seeker by Kenneth Bonert

At Home in Exile: Why Diaspora is Good for the Jews by Alan Wolfe

Little Failure: A Memoir by Gary Shteyngart

I Married a Communist by Philip Roth

A Bisl

We also offer a series member-to-member learning series we call A Bisl.

What is A Bisl? - In Yiddish, it means “a little bit.” For Boston Workers Circle members, it means a chance to learn and share a little bit about a topic that excites you. 

In this time of isolated virtual reality, we're hearing from members that folks want places to connect. So, in collaboration with the Adult Education Committee, BWC is opening up this virtual member to member learning exchange series, A Bisl.

Past topics for A Bisl include:

Bringing Music to Our Shabes Rituals: Exploring Melodies for Our Yiddish Blessings, led by Adah Hetko and Meira Soloff

Haiku Now, led by Jeanne Martin

Like Leafless Branches Coming Back to Life: A Sukkes Willow Workshop, led by Ayelet Yonah Adelman and Liz Krushnic

Making Meaning at Home during COVID 19, led by Rosa Blumenfeld

Zing Mit Mir, Sing with Me, led by Pauli Katz

Letters That You Will Not Get: Women’s Voice from the Great War, led by Susan Werbe

Parenting Through Covid: Support for Families with Young Children, led by Sandy Sachs

Drawing 101!, led by Megan Smith

Self-Organized Learning: A Community Experience, led by Daniel Nahum

Basic Spanish Conversation, led by Susan Langus

Resisting Anti-Muslim Racism in a Pandemic, a Discussion with Fatema Ahmad, ED of Muslim Justice League

Klezmer Spiel: Learn a Tune!, led by Uri Schreter

Simon Dzigan: a Yiddish Comedian in WWII Soviet Union, led by Miriam Isaacs

Pronouns 101 and Practice, led by Sam Slate

Reparations 101, led by Nakhie Faynshteyn and Lynne Layton

Queer Futures Workshop, led by Jacey Eve

Feeling inspired? Click here to lead your own session.

Questions about A Bisl? Email zohar@circleboston.org.

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