Brookline expo is also an ‘inspo’

Hadassah Margolis

BROOKLINE — Last August, just after the fatal rally in Charlottesville, Hadassah Margolis found herself unsatisfied as she explained to her 8-year-old daughter why security cameras watched over a synagogue where she attended a Hebrew immersion program.

Margolis wanted her daughter to see that while there is hate in the world, there is also hope.

At the same time, as a newly elected Brookline Town Meeting member, she wanted to find a way to channel the frustration she was hearing from fellow residents about the political and social turmoil since the 2016 election.


“We don’t need another rally,” Margolis recalled thinking. “We need to show people all the good that Brookline residents are already doing as a response to all of the bad that’s going on in the world.”

Get Fast Forward in your inbox:
A look at the news and events shaping the day ahead, delivered every weekday.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

The result is the Inspo:Expo Brookline Action Fair, which will be held Sunday, Oct. 29, from 1 to 4 p.m. at Congregation Kehillath Israel in Coolidge Corner. Inspo, a relatively new word, means something that serves as inspiration.

At least 67 groups will set up booths to promote their social action projects, ranging from Parents Helping Parents to the Connect Africa Foundation to the Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence.

Margolis said she sent out 500 emails, inviting municipal, civic, religious, and charitable groups, as well as residents with project ideas. Her chief requirement was that each have some town connection.

But while she envisions “Brookline neighbors behind the tables and in front of the tables,” she said the event is open to all.


Among the youngest participants will be her daughter, who will promote Boston’s Forgotten Felines. Their family fosters stray cats through the program.

Margolis would like to see the fair replicated in other communities. She has already received inquiries about an Inspo:Expo Newton.

The Brookline expo will feature established groups such as Big Sisters, the League of Woman Voters and the Rotary Club, along with newcomers like Welcome Blanket, which enlists knitters to make blankets for immigrants. Part of the craftivism movement, the group is protesting the proposed border wall with the goal of producing enough blankets so that − laid end to end – they would stretch 2,000 miles.

Other groups offer opportunities to befriend isolated seniors, protect the environment, encourage biking and help people learn to read or speak English.

Margolis, a clinical social worker, describes herself as “a do-gooder by training married to another do-gooder.” Her husband, Michael Goldstein, is an executive with Year Up, a national nonprofit that boosts opportunities for low-income young adults. Goldstein, too, will host a booth at the expo.


Margolis’s previous organizing experience included founding with her husband their daughter’s after-school Hebrew immersion program, Sulam (ladder).

Margolis is a third-generation member of Kehillath Israel, whose rabbi, William Hamilton, was an early champion of the expo.

The Harvard Street synagogue is in the midst of a $20 million renovation/expansion project that it hopes to complete in time for the high holidays next September, according to David E. Williams, the congregation’s president.

The complex is also home to Congregation Mishkan Tefila, which moved to the campus last year.

Inspo:Expo will be held in an adjacent building, where the congregations are temporarily holding services and classes.

That building will be razed late next year and replaced with 62 units of affordable housing operated by Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly. Plans call for the six-story building, which has received town approval, to open in spring 2020.

Steve Maas can be reached at [email protected].