So, it’s an educators’ conference. You can imagine, we are caught in our business casual pastel prints and scarves, pencil skirts and ballet flats. All but two of us are women, all educators, ages 23 to 60. This is the Jewish Women’s Archive’s summer Institute for Educators, and we’re here to learn more about the role of Jews in the Labor Movement. Now we’re in a breakout group. Scattered across the floor are 8 X 11 sheets with big, bold print, one word each. And the instructor says:

“This lesson is designed to have you explore what early labor activists meant when they said they wanted ‘bread and roses.’”

Washable Crayola markers make the rounds. We put down our laptops and smart phones. “On each sheet of paper is a word. Write down whatever comes to your mind for each new word, or draw a picture. Ready? Go!”

We take leapfrog steps over one another, moving word to word. We scurry across the carpet on our hands and knees, adjusting our skirts to stay modest.


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