Makom Shabbaton


Our journey has been long and humbling. We have worked with consultants, listened to the community, parents, students, clergy, director, professional staff, and board members. We have worked together as a collaborative team, and have come to a place we never would have been without experiencing JJP and analyzing our experiences. And so, with great excitement, we are ready to announce our new Makom program. [Drum roll, please...]


As our community decided to move on from the Jewish Journey Project, we looked to the dreams of our Makom families, our needs and expectations as a unified congregational community, and what makes SAJ so darn unique and homey. So was born Makom Shabbaton.

We learned that top priorities for our community are:

  • Spending more time together at SAJ 
  • Getting to know each other as children, parents, and leaders
  • Creating a program that recognizes our overbooked schedules 
  • Deep learning experiences that pertain to our lives
  • Facilitating a high quality education

Makom Shabbaton will take place 6x a year for two hours after Kiddush, and two Friday evenings, for both children and parents.

We will open in October and close in May with Friday night dinners celebrating our learning. For six Saturdays in 2017 - 2018.

SAVE THESE DATES for Makom Shabbaton:
Oct 6th, Fri night potluck in the sukkah [tentatively 6 - 8 pm]
Nov 4th, Saturday 12:30 - 3:30 pm
Dec 9th, Saturday 12:30 - 3:30 pm
Jan 20th, Saturday 12:30 - 3:30 pm
Feb 10th, Saturday 12:30 - 3:30 pm
March 10th, Saturday 12:30 - 3:30 pm
April 14th, Saturday 12:30 - 3:30 pm
June 1, Friday [tentatively 6:00 - 8:00 pm]

During these gatherings we will: 

  • Join together for Friday night dinners/Saturday extra robust Kiddush lunches.
  • 1 hour "Mishpacha (Family) Groups." Each Mishpacha Group will have 4 - 5 families (parents and children) learning together all year, facilitated by a master teacher.  
  • 1 hour "Specialty Groups." Each child will choose a modality for learning over the course of the year. Each modality will enable our students to advance through our curricular goals via different lenses.


  • 1 hour Parent Learning with Rabbi Lauren and Tehilah, concurrent with the 1 hour student "Specialty Groups." The topics for this will be generated with input from parents.

At the end of each Makom Shabbaton afternoon, we will gather together for Havdalah, at the start of Makom Shabbaton evenings we will gather for candle lighting and song/tefilla (prayer).


Makom 4th - 6th grade children will also continue Tuesday or Saturday Makom, "Hebrew Home Page," and they will have the option of attending a (free) weekly Thursday afternoon Beit Midrash class. 

  • Weekly Tuesday or Saturday Makom sessions for students at SAJ will continue. 
  • Hebrew Homepage will continue as you know and love it, with individualized one-on-one online Hebrew learning. 
  • The Beit Midrash for 4th-6th graders will be a house of study and meaning-making. Beit Midrash will meet at SAJ every Thursday from 4:00 - 5:30 PM with our incredible Beit Midrash Guide Alan Rudt. Students are welcome to come early to do homework, and can be picked up as late as 6:00 PM. Parent and teens are welcome to join. Students choose the topics in advance or can pick pre-chosen study adventures.


Monthly "Leg-Up" Emails to Get Your Family Ready

You will receive a monthly e-mail giving you a "leg up" on your upcoming mishpacha group and student and parenting learning, so that you can walk in the door already feeling like a "Maven."

Click here to let us know what areas of learning you're most excited about as parents for these 8 sessions.


Here's a preliminary list. Please add your dream!

  • The history/evolution of Judaism with an emphasis on Reconstructionist Judaism
  • What does Jewish history and text call us to do, as Americans living with political realities of today?
  • What guidance do Jewish thinkers and text have for parenting in 2017-2018?
  • What are Jewish home rituals, and how might they be reconstructed to fit my particular family's reality?

Looking forward to this next step in the journey,

Tehilah Eisenstadt, Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann, Lynn Cohen, Laura Gottlieb Feldman, Aaron Fineman, Emil Freund, Emily Hirshbein, Ginny Pepe, & Brent Stockwell

Makom Visioning Team (bios below)

Makom Shabbton Teaser

Meet the Makom Visioning Team!

Tehilah Eisenstadt
Tehilah is the Director of Education and Family Engagement for the Society for the Advancement of Judaism.

For Tehilah's full SAJ bio, click here.


Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann
Rabbi Lauren is the Rabbi of SAJ.

For Rabbi Lauren's bio, click here.


Lynn Cohen
Lynn Cohen, along with her husband Sam, joined the SAJ in 2001, and together they have raised their kids Rose, age 13, and Wolf, age 10, in our community. They live in Hell’s Kitchen. Rose and Wolf attend public schools, and go to Camp JRF. Also an active PTA/PA member, Lynn has a passion for volunteering in the area of education. She is honored to be a part of the Visioning Committee and to have the opportunity to contribute to forming a dynamic, relevant program that she hopes will inspire our kids to become lifelong Jewish learners, strengthen their Jewish identities, and set them on a road to tikkun olam (repairing our world.)


Laura Gottlieb Feldman

Laura Gottlieb Feldman, along with her husband Kenny, and their children Max (8th grade) and Zaz (4th grade) have been members of SAJ for over 6 years. They live in Hell's Kitchen and find the commute to SAJ well worth it. Laura enjoyed being part of the Visioning Committee and looks forward to seeing the new education program grow and bring together different parts of our community.

Aaron Fineman                                                                

Aaron and Nicole Fineman have two children, Miko (2nd grade) and Lior (Pre-K grade), live in the Lower East Side. This is the 2nd year that Aaron and his family have been SAJ members.


Emil Freund

Emil Freund has been a member of the SAJ community since 2006. Emil started his involvement with the community as a member of the Cantor Search Committee. He has been involved in the life of the community as a member of the Board of Trustees and has actively participated in the development of educational policy and programs at SAJ as a member of the Parent’s Association, and the Lomed and Education Committees. Emil recently served as a member of the Education Director Search Committee and the Rabbinic Search Committee. He is currently a member of the Board of Trustees Executive Committee, the Synagogue Visioning Committee and Education Visioning Committee.

Emil is an information technology professional who develops digital video content experiences. He is married to Anne Grossman and they have two wonderful children Max and Julia who attended Makom and JJP at the SAJ. Julia and Max recently celebrated their Bat and Bar Mitzvahs with the SAJ community.



Emily Hirshbein                                                         


Ginny Pepe                                                                 

Ginny is a long time member of the SAJ community whose children attended the SAJ Hebrew school. She is a retired NYC public school principal. 

Brent Stockwell                                                             
Brent Stockwell has been a member of SAJ for 5 years, along with his wife Melissa Stockwell, and two children, Jonah (6th grade) and Ari (4th grade). They live on the Upper West Side. Brent joined the Vision Committee to be a part of shaping the Jewish education program at SAJ so that the children will feel the same love and connection to Judaism, Israel and the Jewish community that he has. 

Makom Shabbaton Specialists & Beit Midrash Guide

Friday/Saturday Specialists

Details coming late summer 2017!

Beit Midrash Guide

Alan Rudt is thrilled to be returning to SAJ for his third year as an educator.

Alan has a deep interest in K-12 public education and is passionate about the need to strengthen parental involvement in schools. He works directly with top leadership at numerous school districts to help them strengthen community engagement and improve outcomes for children.  He is the founder and Executive Producer of Open Mic On Education, a cable TV/web show for school administrators.

Having attended yeshiva for many years, Alan has an appreciation for Jewish tradition, culture, and texts.  He is eager to share his knowledge with students and help them find meaning of their own.

Alan is married to Debbie Rudt, Administrative Director at SAJ.  They have two children, Hannah and Adam

Tue, September 26 2017 6 Tishrei 5778