Sign In Forgot Password

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 ( 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

5779 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.


Feb 17

A few Yiddish sex symbols and violence in shul along my journey into Judaism and love at first sight at SAJ, presented by Marilynn Talal.

Feb 24

Jewish Fathers & Nice Jewish Boys, presented by Rabbical Intern David Eber. How do we raise nice Jewish boys, and what does that saying even mean in an age of gender fluidity and increasing lack of identification with traditional Judaism? What does it mean to be a Jewish father now in a world of changing gender roles and child-raising? In this session we will explore how Jewish masculinities have changed over time, and also we will begin to reconstruct what being a Jewish father can mean today. All gender identities are welcome and encouraged to attend!

Mar 3 SOJAC Tish - “Take a dinar and lead me across” (Yevamot 106a): Torah, Talmud, and Our Obligations to Prisoners Seeking Reentry, presented by Nancy Ludmerer

                                                   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
"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. 

Dec 9


Tamar and Judah: Who did right by whom? presented by Diane Schreibman.

Diane will be taking a look at the roles we choose to inhabit, and the roles we play in each others’ lives. Our intent may yield an
unexpected result.

Dec 16


Abortion and Reproductive Health: Jewish Textual Perspectives, presented by Rabbi Lauren.

This Tish will provide an important framework for the Human Rights Shabbat discussion of Reproductive Justice.

Dec 23



Speaking of Reconstructionism: Sayings that Capture a Movement and a Moment, presented by Linda Rich.

Movements often use slogans to convey their essence, to reveal themselves and their ideas. We’ll explore Reconstructionist
Judaism through its aphorisms, which include: “The Past has a vote but not a veto” and “Belonging comes before behaving or
believing.” We’ll unpack these sayings and others to shed light on what the movement is/was about. Join us to learn about the
denomination, and how meaning can be encapsulated with pithy, targeted language.

Dec 30

K'doshim, Trump, and the Rest of Us, presented by Daniele Gerard.

Exploring a seminal Jewish text in troubling times.

Jan 6

Jewish Genealogy – Methods and Questions, presented by David Rudofsky.

David will describe his experience doing extensive genealogical research on his own family, and explore questions that experience
raised for him, most notably "Did immigration heighten or lessen Jewish practice?"

In the mid 1990’s David was asked to do a genealogy project to research how various members of the Joseph Feldman kinsmen,
a fraternal organization of cousins initiated in 1936, were related. The resulting family tree, which was researched largely without
the benefit of the Internet, identified over 900 descendants of David's great-great-grandfather Joseph Feldman, and also yielded a
rich tapestry of family stories, including how, when and why the six sons of Joseph Feldman did (or did not) emigrate from Russia
in the 1906-1920 time period. Looking back over this family history today, one of the interesting questions it raises is whether the
immigration experience led to heightened or lessened practice of Judaism, and why would it be one or the other. At this Tish, we
can exchange our ideas and family anecdotes on this topic, and depending on where the conversation takes us, also talk about
best methods for researching your family tree. 

Jan 13

Creating a Reconstructionist Practice of Morning Blessings, presented by Dan Woods. 

If we accept Kaplan’s ideas about God as not watching over each of us and not responding to our individual requests, what then do
prayer and blessings become? Why bother doing any of them? If God is the power that helps us to wholeness and growth, what
Kaplan called salvation, then how do the blessings and prayers help us tap into that power? Dan has been exploring these issues
by developing a practice of saying the Modeh Ani, the Asher Yatzar, and the morning blessings. He will explain what he has found
out and what other key Jewish thinkers such as Maimonides say about these practices.

Jan 20 Legal Immigration: Myths and Realities, presented by Immigration Lawyer (and SAJ Board Chair) Allison Spitz 
The Trump administration has had a great deal to say about Immigration. How much is myth and how much is reality?
This tish will give you a basic understanding of Legal Immigration and make you aware of some myths disseminated by
the current administration

Greening Tish

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.
Wed, September 19 2018 10 Tishrei 5779