We believe that synagogues should be Jewish communities for anyone who wants to connect — regardless of whether you step into the sanctuary. In our model of synagogue life, arts, culture, spirituality, learning, and social justice are woven into the fiber of the congregation.
Arts & Culture
Arts & Culture plays a significant role at SAJ, influenced by the Reconstructionist understanding of Judaism as an evolving religious civilization. SAJers enjoy cultural events together (see Community Life Committee). Our Social Hall is also an art gallery, featuring the visual art of SAJ members and curated by member Betsy Goldberg. A beloved tradition is our annual Arts Festival, which features a congregational art show, “Voices of the SAJ,” where SAJ poets and writers share their work, and “Salon Musica” where SAJ musicians perform. check the calendar 📅
Community Life Committee
Our Community Life Committee creates opportunities to build community among cohorts and across generations. The committee organizes Happy Hour Shabbat, a Friday night program of unwinding, listening to live classical music by local, professional musicians, and enjoying the company of other SAJ members; movie nights and discussions; in-home Hanukkah Candle Lightings; and trips to Jewish cultural events in NYC. If you would like to join the committee or learn more about what they do, contact Barbara Leese or Janet Brain.
SAJ is a Caring Community. We show up for each other through challenging times. Our synagogue provides an antidote to the loneliness and isolation that is present in our society. SAJ members organize the logistics of shiva and show up to help ensure a minyan (the need for at least ten Jewish people, 13 or over, be present to have a full service), send meals after surgery, and organize meal trains for families welcoming new babies or enduring chronic illnesses. As a member shared, “The community’s support was invaluable in my moving forward in a very dark and difficult time. I cannot thank SAJ enough for what it has done for me.”
SAJ partners with DOROT to provide support and services for our elderly and ailing members. DOROT alleviates social isolation among the elderly and provides services to help them live independently as valued members of the community. As a DOROT Partner in Caring, our members have access to patient escorts for medical appointments, fitness classes, short-term counseling, holiday visits with DOROT volunteers, intergenerational programs, and more.
Our DOROT Partners in Caring Outreach Social Worker is Jane Blumenstein. She is available to discuss DOROT services and programs to support older individuals and caregivers at SAJ. You can reach Jane at 917-441-3740 or JBlumenstein@dorotusa.org.
SAJ Retreats are a memorable and meaningful way in which we build our intergenerational community. Every two years, about 150 SAJers, from toddlers to elders, travel out of the city and escape the stresses of life for a weekend of deep learning, beautiful davening (prayer), and much needed menucha (rest). SAJ children and teens enjoy freedom to explore and play in nature. When we come together for Havdalah under the stars, s’mores and singing over the fire, all is right with the world.
The Adventurers are a group of retired SAJers — or those with flexible daytime schedules– who explore New York City and all it has to offer. The Adventurers plan activities during the week to places of interest in the New York City area. Some of the past outings include tours at the New-York Historical Society led by SAJ member Jordan Wouk, visits to buildings of historical interest, a guided tour of the National September 11 Memorial Museum led by SAJ member Joel Shapiro, a guided tour of Grand Central Terminal, visits to the studios of artists and sculptors, seeing a movie together and then discussing it over lunch, and our annual favorite – a Staten Island Yankees night game. For information, contact Ron Kushner.
Committee Involvement is a great way for SAJers to get to know each other while contributing their talents and passions to the larger community. Our committees include Community Life, Caring Committee, SOJAC (Social Action and Justice Committee), Finance Committee, Fundraising Committee, along with various short-term issue-based task forces. Contact our Board Chair David Greenberg or Rabbi Lauren to inquire about getting involved.