Bread & Roses, Raisins & Almonds, Labor & Sustenance

Leah Wolff-Pellingra's free-associative piece on "sustenance" while experiencing JWA's Living the Legacy's Labor Movement curriculum.
Photo courtesy of G. Orcha.

This week teachers from around the nation are participating in JWA’S Institute for Educators. The focus is our new Living the Legacy curriculum, which uses primary sources to explore the roles of American Jews in the Civil Rights and Labor Movements. The 24 lessons that comprise LTL include art projects, text studies, and role-playing, all designed to provide entry points to Jewish identification for young Jews interested in social justice.

In a breakout session yesterday, a group of educators had the opportunity to experience the first lesson of the LTL labor module. When I entered the room, white pieces of paper lay scattered on the floor; in the center of each page was one word--Work, Pleasure, Culture, Money, Fresh Air, Rights, Solidarity, Joy, Want.  Marker in hand, each participant moved around the room, writing a single association on each page. Then each one selected the page that resonated with him/her most strongly and, in a few minutes, write a longer response.

The following are responses prompted by the words Leisure, Sustenance, and Pleasure.


Everyone should have leisure time,
unstructured time -- for its own sake.
The brain demands space to breathe, to create, to solve problems, to reset.
Leisure time is part of life -- a life where basic needs are met.
What is required? What is created?
Leisure time is the unknown.

~ Samantha Wood serves on the Education Committee of Temple Israel in Greenfield, MA and is the youth coordinator of her local Hadassah chapter.


Sustenance-- Spoken Word Podcast

~ Leah Wolff-Pellingra is the Family Worship Coordnator at Congregation Gates of Heaven in Schenectady, NY, a Cantorial Soloist serving the greater Capital District of upstate New York, and a Masters candidate in the Executive MJEd program at HUC-JIR.



So much of what I've been taught by my family is that the world says No.
But for this one time, America was Yes. We still talk about it.
In anticipation, it was suspended. Yes, for dictionaries, the Beatles,
and the many colorful fruits.

Still after all that, my father said
No, to trusting any other.
My mother said
No to giving up on traditions.
Especially if their end meant letting our closest ties
and our nearest self hang by a loose thread.

The Yes of my family and my life has been the pleasure of purchase,
of a good meal that doesn't include thoughts of everything we couldn't afford or couldn't find.
Everything is here. What a pleasure to feel it's weight.
All of this possibility was ours for the small price of using imaginary money.

My Yes is taking a rest. Lying down.
Noticing you and saying yes when you ask me
for a favor or an ear.
This is my pleasure.

~ Leeza Negelev, born and raised in the Russian-Jewish neighborhoods of New York and Boston, finds education worthwhile when the environment and intention lead to self-reflection, challenged assumptions, and a sense of closeness within the class.


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How to cite this page

Orcha, Gabrielle. "Bread & Roses, Raisins & Almonds, Labor & Sustenance." 25 July 2012. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on September 23, 2023) <>.

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