Radical Hanukkah and a Stirring Protest

Last Saturday’s First Night! Radical Hanukkah party brought together members of our young adult community, singers from A Besere Velt (A Better World), klezmer enthusiasts, and other community members of all ages who were excited to celebrate Hanukkah.

We took over Johnny D’s in Somerville for the whole night, from the latkes they put on the menu especially for us...






to the Hanukkah singalong that Andrew, Rosa and Ivy led...







to a performance of“Happy Joyous Hanukkah” by members of A Besere Velt, to the Michael Winograd Ensemble's concert and the klezmer dancing that filled the whole venue...





to the Dirty Water Brass Band late into the night! If you weren’t there – or if you want to relive the klezmer fun – check out this video of Michael Winograd performing at Tufts University. Many thanks to Riva Pearson, Andrew Cohen and Aliza Wasserman for organizing this fabulous celebration!


On Sunday, our fifth graders – plus fellow Shule students from many other grades – stood up for the workers of the Le Meridien hotel in Cambridge in their annual Children's Protest against Sweatshops. Chanting “Don’t check in, check out!” and “Le Meridien, you can’t hide, we can see your greedy side," our students protested alongside hotel workers who have been calling for a boycott of the hotel for many weeks. The protest was covered in the the Cambridge Day, the Metro and WickedLocal Cambridge.

This is the statement that our fifth graders delivered to the hotel:

"This year, we, the fifth-grade class at the Boston Workmen’s Circle’s Jewish Cultural School, have been learning about the history of the labor movement, unions, sweatshops, and the conditions of working people and immigrants. We have learned how immigrants in our country, including most of our ancestors, have often experienced unfair working conditions.  We would have hoped that conditions would have improved for working people since the 1800s. Unfortunately, we have learned that these problems are not just history; they still exist in our country today.

We are joining together with other members of the Workmen’s Circle community because we are concerned about the workers at Le Meridien hotel in Cambridge. We recently met with a worker from Le Meridien, who told us that workers there have been treated unfairly ever since HEI bought the hotel a few years ago. We heard that workers are required to do too much work for too little pay, and often to do more than one job. We also heard that HEI would not listen when workers asked for respect in their jobs, and so workers have called for a boycott of their own hotel, asking people and groups not to eat, stay, or meet at Le Meridien.

We support the workers in their boycott, and we have asked our family and friends to respect the boycott too. We collected signatures from friends, relatives, and neighbors who have promised not to eat, sleep, or stay at Le Meridien until workers decide to end the boycott. Some of us live in Cambridge, and we all live in the Boston area, and we don’t want to live in a community where some people aren’t being treated well by others. When our friends and relatives come to town and need to stay in a hotel, we want to know that the hotel where they stay is treating workers with respect.

We ask you, the Le Meridien owners at HEI, to put yourselves in the hotel workers’ shoes and consider what kind of job you would like to have. We believe that everyone should have the right to a good job, including hotel workers. We also believe that people’s needs are more important than just making money.  We hope your company decides to do the right thing and treat hotel workers at Le Meridien with respect."

You can see many more pictures of both the Hanukkah party and the protest at our Facebook page.