The Workmen's Circle, Iconic Activist Organization, Unveils State-of the-Art HQ in Garment District

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NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio to Keynote at Historic Ribbon Cutting

In a move that symbolizes its revitalization as a force in progressive activism and education, the Workmen’s Circle/ Arbeter Ring, one of the nation’s most iconic Jewish social change organizations, will unveil new state-of-the-art headquarters at a gala ribbon-cutting ceremony with a keynote address from NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.

The Workmen’s Circle’s new Garment District home base, on the 5th floor of 247 W. 37th St., represents a move “back to the future” for the 110-year-old Jewish social-justice organization, whose storied roots include a rich heritage of labor activism in the garment trade.

Local and state officials are scheduled to attend the October 4 celebration, which begins at 10 am. An evening reception, featuring celebrated writer and educator Bel Kaufman – granddaughter of legendary author Sholem Aleichem - begins at 6 pm.

Proudly progressive since 1900, today’s Workmen’s Circle seeks to make the world a better place by promoting social justice activism through Jewish values. The new Workmen’s Circle is building energetic and engaged Jewish learning communities with a passion to improve the world through positive social action.

The move follows the Workmen’s Circle’s milestone sale of its flagship building on E. 33rd St. last year. With its new headquarters, the Workmen’s Circle has a home that matches its revitalized mission and leadership. Both President Madelon Braun and Executive Director Ann Toback are the first women to head the organization. New board and membership structures, spearheaded by Braun and Toback, have streamlined the organization’s operations and created a non-profit better equipped to meet 21st century challenges.

“While we’re going back to our roots, in a sense, we’re also very much looking toward the future in one of the city’s most dynamic and progressive neighborhoods,” Braun said. “It’s a wonderful symbol of the promise as our second century unfolds. We believe the best is yet to come and our new offices represent that.”

Toback agreed. “Our new headquarters will allow us even more opportunities for educational programs, cultural offerings, community interaction, and partnership with Jewish and progressive organizations,” she said. “At the same time, our growing online profile and an exciting slate of digital initiatives, will continue to grow our global presence in the progressive world. In 1900 the Workmen’s Circle invented social networking to take care of the instrumental needs of our members, now we’re reinventing social networking to empower lifelong learning and activism.”

Conceived by New York design-build firm Sterling Interiors – whose principal, Jack Gold, provided his professional expertise pro bono – the new office at 247 W. 37th St. features environmentally-friendly paints, finishes, and materials, including MDC Wallcoverings and Global USA furnishings.

A New Vision for a New Century

Building on a history of progressive activism, the Workmen’s Circle is renewing its core values with a dynamic new vision for the next century. Through exciting new forms of contemporary Jewish expression, it will educate and partner with future generations to honor its roots as an agent of social change activism. The objective is energetic and engaged Jewish learning communities with a passion to improve the world through activism. Along with Workmen’s Circle’s own renewal as a force in American Jewish life, its inspiring new vision will provide fresh, accessible, and rewarding paths to Jewish identity.

As it builds on its new vision, The Workmen’s Circle continues to operate and grow the programs it is best known for: arts and cultural events, a stimulating Yiddish Program, holiday observances and lifecycle celebrations, Camp Kinder Ring and Circle Lodge, and its Signature Shules.

Recognizing the importance of facing challenges of a new land with a unified front, and inspired by Jewish values emphasizing community and social justice, a group of progressive-minded immigrants gathered in 1900 to found Der Arbeter Ring -- in English, the Workmen's Circle. The Workmen's Circle has remained passionately committed to the principles at the core of the organization: Jewish community, the promotion of an enlightened Jewish culture, and economic justice. The Workmen’s Circle is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Join us at circle.org or like us facebook.com/workmenscircle.

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Philippa Crowne
The Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring
212-889-6800 x 219
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