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The Workmen’s Circle or Arbeter Ring (אַרבעטער־רינג) is a Yiddish language-oriented American Jewish fraternal organization committed to Social Justice, Jewish Community, and Ashkenazic Culture. The Arbeter Ring provides old age homes for its aging members, as well as schools, camps, retreats, affordable health insurance, and year-round programs of concerts, lectures, and secular holiday celebrations.

The organization has District offices in Boston and Los Angeles, and a national headquarters in New York. There are approximately 11,000 members nationwide. They own and operate a summer camp located in Hopewell Junction, New York called Camp Kinder Ring. An adult vacation facility, Circle Lodge, shares the camp grounds and has bungalows and cottages.

The Workmen's Circle is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.

Contents

History

Founded in 1900, the Ring was at one time influential in the labor movement through its participation in and leadership of the Jewish Labor Committee. Having shrunk from the days when it was the largest organization of its kind in the country, it is now struggling to reinvent itself before its rapidly shrinking membership disappears completely.

While strongly socialist (Bundist) and labor-oriented at its inception, the political perspective of the Arbeter Ring has moved to the right;[1] on the American political spectrum it would generally be described as liberal with centrist influences and occasional conservative tendencies (e.g., the organization's vocal support for the Vietnam War). Today the Circle opposes the Iraq war and unfair labor practices, and supports comprehensive immigration reform, single-payer universal health care, gun control,[1] and women's rights to reproductive freedom.

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Presidents

Name Years of Service
Robert Kaplan 2008 - Present
Peter Pepper 2004 - 2008
Martin Krupnick 2000 - 2004
Moishe "Mark" Mlotek 1996 - 2000
Barney Zumoff 1992 - 1996

Publications

The newspaper affiliated with the Arbeter Ring, The Forward (פֿאָרװערטס forverts), was at one time reputed to have had the largest national circulation of any non-English language newspaper in the United States. The Forward has recently reemerged in an English language edition (as well as a Russian version; the Yiddish version also continues to be published) and appears to be growing in readership. For a brief period between 2007 and 2009, all Workmen's Circle members received the magazine Jewish Currents.[2]

Programs for young people

The Arbeter Ring runs many shules, or schools of Jewish culture, for elementary through middle schoolers. Shules emphasize the teaching of Jewish history, from Abraham onward. Jewish culture, including klezmer music and traditional Jewish cooking, is also emphasized, along with the Yiddish language and surrounding culture. Students learn to sing traditional songs in Yiddish, as well as in English and Hebrew. At the end of a student's time at shule, when he or she reaches age 12, a secular bar/bas mitzvah ceremony, called a commencement, is held. Commencement students prepare a research paper, a family history paper, and a writeup on community service they have performed through the year. At the group commencement itself, students give a talk on their research topic of choice, often also telling their family history.

See also

References

External links


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