POSTPONED: Singing for Love & Justice Concert | May 31, 2020



Due to COVID-19, we have made the difficult but necessary to postpone this large gathering. While we were looking forward to celebrating our performers & honorees together this spring, our top priority remains the safety of our community.

We are working hard to reschedule this concert, featuring A Besere Velt, Lorin Sklamberg, and Polina Shepherd, who will be traveling to us all the way from the U.K, and honoring Yavilah McCoy, Aaron Lanksy and the BWC Class of 2019. Given the continuously evolving guidelines set by the CDC & MA, it remains too early to confirm a new date, but we will let you know as soon as it is set.

Thanks to our community, we successfully reached our first goal of 50 Host Committee members by the time invitations were set to go to print. In lieu of an in-person concert in May, and to continue to lift the spirits of our community, we will be publicly sharing pre-recorded performances of A Besere Velt, and clips from Polina & Lorin.

As ABV said at their Sing Out, Fight Back concert: "We are the resistance. These are uneasy times. Decades of progress in improving many lives, protections and rights that took years to achieve, are attacked and weakened. There is incitement to hatred. We have seen it before and we are keenly aware of the danger. We take inspiration from past resistance movements, particularly the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, to sing out and fight back!"

We will share when the concert has been rescheduled, and we look forward to seeing everyone together again when we can.



Boston Workers Circle is delighted to host “Singing for Love & Justice: A Besere Velt Yiddish Chorus in Concert with Lorin Sklamberg & Polina Shepherd.” This evening will honor three transformational community leaders: Yavilah McCoy, Aaron Lansky, and the BWC Shule Class of 2019. 

As Dr. Cornel West said: "Justice is what love looks like in public." From the stage, this musical journey will explore this connection, weaving the heartache and irrepressible idealism of Yiddish folk music and other diasporic influences into a vision of justice for today. Polina and Lorin perform around the world individually and as a duo, presenting Yiddish and Russian songs ranging from folk songs to original material exploring the connection between the Steppes and the Shtetl. Polina, Lorin, and A Besere Velt recently recorded together for an upcoming album.

Together, we will celebrate Boston Workers Circle and our 120 years of building secular Jewish culture & social justice community.

The event has been postponed. We will let you know when it has been rescheduled.



Tickets will go on sale in April!


Aaron Lansky: Aaron Lansky is the founder and president of the Yiddish Book Center, a nonprofit organization working to recover, celebrate, and regenerate Yiddish and modern Jewish literature and culture. Since 1980, Lansky and his colleagues have rescued more than a million Yiddish books, most of which would otherwise have been lost or destroyed. Today, they are bringing old books to new readers through groundbreaking initiatives in digitization, translation, oral history, and education. Aaron holds a B.A. in Jewish History from Hampshire College, an M.A. in East European Jewish Studies from McGill University, and honorary doctorates from Amherst College, Hebrew Union College, and the State University of New York. He has received numerous awards and recognitions, including a so-called “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation. His bestselling book, Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books, won the Massachusetts Book Award in Nonfiction in 2005. In 2014, the Yiddish Book Center received the National Medal for Museum and Library Service in a White House ceremony.    

Yavilah McCoy: Yavilah McCoy is the CEO of DIMENSIONS Inc. in Boston.  She has spent the past 20 years working extensively in multi-faith communities and partnering specifically with the Jewish community to engage issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. Yavilah is an educator, activist and spiritual teacher. She is a Jewish woman and a person of color and has designed numerous tools and methods that enable students and educators to be better citizens of the world through exploring differences and reaching for tangible solutions in allied engagement.  Yavilah brings a wealth of wisdom and experience in DEI consulting, non-profit management, philanthropy and engagement to this project and has worked with numerous partners to build strong, healthy organizations with measurable commitments to racial justice, equity and anti-oppression strategies. Yavilah is a certified trainer for ADL’s World of Difference Institute, National Conference for Community and Justice, and the National Coalition Building Institute. She is a certified coach for the Auburn Theological Seminary Pastoral Training program and is a renowned speaker, educator, and spiritual practitioner.

BWC Shule Class of 2019: As 5th graders, this group of students kicked off the successful campaign to change our name from Boston Workmen’s Circle to the gender-inclusive Boston Workers Circle, which is a closer translation to our original name, der Arbeter Ring. The students wrote a petition and worked with the Board to survey our members and  present their petition on stage in front of hundreds of people. Two and a half years later, we are proud to officially announce the roll-out of “Workers Circle” across the country, and to celebrate the pioneering class who had the heart, vision, and perseverance to make this lasting change. Students in the class are: Noah Finkelstein, Lucas Harvey, Jonas Helman, Owen Levine, Phineas Manasse-Latham, Jasper Milstein, Reuben Pomerantz, Jay Rochberg, Jake Shamon, Sophia Wolpin.



Lorin Sklamberg is lead singer of the Grammy-winning Klezmatics, a leading exponent of Yiddish song and traditional Jewish vocal techniques. Since co-founding the legendary klezmer group in 1986, he has received countless tributes to his crystalline, expressive vocalizing, which never fails to have an emotional impact on all within its range.


Polina Shepherd: Polina Shepherd is an internationally renowned performer, bringing traditional Yiddish songs up to date with passion and haunting soul. Her singing cuts a unique sound deeply rooted in east European Jewish folk sound. Growing up in Tatarstan also placed her close to Islamic ornamentation and timbre which can be heard in her unique vocal style and four octave range.

A Besere Velt – A Better World – is proud to be a “voice” for justice. This 80-member community chorus of the Boston Workers Circle Center for Jewish Culture & Social Justice, conducted by Derek David, weaves the heartache and irrepressible idealism of Yiddish folk music into a vision of justice and humanity for the 21st century. From haunting melodies to workers’ anthems, the songs come alive with multi-layered harmonies. The repertoire of A Besere Velt grew out of the shtetls, the sweatshops and union meetings, the camps and ghettos.