Social Justice

A core expression of our Jewish identity at the Boston Workmen’s Circle Center for Jewish Culture and Social Justice is the pursuit of a besere velt — a better world. We weave that commitment into every layer of the community, including our holiday rituals, arts and culture programming, and our children’s Sunday School.

We act together, mobilizing around social justice issues that speak to our identity as Jews and as activists. Our social justice committees lead the way. New members are always welcome! Click on the titles of any of our committees below for more information.

The Acting for Racial and Economic Justice Committee (AFREJ) organizes our membership to support local racial justice, environmental justice, labor and immigrant struggles. Our labor and immigrant solidarity work honors the history of the Workers Circle, once known as the “Red Cross of Labor.” The committee gained momentum in response to the 2008 economic crisis, and continues to respond to today’s unstable and unjust economic challenges.

Building on BWC's commitment to racial justice, the Acting for Economic Justice (AFEJ) committee expanded its mission beginning in 2015 and became Acting for Racial and Economic Justice (AFREJ). We held a community wide kickoff meeting exploring the question - How can we as white Jews, Jews of Color and our allies work for racial and economic justice in the BWC community and the Boston community at-large?

Adding to the racial justice work we committed to in 2015, the committee voted on setting three new priority working groups in May 2019- reparations, climate justice, and electoral education.  

Resources about racial justice compiled by AFREJ Members

The reparations working group follows the 5 dimensions delineated by The UN Framework On Reparations as we learn, discuss and act together to build a culture of reparations in our lives and in our community. These dimensions make it clear that reparations is more than just writing a check; it is a process of acknowledging and taking responsibility for the impacts of slavery and the racist institutions and systems implemented after its abolishment (i.e Jim Crow laws, segregation, redlining, the prison-industrial complex, etc.) from which white people benefit. For more info and resources check out our Reparations Group Document.

We invite you to get involved! Check out our meetings below, or contact afrej@circleboston.org to reach the committee co-chairs.

The BWC Anti-racism Study Group meets for 90 minutes every month and currently has a schedule of the third Monday of each month at 7:15

The group was originally formed by BWC members after George Floyd’s murder in May of 2020. The current focus is on reading books, and learning through reading and discussion. The booklist is divided into three, somewhat overlapping sections: History, Black Experience and Working on White supremacy, White privilege, and ourselves; Reparations, activism.

We welcome new members! Members attest to the ever deeper and richer understanding of the struggle for racial equity and justice that has come out of being a part of this group.  New insights and understandings come from every book we’ve read.

To be added to the email list and for the meeting Zoom link, please email the co-chairs at antiracismstudygroup@circleboston.org. You can find the list of books we have read, as well as upcoming books on our schedule here

IJS was formed in the wake of the 2016 election as a response to the growing threats to immigrant communities in the Greater Boston area. Over the past three years we have worked on a number of initiatives including supporting the Safe Communities Act to make MA a sanctuary state; being a founding member of the Newton Sanctuary and Solidarity Collaborative which provided space to a family facing deportation for a year; and partnering with the Boston Immigrant Justice Accompaniment Network (BIJAN/Beyond) to support folks in immigration detention. We are currently focused on building a network of BWC members to support people being bailed out of immigrant detention by BIJAN. To get involved or for more information, contact the co-chairs at ijs@circleboston.org

The Israel/Palestine Committee operates on a subcommittee structure, which allows our large number of members to pursue different passions and projects in tandem, and is administered by a coordinating council.

Read more about the IPC's committee structure here.

Learn more about our six subcommittees and how to connect to them here.

To get connected to this work more generally, you are encouraged to join the IPC at its next committee-wide meeting! You can also reach out with any questions or request to be added to the email list by contacting the co-chairs at ipc@circleboston.org.

We warmly invite you to read the principles here, which ground and guide all our work.

Through political action, relationship building and community education, the BWC Jewish Muslim Solidarity Committee works to foster positive ties between Jews and Muslims in Greater Boston and joins with the Muslim community in opposing Islamophobia in all its manifestations.

Towards this end, the Jewish Muslim Solidarity Committee works to:

  • Educate ourselves at the BWC and the broader Jewish community about occurrences and effects of Islamophobia on the Greater Boston Muslim community.
  • Examine, individually and as the BWC community, how our conscious and unconscious biases affect our engagement with Muslims and the Greater Boston Muslim community.
  • Build relationships between BWC and individuals and institutions within the Greater Boston Muslim community.
  • Find opportunities for BWC members of all ages to cooperate and collaborate in political actions and educational events with the Muslim community.
  • Support BWC membership to take action against anti-Muslim bigotry.

Meetings are usually held on the first Thursday of the month at 7PM, currently over Zoom. If you're interested in attending a meeting, contact the committee co-chairs at jms@circleboston.org for the Zoom link and to get up to speed about what the committee is working on. 

JOCISM Resources

The following is a list of resources for and about Jews of Color and Indigenous, Sephardi & Mizrahi Jews, compiled for the Boston Workers Circle community. It includes organizations, networks, and collective efforts designed by and for JOCISM, as well as resources that can be helpful for white Jews seeking to educate themselves about JOCISM communities. 

The list is not intended to be comprehensive; if you know of a great resource that’s not on this list, let us know!

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Ammud provides Jewish education for Jews of Color (JOCs) by Jews of Color. We exist to empower Jewish people of color who oftentimes find themselves alienated or sidelined by racism in majority-white Jewish institutions. Ammud allows Jewish people of color to access the Jewish education needed to be empowered members and leaders of the broader Jewish community, creating space to celebrate marginalized customs and traditions, uncover lost histories, and (re)build culture. Our classes are accessible anywhere by way of online participation. 

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Be’Chol Lashon (Hebrew for “in every language”) strengthens Jewish identity by raising awareness about the ethnic, racial and cultural diversity of Jewish identity and experience. Be’Chol Lashon brings the historic Jewish commitment to civil rights and racial justice forward into the 21st century. Embracing the historical diversity of the Jewish people and, more importantly, the growing diversity of the community today is the most important step toward securing relevancy in an exciting American future.

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This study presents an intersectional account of American Jewish life by exploring the ways in which the ethnic, racial, and cultural identities of Jews of Color (JoC) influence and infuse their Jewish experiences. Beyond the Count was commissioned to inform the work of the Jews of Color Initiative(JoCI), a national effort focused on  building and advancing the professional, organizational, and communal field for JoC.

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Jews in ALL Hues (JIAH) is an education and advocacy organization that supports Jews of Color and multi-heritage Jews. Our goal is to build a future for the Jewish people where intersectional diversity and dignity are normative. Jews in ALL Hues is committed to seeing each community organization grow as diverse and as equitable as possible.

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The Jews of Color Caucus within JFREJ is a politically and culturally engaged affinity space for progressive Jews of Color as we contribute to JFREJ's many campaigns, and influence the overall political organizing strategy of JFREJ. The caucus hosts cultural events (for ourselves and also for the broader JFREJ community), and builds shared political purpose about the needs of our community, taking collective action to achieve those goals. Note that JFREJ is based in New York City.

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The JFREJ Mizrahi & Sephardi Caucus is a space for Jews who trace our ancestry from the Middle East, Asia and the Balkans, to learn about our histories and culture, build community, and get connected to JFREJ’s organizing work. Note that JFREJ is based in New York City.

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The Jewish Multiracial Network brings together Jews of Color and Jewish multiracial families and individuals to learn about and celebrate their Judaism. The website includes a plethora of resources for individuals, communities, and families of all ages.

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The Jews of Color Initiative is a national effort focused on building and advancing the professional, organizational and communal field for Jews of Color. The Initiative focuses on grantmaking, research and field building, and community education. We host the nation’s first-ever philanthropic and capacity building fund expressly dedicated to supporting Jews of Color.

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JOCGB is dedicated to providing a safe and welcoming space for Jews of color of all ages, and their families, to gather in community and celebration. They host regular events, some centered around holidays, others simply as social gatherings, as well as cultivating bonds between Jews of color outside of formal programs. JOCGB is affiliated with the Jewish Multiracial Network.

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The JOC Mishpacha Project brings individuals, communities, organizations, and Jewish institutions together to this gathering place for Jewish People of Color and our families/allies/accomplices. We also welcome our POC family members to join in the homecoming! Mishpacha means family. We offer workshops, advocacy, outreach, and gathering spaces for Jewish People of Color and their families/allies/accomplices.

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Each week, colleagues and friends April Baskin and Tracie Guy-Decker discuss and unpack race and racism from our Jewish perspectives. You'll find April and Tracie have a lot in common and some important differences: April is a multiracial, Ashkenazi Jewish woman of color and Tracie is a white, Ashkenazi Jewish woman. Join us on this journey as we move together toward racial justice.

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Celebrating, exploring and raising awareness of the diverse Latin-Jewish community and experience via community workshops, cohort experiences and live connection points. Jewtina y Co. is a Jewish and Latin organization on a mission to nurture Latin-Jewish community, leadership and resiliency, and celebrate Latin-Jewish heritage and multiculturalism.

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As a part of a broader community committed to social justice organizing and Jewish spiritual practice, we have created a space for Jews of Color, Indigenous Jews, Sephardim and Mizrahim to heal, reclaim, celebrate, learn, grow and build power together.

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Keshet and the Jewish Multiracial Network have teamed up to create a comprehensive list of blogs, social media accounts, articles, and multimedia dedicated to sharing the ideas and experiences of QJoC. Please note that this resource is a few years old, and some of the links no longer work. Keshet is working to update this soon.

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The Ko'ach Fellowship—a program of Joyous Justice’s nonprofit arm, The Joyous Justice Collective—is an elite 8-month transformational leadership program for highly-accomplished Jewish leaders of Color who are eager to further sharpen and amplify their vision, well-being, and leadership. In Hebrew, Ko’ach means “strength” and "power." The Ko’ach Fellowship is an intersectional and liberation focused leadership development program, providing group coaching by and for accomplished Jewish leaders of Color.

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Mitsui Collective is a new organization working at the intersection of Jewish wellness, spirituality, nature connection, and community building. We seek to activate models for contemporary Jewish practice centering multi-racial & multi-generational community and embodying Jewish values, ethics, and spirituality all seven days of the week. Mitsui Collective is open to all spiritual seekers while centering our work and community-building around those historically placed at the margins of Jewish life — including but not limited to Jews of Color and non-Ashkenormative Jews, LGBTQ, interfaith / intergroup families, and those of varied socioeconomic status. We view diversity and representation as a vital building block for vibrant, resilient community.

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The Mizrahi Collective is an emerging project grounded in the incredible work of Mizrahi Jews who have invested their labor and wisdom in creating spaces within progressive Jewish institutions to serve the goals of Mizrahi communal healing, learning, and organizing.

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