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Save the Dates: SAJ 100 Years

In 2022 we will celebrate 100 years of SAJ, moving into our second century as a joyous community and Jewish home where everyone’s voice is valued and heard. Our centennial anniversary is both a wonderful celebration and a time of reflection. Ever since SAJ introduced America’s first Bat Mitzvah in 1922, we have been reconstructing Judaism, questioning tradition, and expanding boundaries. In 2022, it’s time to take stock of who we are, where we are, and where we want to be. You will hear more about SAJ 100 Years activities in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, please save these dates!


Events Listing


All dates 2022. Details subject to change.

Visit the SAJ 100 Years Calendar for the updated details

Being rescheduled: Fair Trade Trio Celebrates 100 Years of SAJ
Sunday, January 23, 7:00 pm
Hannah Levinson (viola), Madeline Fayette (cello) and SAJ’s own Ashley Windle (violin) return for an in-person performance to play two little-known gems by Jewish composers: Leó Weiner’s String Trio Op. 6 and Pál Hermann’s String Trio, which was composed 100 years ago. This is the only program that is in-person only.


SAJ Centennial Kick Off Shabbat
Saturday, January 29

Given the rapidly changing Covid situation, we are assessing the appropriate in-person capacity for the Kickoff Weekend. If, as we hope, we will have both in-person and Zoom options for these programs, we will email an in-person sign up form on January 21. Sign up will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

9:00 am – 9:50 am
The Miracle of Religion in Modern Manhattan with Professor Deborah Dash Moore (Tish)
When SAJ was founded a century ago, the Upper West Side overflowed with religious choices. Seekers could choose from classical religious expressions or new religious movements. Those movements included reformers of different stripes as well as ardent and modern traditionalists. Join Professor Moore on a journey to 1920s New York and explore SAJ’s contribution to religious life in modern Manhattan. Professor Moore, who has familial ties to SAJ’s founding, is the author of Jewish New York: The Remarkable Story of a City and a People.  

10:00 am – 12:30 pm 
Shabbat Service
On January 27, 1922, SAJ held its first Shabbat service. On this special Shabbat, we celebrate 100 years as a congregation, 100 years of Reconstructionist Jewish thought and practice, 100 years of intellectually curious and honest, creative and joyful Judaism, and 100 years of an ethical, committed Judaism that Stands for All.
Led by Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann and Cantor Lisa Shapanka Arbisser and joined by the Hiddur Band, speakers will include elected officials Manhattan Borough President Mark LevineCongressman Jerry NadlerCouncilmember Gale Brewer, Grace Church Rev. Nigel Pearce and other interfaith friends, and Rabbi Deborah Waxman (President and CEO, Reconstructing Judaism). All are welcome! 


“A Singing Congregation”: A Century of Music at SAJ
Sunday, January 30, 3:00 pm 
The SAJ 100 Years Kickoff Weekend continues with an experience of SAJ’s musical legacy. Led by Cantor Lisa Shapanka Arbisser, join musicologist Prof. Edwin Seroussi and musicologist/cellist Paula Eisenstein Baker as we honor the legacies of SAJ’s early musical gedolim. Musical selections will include those from A.Z. Idelsohn, Moshe Nathanson, Chemjo Vinaver, Tzipora Jochsberger, and Judith Kaplan Eisenstein.


Social Justice at SAJ (SOJAC): Past, Present and Future
Saturday, February 19, 9 am Tish; Panel discussion at 11:30 am (Shabbat services end early)  
A focus on past, ongoing and future social justice initiatives at SAJ that e
xpand on our heritage as seekers of justice. 


Rise Up/Bat Mitzvah at 100: A National Shabbat
Saturday, March 19, 9:00 am – 12 pm, with additional events TBA
In 1922, SAJ held the first bat mitzvah in America, a trail-blazing step toward gender equality in Judaism. Today, our “B*Mitzvah experience” affirms gender equity and diversity, bringing voices on the margins to the center of the conversation.

SAJ has partnered with the Jewish Women’s Archive to create Rise Up/Bat Mitzvah at 100 on March 18-19, 2022. On that Shabbat, with resources created by SAJ and JWA, thousands of Jews across North America will join to celebrate the centenary of Judith Kaplan’s historic first on March 18, 1922 and the bat mitzvah girls who paved the way for all women and Jews of all genders to participate in Jewish communal life. Partners include the Reform, Reconstructionist, and Conservative movements, Yeshivat Meharat and JOFA (Jewish Orthodox Feminist Association), Hadassah, National Council of Jewish Women, and more.

At SAJ, we will celebrate this Shabbat by lifting up women’s voices and stories of our own pioneers. A special tish precedes Shabbat services. Music at services will feature female composers and we will highlight women leyners in our community. 

An All-Star Panel Follows Shabbat Services on The First Bat Mitzvah and the Revolution of Egalitarianism that Followed with Rabbis Carole Balin (author of the forthcoming book Bat Mitzvah Comes of Age), Sandy Sasso (author of Judy Led the Way and the first female Reconstructionist rabbi), and Joy Levitt (officiant at Judith Kaplan Eisenstein’s second bat mitzvah and pioneering rabbi).


***Watch out for the Bat Mitzvah Instagram Story Project***
SAJ is producing an Instagram campaign to better understand Judith Kaplan, the 12 year old girl, and to convey to a wider audience the circumstances surrounding the first bat mitzvah. It will be built around stories and images posted by a child actress playing Judith, set in NYC during the weeks before and after her bat mitzvah in March of 1922.


From the Archives of the SAJ
Thursday, March 31, time TBA
Opening of an exhibition of SAJ archival material.


Mordecai Kaplan and the Pursuit of Social Justice
Saturday, April 2, during and after Shabbat services
An engaging discussion with Scholar in Residence Eric Caplan, Ph.D. Dr. Caplan is currently working on an anthology of writings of Jewish social activist thinkers from 1850 to the present (JPS). 


Beyond Bat Mitzvah: Contemporary Issues in Gender Equity and Inclusion
Date and time TBA
As we celebrate the bat mitzvah anniversary and the contributions of women in Jewish religious life, we also consider what is next in the world of gender equity and inclusion. What barriers and inequities still exist for women, trans*, and non-binary people? What are the challenges and opportunities of this moment?


Judith Kaplan Eisenstein’s Heritage of Music:  An Illustrated Conversation
Saturday, May 14, following services
Judith Eisenstein, the first Bat Mitzvah, went on to become an accomplished composer and scholar of Jewish music. Conversation led by Rabbi Liz Bolton with Miriam Eisenstein and Rabbi Bob Gluck.


The SAJ Experience
Thursday, June 2, time TBA
In-person and online launch of a virtual experience highlighting the people, artifacts, and rich history of SAJ. Reception follows.


SAJ as a Civilization: An All-Day Symposium
Sunday, June 12, time TBA
Keynote address and engaging panel discussions on Reconstructionism, SAJ, our history, our impact on New York and the broader Jewish community, with Rabbi Deborah Waxman, Dr. Mel Scult, Dr. Deborah Dash Moore, and many others.


Cabaret Night
Saturday, October 15, time TBA
Stories and songs of SAJ as part of our Sukkot celebration.


Music of SAJ: Recent Past and Future
Saturday, November 19, after Shabbat services 
Cantor Lisa Arbisser will be joined by past SAJ cantors and current congregational musicians and singers to showcase recent and contemporary music of SAJ.


SAJ 100 Years Closing Celebration
Saturday, December 10 in the evening 

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