Beacon Hill - West End neighborhood notes

Staff Writer
Link Boston Homes
This mother and daughter were having a great time on the ice in Boston Common last winter. The rink is closed this year due to COVID-19, but hopefully people will once again be able to enjoy the ice next winter.

New Songs for a New Year

Join The Boston Synagogue for a live klezmer, Jewish and Yiddish musical instrumental and vocal performance from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 23.

To bring joy to the community and to continue deepening the connection to Jewish arts and culture, the musical residency will feature local young Jewish musicians: Yiddish singer-songwriter Adah Hetko and klezmer duo Mamaliga (Mattias Kauffman and Rebecca McIness, joined by friends).

Go to for more information and registration or email the office at for the Zoom link.

‘Persona Non Grata: The Story of Chiune Sugihara’

Join film director Cellin Gluck, Sugihara Diplomats for Life Foundation Chairman Linas Venclauskas, and Staci Rosenthal from Facing History & Ourselves for a discussion on the unknown story of Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat (sometimes called the Schindler of Japan). What influences his decision to issue more than 2,000 visas to Jewish refugees in Kaunas, Lithuania resulting in saving the lives of more than 6,000 people?

The film follows Sugihara's life from his early days in Manchuria to his eventual posting in Lithuania and his appointment with destiny which would forever brand him a hero.

Watch the film at your convenience, and then join The Vilna Shul at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 23 for the panel discussion via Zoom.

Check out the film on official film website (Japanese only) and the Nippon TV website for the film (English only).

Visit for more information and registration.

‘The Human Cosmos: Civilization and the Stars’ book talk

For most of human history, people have led not just an earthly existence, but a cosmic one. Celestial cycles drove every aspect of daily lives. The innate relationship with the stars shaped who we each are - our religious beliefs, power structures, scientific advances and even our biology. But during the last few centuries, people have separated themselves from the universe that surrounds us. And that disconnect comes at a cost.

In The Human Cosmos, Jo Marchant will take the registrants on a tour through the history of humanity's relationship with the heavens from noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 26.

The group will travel to the Hall of the Bulls in Lascaux and witness the winter solstice at a 5,000-year-old tomb at Newgrange. They will visit Medieval monks grappling with the nature of time and Tahitian sailors navigating by the stars. They’ll discover how light reveals the chemical composition of the sun, and are with Einstein as he works out that space and time are one and the same. And they’ll find out why stargazing can be good.

Go to for more information and Zoom registration (Members and VESP holders: Free | Visitors: $5).

Watch and learn: Exploring "Jewish" through film with Layah Lipsker

Inspired by the interest in Netflix's "Unorthodox," the Vilna Shul, Boston’s Center for Jewish Culture will present a four-part series from 7 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 26, Feb. 9, Feb. 16 and Feb. 23 that explores Jewish themes through TV and films with a weekly at-home screening and follow up conversations on Zoom.

Pieces include selections from Shtisel, The Woman's Balcony, To Fill the Void and Gett.

These selections are available on Netflix and it will be up to each participant to secure and watch the TV/film selection.

Visit for more information and registration ($75/series or $25/class).

Taste of Israel 2021

Israeli food, a melting pot of diverse cuisines – Moroccan, Yemenite, French, Bukharan, Russian, Iraqi, Ethiopian, Druze and many others – contributes to the diverse Israeli culinary landscape. To celebrate this diversity of delicious cuisine, JArts (Jewish Arts Collaborative) established Taste of Israel in 2019.

JArts is inviting all Greater Boston-area food enthusiasts to support local restaurants while savoring the many flavors of Israeli food.

Taste of Israel 2021 runs from Tuesday, Jan. 26 through Tuesday, Feb. 2. Each participating restaurant will feature specials throughout the week. Prices, hours, and ordering information are set by the restaurant.

Visit for more information, including a list of participating restaurants.

Lecture: ‘The Implications of Blackness in Birth of a Nation’

D.W. Griffith’s 1915 film, Birth of a Nation, glorified and revived the Ku Klux Klan in America. In contrast, Justyne Fischer’s woodcut examines the legacy of deep-rooted racism within American systems and institutions. Fischer’s Birth of a Nation renders the Klansmen as mountains, grand and carved into the American landscape. They are not hidden in the shadows or part of a long-forgotten practice – they are ingrained, established and immovable.

Join Fischer from 6 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 27. as she discusses the deliberate compositional choices she made to depict the dark side of American history and how it shaped us as a nation.

Go to for more information and Zoom registration (Members and VESP holders: Free | Visitors: $5).

‘Finding Matilda: Uncovering the Life & Death of a Jewish Lithuanian Poet’

International Holocaust Remembrance Day was designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005 as Jan. 27 and marks the date in 1945 when Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration and death camp, was liberated.

In commemoration of this date, the Vilna and its partners will convene a science team panel at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 27 to discuss how and why they sought to reclaim Matilda Olkin's story – a little-known Holocaust victim and her extended family who were killed in an isolated location in northern Lithuania in the beginning of Holocaust in 1941 – and discover her grave.

A link to the 20-minute documentary, “Finding Matilda: The Anne Frank of Lithuania" by Kyle Conti – which traces the life and death of Matilda and her family through the lens of the scientists tasked to use testimonies and documents, historical photographs and geoscience to find the isolated mass grave where they were placed after their brutal killing – will be emailed to registrants to be watched prior to the discussion.

Go to for more information and registration.

The 3 C’s: Connection. Communication. COVID-19

The tensions that erupted in 2020 as the world faced a global pandemic, together and separately, can be felt in the strained relationship between three words…Connection. Communication. COVID-19.

Storytellers, musicians, artists and artisans, makers, activists and the diverse voices in communities come together for the exploration of these themes from 7:30 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 27.

Part live performance, part interview, our own stories will be interwoven with music, poetry and movement to express the inexpressible of an impossible year.

As talking face-to-face, being physically close to one another, playing music and performing together became an action that could literally risk one’s life…How do we connect? How do we communicate? How have these operations been changed and challenged by COVID-19?

This is a remembrance of what we’ve lost, a celebration of what we will always have. This one-hour event will be, as much as life is, what we make of it.

Go to for more information and registration. This virtual offering will stream live from the Museum of Science for registrants to enjoy at home.

Gentle movement and meditation

Laura Johnson from the Hands to Heart Center will present an online hour of gentle movement and calming breathwork from 2 to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 28 hosted by the Boston Public Library.

Learn practices to ground and center yourself in daily life and cultivate an attitude of mindfulness. No prior experience necessary. A yoga blanket or two bath towels might be helpful, but they are not required.

Visit for more information and registration.

Community Read Book Group

Join friends, family and fellow Yearlong Reading Challenge participants at the Boston Public Library 6 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 28 to discuss the January community read for adults – An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. The discussion will be moderated by a librarian and will take place on Zoom.

People do not need to be participating in the Reading Together challenge in order to take part in this book group, but are urged to join. Learn about the different monthly challenges, get recommendations for books to read and find other ways to connect with the reading community online.

Go to for more information and registration.

Kanopy Club: ‘Stories We Tell’ (2012)

About Stories We Tell: a film that excavates layers of myth and memory to find the elusive truth at the core of a family of storytellers.

Watch the film on Kanopy, then join the Boston Public Library’s virtual discussion from 7 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 28.

Visit for more information and Zoom registration.

Give the gift of membership through January

Give the gift of membership to ensure that the beloved parks - the Boston Common, Public Garden and Commonwealth Avenue Mall - remain icons of Boston and continue to receive the protection, care and management that they need.

Donations can be made at

‘The Walking Plays’

Take the Lyric Stage To-Go with The Walking Plays, their new free audio play series.

The Walking Plays is a series of six short plays by Boston-based playwrights, which unfold on a continuous route around the Back Bay, Downtown and Theatre District neighborhoods.

The Walking Plays explore the private moments that we experience in public. Rediscover Boston through new eyes as you walk alongside intricate characters or experience these intimate stories in the comfort of your home.

The first two plays are now available with four more being released in the spring.

Visit for more information and access to the plays.

‘Hatched: Breaking through the Silence’

The Esplanade Association will present “Hatched: Breaking through the Silence,” a four-week illumination and sound experience to provide a family-friendly and physically-distant celebration at the famed Hatch Memorial Shell in celebration of their 20th anniversary. “Hatched” will cut through the darkness of the winter months, offering a public space for joy and optimism in the New Year.

The work is an original 15-minute visual and sound performance led by Boston-based creative Maria Finkelmeier of MF Dynamics and is shaped specifically for the 80-year-old amphitheater itself.

Hatched is free and open to the public, taking place nightly through Sunday, Feb. 21. Viewers will be able to tune in to the original synchronized soundtrack on their personal devices while watching the illuminations. The work, made possible by collaborations with LuminArtz and projector sponsor Epson, will begin at 5 p.m. and re-start every 20 minutes until 9 p.m., offering more than 300 opportunities to enjoy the work in the open-air landscape of the historic Hatch Shell Oval Lawn. Masks and physical distancing mandated.

Visit to learn more about Hatched: Breaking through the Silence.

Science Book Club for the Curious

The Science Book Club for the Curious, created by the Museum of Science, is a reading group designed especially for those who are interested in science and technology and how it impacts our society.

The group will meet from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 11 for a discussion of Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett.

Visit for more information and registration.

Simple morning meditation practice

Beacon Hill Friends holds a simple meditation practice that helps reduce stress and ease you into the morning. The meditation is 15 minutes long, and begins and ends with a brief introduction to the practice. Orientation for newcomers begins at 8 a.m., and the practice begins at 8:10 a.m. on weekdays.

Join once or join regularly – this meditation is free and open to the public.

Go to for more information and the Zoom link.

Music at Home from King’s Chapel

Music remains an important aspect to the virtual presence of King's Chapel. Here are a few offerings to enjoy:

- “Talk About Music!” – Music Director Heinrich Christensen will host a weekly conversation on all things musical from noon to 12:30 p.m. on Tuesdays via Zoom. Topics will be announced weekly on their website and social media.

- “Weekly Musical Meditations” – This virtual glimpse of King's Chapel is accompanied by soothing music performed by their talented musicians. Every Monday they will add a new musical meditation on their social media channels with the hashtag #MusicAndMeditationMonday and on their YouTube channel.

- “Music in the Time of Covid: A Series” – In this pandemic world, Music Director Heinrich Christensen got together with his composer and videographer friend Graham Gordon Ramsay and recorded a series of videos of new music after dark. Read the blog post on their website about Heinrich's and the composer Graham Gordon Ramsay's reflections on these Introspections

- Music from Virtual Worship Services – On King's Chapel YouTube channel, they've curated a playlist of songs from their weekly online worship services.

Go to for more information and links to enjoy.

Online ESL conversation groups

Practice speaking English with other adult learners in an informal and friendly group setting from 3 to 4:15 p.m. on most Mondays, from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. on most Tuesdays, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on most Wednesdays, and from 1 to 2:15 p.m. on most Fridays through Aug. 31. The group is led by a native speaker and will take place online.

Online intermediate and advanced ESL classes are also offered at select times.

Visit for more information and registration.

Black Seed Writers Group

The Black Seed Writers Group meets from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. on most Tuesdays in Upper Sproat Hall at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul at 138 Tremont St. to produce a steady stream of poetry, protest, memoire, prayer and reportage which will be featured in The Pilgrim literary magazine showcasing the work of hundreds of homeless, transitional and recently-housed writers.

Visit for more information.

Young Adults Cafes Zoom gatherings

The Park Street Church offers Young Adult Cafes from 7 to 9:15 p.m. on most Tuesdays and Wednesdays, open to all young adults in the Greater Boston area.

The Tuesday café is comprised of young adults in their late 20s and 30s while the Wednesday café is designed for youth in their early 20s.

The Cafes meet virtually to help people stay connected in a healthy and safe way during these challenging times. The participants meet in a large group for worship, bible study and/or and fellowship and then break up into a variety of small groups, including ones for newcomers.

For more information, visit or email

‘Responding to the Call’

The Beacon Hill Friends House will present “Responding to the Call,” a two-month, weekly workshop to do this critical work of climate justice, dismantling white supremacy and beginning reparations.

Slated through Tuesday, February 23, the group will meet every other week from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in a whole group Zoom session, with alternating weeks dedicated to on-going small groups.

As the work of systems transformation – both the societal systems we engage with daily and ourselves as systems of change – is not purely academic, this workshop will use somatic and Quaker spiritual practices along with discussions, readings, and videos.

Visit for more information and registration.

LRC: Self-Care Series

Self-care is important to maintaining a healthy relationship with yourself. It means doing things to take care of your mind, body and soul by engaging in activities that promote well-being and reduce stress. Doing so enhances the ability to live fully, vibrantly and effectively. The practice of self-care also reminds people that their needs are valid and a priority.

Join this facilitated living room conversations from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays through Feb. 24.

Visit for more information and Zoom registration.

‘MIDWEEK: Experiments in Faithfulness’

In the Quaker tradition of Midweek (Wednesday) worship, the Beacon Hill Friends House (6 Chestnut St.), presents MIDWEEK: Experiments in Faithfulness from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. This is a weekly, facilitated spiritual practice with Quaker flavor and an experimental ethos open to everyone.

Go to for more information about the facilitators and the practices they offer along with program details and Zoom registration. These closed-captioned programs are free, although they welcome donations to support this initiative and all of their work.

Friday Unwind: Gentle Yoga

Unwind with Gentle Yoga – sponsored by Hands to Heart Center and the Boston Public Library – will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. on Fridays.

The yoga classes are geared for beginners with plenty of options and modifications for all bodies and ability levels.

The class will be live-streamed on YouTube/Hand to Heart Center – Yoga for the People.

You can also get the link at events. The recorded sessions will remain online.

Operation ABLE

Operation ABLE, 174 Portland St. (Fifth Floor) provides employment services and training programs to job seekers from economically, racially and occupationally diverse backgrounds.

All services at Operation ABLE are being conducted remotely, including distance learning, coaching, and wrap-around services. Class enrollments are open for computer skills training and Health Care and Social Services training, among others.

Visit for more information and registration.

Blessing Barn Beacon Hill

The Blessing Barn at 122 Charles St. is a thrift and antique shop, as well as a self-described “sharing center,” that accepts donations of and sells new and gently used clothing, linens, home decor, furniture, kitchen items, toys, records, books and wall art, among myriad other items.

BBBH exists to provide simple, short term housing for patients and their support individuals needing medical care away from home. They are proud to provide a ROOM IN THE CITY.

Join them by giving in the following ways: Offer to be a host home; Pay for a room in the city for one night; Purchase items in their store; Give a monetary donation using their secure form.

Visit for more information.

MOS at Home

Engage with Museum Educators Live at MOS at Home. Schedules change weekly and may include a weekly STEM challenge; virtual planetarium visits; live animal visits, science stories; science-related question and answer panels; and Sub-space events.

Visit and/or for more information and reservations.

Hill House winter programming

Ready for a warm, safe and fun winter with Hill House, Inc., 127 Mount Vernon St.?

On-going registration for winter programming that includes basketball, music, art, STEM and much more continues for all members and nonmembers.

Pod spots will be available for those looking for semi-private classes with their instructors.

Give to Hill House's 2020-2021 Fundraising Appeal to help keep programs running.

Visit for more information and sign ups.

College worshiping communities

The Park Street Church College Community seeks to provide a church home for undergraduate students from around Boston – a welcoming space where students experience the heart of God and engage with the mission of God through their encounter with the people of God.

Wherever you are on your spiritual journey, they invite you to join them at Park Street Church and in a ministry on your campus. (PSC partners with Cru Boston on campus).

Some students at Park Street Church are involved in other campus ministries, which include Christian Union, InterVarsity and Navigators. Park Street Church encourages student involvement in any of the on-campus fellowships.

Visit for more information, including events and groups.

Free ‘grab-and-go’ meals/food resource information

Boston Eats will continue to provide free nutritious breakfast and lunch to city kids and youth –

18 years of age and under. No ID or registration required.

Visit or phone 1-800-645-8333 for a list of meal locations and other information. A list of food pantries and soup kitchens is also included.

Visit for a list of current food pantries, food closets, food banks, soup kitchens, congregate meal locations, food boxes, vouchers, etc.

If you need additional food resources, contact Project Bread’s Food Source Hotline at 800-645-8333.

Big Sister mentoring

Since 1951, the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston continues to make and support one-to-one mentoring relationships between thousands of women and girls each year.

The Big Sister professional staff matches a girl between the ages of 7 and 15 with a woman who is at least 20 years old, based on shared preferences and interests and continues to provide award-winning (virtual) support and guidance to each Big Sister, Little Sister, and Little sister’s family.

To learn more about how to become a Big Sister or to enroll a girl to become a Little Sister, visit

‘Hidden Gardens of Beacon Hill’ books for sale

Beacon Hill Garden Club’s Hidden Gardens of Beacon Hill: Creating Green Spaces in Urban Places is a combination wish book and reference book all in one. Throughout the book, people will discover the many solutions Beacon Hill’s gardeners have used to make their gardens appealing.

The 85th anniversary edition is a full-color, hard-bound book with more than 110 professional photographs by Peter Vanderwarker and Thomas Lingner. It is filled with pages offering practical solutions to a variety of garden conundrums: walls, paving, levels, gates and doors, ornaments, furniture, light and color.

In addition, there is an addendum listing common and Latin names of trees, shrubs, vines, perennials, ground covers, bulbs and rhizomes, wild plants and annuals that succeed in our gardens.

The book can be purchased at Blackstone’s at 46 Charles St. and Gary Drug at 59 Charles St.

Visit for more information.

Boston Athenæum

Boston Athenæum, 10½ Beacon St. offers many activities online free of charge, serving their members, the Boston community and beyond.

The Athenæum is open to members for book pick-up and drop-off in the lobby, and by appointment to use the reading rooms. Up to five Day Passes are now available for non-members each day.

Phone 617-720-7604 with questions and to reserve time in the building.

Visit for more information.

MANNA Community Program at Cathedral Church of St. Paul

Although many other programs have closed during this pandemic, the feeding ministry of the MANNA Community at Cathedral Church of St. Paul, 138 Tremont St. has expanded its ministry to accommodate the growing number of people in need.

In addition to the Monday Lunch Program, they are now serving breakfast and giving out water on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays.

Serving these individually-packaged meals to a larger of people in need comes at a greater expense to the church. Help keep this program alive by donating money to help purchase food and supplies.

Visit for more information.

Wednesday Night Supper Club – ‘Takeout Meal in a Sack’

The Wednesday Night Supper Club is held from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Paulist Center Auditorium, 5 Park St. Place. At this time, they have shifted to a “takeout meal in a sack.”

The Paulist Center volunteers have been serving more than 200 people a week who don’t have access to a good hot meal. The program has been running for 50 years.

Visit to volunteer to help out in any way (cook, serve, clean up; donate supplies, food or money; etc.) or for more information.

Homeless Outreach Ministry and Engagement (H.O.M.E.)

Park Street Church’s Homeless Outreach Ministry and Engagement (H.O.M.E.), formerly "TNO," will prepare and package a hot meal, then distribute them along with a package of socks, underwear and toiletries for men and women outside their church from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday nights and from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturdays to their vulnerable neighbors on the streets of Boston.

If you would like to volunteer or make a donation of money, food, toiletries or gift cards, or would like additional information on ways to make a difference, contact

Visit for more information.

Beacon Hill Garden Club – Donations welcome

Since its founding in 1928, the Beacon Hill Garden Club has encouraged the love of horticulture and urban gardening.

Even though the Beacon Hill Garden Club has canceled two of its most prestigious events last year – the Beacon Hill Garden Soiree and the BH Hidden Gardens Tour – they are still making donations to various organizations in Boston and Massachusetts, and they encourage you to do so in your local community to help organizations dedicated to horticulture, conservation and civic improvement.

They look forward to seeing you at the annual Beacon Hill Garden Soiree and Gardens Tours this year.

Visit for more information.