Tish Program

*The Tish program is every Shabbat from 9:00 AM - 9:45 AM.*

Share your Knowledge and Enthusiasm at a Tish Shabbat Mornings

Shel Schiffman and Dan Woods, who recruit and schedule speakers for the tish program, would like to remind SAJ members to consider sharing their knowledge about a Jewish topic. 

The tish program has been going for 19 years. We meet at 9:00 AM on Shabbat and receive a presentation on a topic that falls into one of the following categories:

  • An aspect of Jewish civilization (history, literature, the arts, customs, etc.)
  • An issue in the Jewish community
  • Any general ethical or social justice issue
  • Yourself (your work, or your passion, something that helps us know you better)

TIsh speakers generally offer a 15 to 20 minute presentation followed by discussion. But sometimes, especially for a current controversial issue, a short introduction is followed by a discussion. 

People often ask Shel and Dan: Can I really do a Tish? The answer is Yes. If you have curiosity and excitement about a topic in the realm of Jewish learning, you should organize your thoughts and share your knowledge. When Moses was told that the Jews are: "A kingdom of priests and a holy nation" , it seems clear that presenting and attending Tishes fits into that idea.

Please reach out to Shel Schiffman (sds80@columbia.edu) or Dan Woods (Dan@DanWoods.NYC) if you would like to get on the schedule, or just attend a tish to find out more.

Upcoming Tish Schedule

5778 promises to be an epic year for Tishes at The SAJ.
We have a great slate booked for the Fall and Winter and a large portion of the of the B'nai Mitzvah families are presenting this year as part of their special days.


Nov 18

"From the Silk Road to the 20th Century: A Brief History of Jewish-Chinese Relations"
presented by Albert Tom & Anne Mittman

Nov 25

"Introducing FEL!X, a tool and methodology that uses face-to-face and virtual role playing to engender empathy.”
presented by Linda Gottfried

Dec 2



The Test: Jewish Holocaust Survivors in Jewish DP Camps After World War II
presented by Evie Litwok

Following World War II one fourth of Jewish Holocaust survivors were stuck in Jewish Displaced Person Camps, living in harsh
conditions with insufficient resources.  How did they cope?  How did governments and Jewish communities respond?
The presentation will include showing of rare taped interviews with former Jewish DP Camp residents. 

Tish Summaries

Oct 14  
Is Hashem Close? Or is Hashem Far Away? presented by Michael Rand

Michael translated his title to language he sees as more meaningful to most Reconstructionist:  Do we seek spiritual fulfillment by
looking within, or by looking out, to the community and to the world?  The answer, symbolized by the shofar is both.  The shofar
is a wakeup call to introspection and improvement of the self, but it is also a call to action to repair the world.

Oct 28












Revelation and the Liberal Jew: Reflections on Benjamin Sommer’s acclaimed “Revelation and Authority”
presented by Shel Schiffman

This book by a prominent bible scholar and theologian asks if observant Judaism and modern biblical scholarship can coexist, and answers
Yes, based on two key ideas:

1) Participatory Revelation: In contrast to Deuteronomy, which views the content of revelation as verbally formulated by
God and dictated to Moses (Sommer calls it Stenographic Revelation) the account of revelation in Exodus can plausibly be
understood as implying that revelation included contributions by both God and Moses, thereby giving a basis for thinkers such
as Rosenzweig, Heschel and Sommer himself to hold a participatory theory of revelation.  In Sommer’s version, God
commands (probably nonverbally!) obedience to a law as the expression of loyalty to the covenant, but the content of that
law is entirely a human contribution.  This view legitimizes change over time. The foundations of faith are not shaken if, as
human products, some laws come to be seen as morally suspect, lose their authority and are replaced.

 2) Written Torah as Oral Torah (Tradition): Like the Talmud, the Torah presents multiple, conflicting points of view that
cannot convincingly be explained away through interpretation.  It too should now be seen as a constituent of that diverse
body of tradition from which communities or their chosen authorities select and authorize.

Sommer’s book is written as addressing an audience who believe revelation by a personal God occurred at Sinai, accept halakha
as binding, and are inclined to accept modern biblical scholarship but are challenged by it.  Elsewhere Sommer avers that his ideas
are compatible with other theological approaches, including that of Mordecai Kaplan.


Nov 4


Immigration of Jews to the United States after 1921: Legal and Illegal, presented by Myra Zuckerbraun.
How the conception and application of the law affected our view of immigration.
How Jews accepted, opposed or violated the law.
Nov 11
"The Ludmirer Moyd (1805-1888): A Rebbe Ahead of Her Time" presented by Nancy Ludmerer,
in honor of my dad Morris Ludmerer and my 65th Birthday
Nov 18
"From the Silk Road to the 20th Century: A Brief History of Jewish-Chinese Relations"
presented by Albert Tom & Anne Mittman
Nov 25
Linda Gotfried: FEL!X Tish, a mini role-playing event centered around being thankful and
inclusive within our larger community. 

Sample Tish Recap (From October 17, 2015)

Lester Shane brought down the house with an excellent Tish entitled "A Salesman in Two Civilizations", which focused on his ideas about directing the Yiddish translation of Arthur Miller's classic drama. Lester started with a sweeping history of the Yiddish theater, which began in 1874 when touring companies started performing musicals throughout Russian and Eastern Europe. Before then, Purimspiels were the main form of performance in Yiddish. One of the leading companies from Vilna ended up moving to Poland and began performing serious dramas. The Dybbuk was one of the most successful early dramas, which detailed the travails of a bride possessed by an evil spirit. It was also the first play that Lester ever saw his father, Sam Shane, act in. Lester then weaved a tale about his father's acting career, he and his father's interactions with central figures of the Yiddish theater such as Joseph Buloff, Maurice Schwartz, and Eli Mintz, his witness as a young man of Yiddish theater in NYC, and the moment at which the theatre bug grabbed him as a four year old, as he stood between racks of costumes watching the ghost light on an empty stage. Lester then gave a scene by scene dissection of how he would have adapted the Joseph Buloff script, which it turns out was premiered without permission in Buenos Aires. Unfortunately the Dybbuk of the Yiddish theater, the propensity to argue, fight, and storm out in disagreement, doomed Lester's efforts at directing. But, as he pointed out, as the last line of his Tish, nothing could ever dampen his enthusiasm for the theatre: "

In the glow of that lamp I could see all the dust motes dancing.  And I knew.  Standing in the dark, surrounded by that smelly Hasidic garb, I knew I had to spend my life in the place where dust dances in the light." 


The discussion following the ranged far and wide, from the history of Miller's commentary about whether the Loman family was Jewish (Miller said they were but far removed from their Judaism), to Miller's relationship to Marilyn Monroe, to actual memories of Miller as a young man attending a Bar Mitzvah that Myra Zuckerbraun had attended.
Tue, November 21 2017 3 Kislev 5778