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Community Life

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 Cathy O’Keefe. 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 or Janet Brain.

Caring Community

Caring Committee

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 often present in our society. Through the Caring Committee, SAJ members organize support for each other after a loss or during an illness, or when families welcome a new child. Learn more about the Caring Committee and sign up to volunteer here.


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

SAJ Retreats

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

Mental Health & Resiliency Task Force

In difficult times like these, many people are experiencing mental health challenges. SAJ’s Mental Health and Resiliency Task Force was created in support of Rabbi Lauren’s work to destigmatize mental illness. Made up of SAJ members with backgrounds in psychiatry, psychology, social work, occupational therapy, family counseling, and education, the group organizes programming at SAJ to promote mental health in ways that harmonize with Jewish traditions. It also provides assistance in answering questions about mental health concerns, making referrals to mental health care resources, and providing guidance about appropriate types of care for individuals and their families. Please email to be connected to a member of the Task Force.

Community Involvement

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 Claudia Rader or Rabbi Lauren to inquire about getting involved.

“We are empty nesters and new to NYC.  We were searching for a new community and fortunately found SAJ!  People are extremely welcoming, and Rabbi Lauren and Cantor Lisa are so inspiring.”    

Sue and Mike B.

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