Exploring Ashkenazi

The deepest way one person can relate to another is with compassion and empathy. For many American Ashkenazi Jews, we find ourselves working towards tikkun olam (repairing the world), and working compassion and chesed (kindness) and tzedakah (charity/justice) into our expressions of Judaism. Our roots in social justice movements run deep, both as involved privileged participants and those in great need of help.

In this 90 minute, half-day, or 6-session workshop, we take a moment to reflect on ourselves. We identify our own personal family history, our ties to Ashkenazi traditions, the Asheknazi relationship to being European and Whiteness, and the myriad of cultural expressions and experiences that make up the boundaries of being Ashkenazi. We bring out our “cool” and “interesting” quirks, explore how assimilation fits into our narrative, unpack our expectations, and find that piece that we may not even have realized is missing. This workshop provides a safe space to work through the complicated and not-so-complicated that many American Jews have with their Ashkenazi heritage, and freely speak their minds.

If you are an individual interested in attending a workshop near you, please click here.

If you are a synagogue, Jewish Community Center, or other organization interested in hosting this workshop, please review our Heritage, Social Justice, and Artist programs. For more information, please fill out the contact information below. Select Summer and Fall 2016 dates are still available, and dates can be booked up to a year in advance. Shabbat programs are also available for the Heritage and Social Justice programs.

Reviews from past participants and organizers:

“[Gulienne did] a great job to create space for what is wonderful and dynamic about Ashkenzi identities, and what is hard or experientially difficult, and enabling the political landscape today to be one important part of the identity but not the whole. By separating Ashkenazi from whiteness [she] enabled a much more involved look into cultural questions and expressions, and also held out for a diverse and rich understanding of Ashkenazi past and present. I think the small group and large group setups… were both simple and very effective. And I think enabling people to self define in a multitude of ways helped people to see the wide range of Ashkenazi culture and experience, making questions of hegemony and political and social responsibility exciting instead of daunting.” – Dove Kent, Executive Director, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice; co-organizer of JOC Convening which hosted “Expanding Ashkenazi”

Based on my experience with the workshop in Boston [in July 2016], I know this will be a valuable, timely, and provocative experience for others.” – participant, Workmen’s Circle Heritage Program Exploring Ashkenazi workshop


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