Report Back: Notes from Our Annual Meeting

Boston Workmen's Circle Annual Meeting 6.17.15

Break Out Group Notes: Creating an Inclusive, Inter-generational Community

What challenges have we faced creating an inclusive, Inter-generational community?

  • Hard to make connections if you aren't on a committee. The building makes it hard and there aren't enough big events or activities that are focused on socializing rather than working.
  • Committees that talk about WHY we do the work that we do feel welcoming. Committee meetings that only focus on delegating tasks don't feel as inviting. 
  • Need time to connect, schmooze, and build relationships
  • Shabbat is good chance to do this, but Fridays are hard to come to

What concrete steps would you like to see the BWC community take in the coming year?

  • Helpful to take time in committees to collectively decide goals of that work and have shared ownership.
  • We need to better understand the age demographics of our membership.
  • Greeters! Members, not just board members, should take responsibility to greet new people.
  • Ask for help. Ask if people will be designated greeters, some training for all membership on doing this would help.
  • Buddy system. Reach out in an authentic way to people who start coming to things.
  • Yiddish committee purposely has co-chairs of different ages and levels of experience. This worked! Use this as a model for all committees.
  • Intergenerational buddies. See who’s interested in pairing with someone from another age group.
  • Host a conversation on age/ageism/how we interact across age.
  • More opportunities to create, work with your hands together.
  • Encourage across organization to not just talk to the people who you know, but to get out of your comfort zone.
  • Have some events geographically, gathering with folks from your neighborhood

Break Out Group Notes: Racial Justice Internal

Why is this work important to us?

  • Our collective Jewish legacy and Workmen’s Circle legacy specifically of working for civil rights & racial justice
  • Our personal connections and commitment to the issue
  • The story of our own ancestors who faced severe persecution as other immigrant communities continue to face today
  • Racism is still very prevalent but more subtle now. Much work is still needed ex: Schools are still in bad shape even 60+ years after desegregation

What concrete steps would you like to see the BWC community take in the coming year?

1.       Shule:

  • Revamp shule curriculum, Integrating racial justice as a theme throughout the years, not only focused in one particular year/class
  • Look for opportunities to hire more teachers of color & bring more adult role models of color into the room
  • Interview multi-racial Shule families & families of color about how they felt and what we could do better
  • Provide Racial Justice training for shule teachers:
    • Provide tools to talk more openly about all the pieces of students’ identities & relate the curriculum to students’ personal experience.
    • How do you support the one or two children of color in the room without making them feel tokenized or singled out?

2.       Build common language understanding of Structural Racism & White Privilege

a.       Offer an adult ed class/training

b.      Create affinity spaces if wanted

3.       Integrate Racial Justice into our ritual/holiday services (High holidays, Passover, etc.)

Break Out Group Notes: Racial Justice External

How would you like to see BWC work for racial justice externally?

  • Bring a Jewish presence to racial justice work in Boston
  • Work as white allies
    • Training for white folks (see racial justice internal)
    • Allies to Black Lives Matter
    • Work with People of Color led groups
    • Play a role of mobilizing other whites for racial justice
  • Focus on Criminal Justice Reform
    • Work with other Jews through JCRC (not just lefties) on Criminal Justice
    • Mentoring incarcerated individuals
    • Jobs not Jails campaign
  • Putting a racial justice lens on everything we do
    • Ex: Connections between structural racism in US and the plight of Palestinians in the Middle East
    • Shule
    • Holidays
    • Think about How we frame our events and how we might incorporate racial justice
  • Plug into issue-based work