“The seventh day [Shabbat] is a palace in time which we build. It is made of soul, of joy, and reticence.” –Abraham Joshua Heschel
The SAJ community comes together to build a place in time, in which all are welcomed to learn, pray, seek peace, question, reflect, wrestle, shmooze, eat, and connect. Whether you come to speak to God or whether you come to speak to your friend who comes to speak to God, join our community as we create a space for soul, joy, and reticence. Here is what you might find on a typical Shabbat morning:
SAJ’s services aim to help people move from their personal concerns or worries about the world to a place of praise, gratitude and joy. This does not mean that we forget about the world. In fact, our services are grounded in our struggles and hopes for ourselves and our world. Yet we utilize our time together to refuel our souls and spirits so that we have the energy to confront our lives and our world with the fullness of our being. Whether you are a beginner or know the prayerbook backwards and forwards, join us as we seek to transform loneliness to connection, anxiety to freedom, and despair to hope.
SAJ’s services combine traditional Hebrew liturgy with kavannot (inspirations) from our rabbi. Cantor Lisa brings in a blend of traditional and contemporary melodies, most often sung by the entire congregation. We use the Reconstructionist prayerbook Kol HaNeshama, which includes beautiful poetry and notes in the margin for inspiration. SAJ is proud to be the first congregation in the country to feature the “Open Microphone,” a time after hearing a drash (reflection on the torah portion) for davenners (prayer-ers) to add to the wisdom and discernment of the torah portion with their responses and reflections.
Pathways to Prayer
Two times a month, check the SAJ calendar for dates – taught by SAJ’s Rabbinic Intern Sarah Brammer-Shlay
Connecting to and seeking meaning from ancient Jewish prayer can be challenging. For some, we never learned the basic melodies, prayers, or structures of the service that would help us feel “ready to pray.” For others, the prayers might be off-putting and the theology not reflective of our own values. This workshop offers the space to learn the key prayers and to explore the meaning of prayer in one’s own lives.
Once a month – check the calendar for details
Music is key to unlocking our hearts and creating an openness for spiritual growth. Music is integral to every service at SAJ, through Cantor Lisa’s guitar playing to the drums of the talented Glenn Grossman.
Once a month, SAJ has a special Hiddur Shabbat (Beautification of Shabbat) Service, in which music plays an even more central role. The Hiddur Shabbat band –Naomi Less (vocals, guitar), Shay Kedmi (keyboard), Glenn Grossman (percussion), and David Meer (double bass) join Rabbi Lauren and Cantor Lisa for a service that is exciting, joyous, contemplative, and deeply moving. Through the service, we lift up a special theme with kavannot (intentions), words of torah, special aliyot, and music as we enhance the beauty of our Shabbat experience.
Community Shir (Sing-a-long)
Once a month, check the calendar
Imagine a sanctuary filled to the brim, with children of all ages, including babies and toddlers, and grown ups of all ages singing, dancing and clapping to favorite Jewish melodies. The energy and joy in the room when SAJ holds our monthly Community Shir (sing-a-long) is palpable. This is what true intergenerational Jewish community looks like.
Full Community Kiddush Lunch
Jewish mystical ancestors taught that eating is a holy act–and is it ever at SAJ! At Kiddush, our entire congregational community comes together: service attendees, Makom students, Pela families, members who might skip the services and stay for the nosh.
Saturdays, 1:15pm, about twice a month -check the calendar for details
At least once a month, there will be an opportunity to engage with a speaker, topic, music performance or text study. Examples include Nigguning Workshops (wordless melodies); a speaker from Women Wage Peace, an organization fighting for peace in Israel/Palestine; Five Wishes: Considering End of Life Care and Directives; a music performance and talk about Leonard Cohen and Jewish identity. Additionally, Makom Families up till 6th grade have a once per month Makom Shabbaton program. To learn more, visit the Learn page.
A long-standing and beloved tradition at SAJ, the Tish is congregant-led learning on a broad range of issues in Jewish history, texts, and practice. SAJ members bring their wit and wisdom, educating and challenging congregants with topics like “Torah, Talmud, and Our Obligations to Prisoners Seeking Reentry,” “The Ludmirer Moyd (1805-1888): A Rebbe Ahead of Her Time,” “From the Silk Road to the 20th Century: A Brief History of Jewish-Chinese Relations,” and “Creating a Reconstructionist Practice of the Morning Blessings.”
Tish co-organizers, Shel Schiffman (email@example.com) or Dan Woods (Dan@DanWoods.NYC), are happy to talk to you about the tish schedule or about your leading a tish.