You are a sacred piece of something big…

What is Gather?

Gather is Emanu-El’s small groups initiative, bringing together people from across our community to learn, connect and grow. These lay-led circles ignite conversation and relationship, bringing connection to an increasingly ‘distanced’ world, based on common interests and questions. Gather is one of the ways we make our larger congregation feel small.

Gather started in February 2020 and is now beginning another round of virtual lay-led groups. These groups will meet through May 2021, with the option of renewing.

Curious about Gather?  Please reach out to us with any questions at .

Gather members can be expected to…

  1. Create real and honest relationships.
  2. Help create an inclusive space where all can share comfortably.
  3. Create a place where members are present for each other.
  4. Find ways to mark Shabbat, holidays and life cycles together (within the framework of your group).
  5. Respond to guide’s emails promptly when requested.
  6. Support group members in times of need and celebrate in times of joy.
  7. Have fun!

Please note the following:

  • All groups will meet on Zoom. Specific details will be provided be the leader of each Gather group.
  • At this time, please select only one group to allow space for all who would like to participate.
  • Once a group is filled, a waitlist will be created or additional groups will be created if additional people volunteer to lead.
  • Space is limited to 10-12 individuals per Gather group.

New Gather Groups:

Jewish Art, Architecture
and Design

Learn More

Meets the third Thursday of each month at 7 pm

Jewish Art, Architecture and Design Gather explores and discusses Jewish art, architecture and design from ancient times to the contemporary era. Each Gather meeting will include a presentation and conversation about a particular artist, architect and designer. Presenters will include artists, gallerists, architects, designers, collectors and curators. Conversations will be about Jewish art, architecture and design. Topics will include the historical and geographical context, the mediums, the process and the possible meanings and interpretations. Jewish Art, Architecture and Design Gather is informational, educational, entertaining and fun. Everyone is welcome to participate and an art, architecture and design background is not required.

Gather Guide: Jonathan Baron
Jonathan Baron, ASID, IFDA, ISFD, NYS Licensed Interior Designer, is a design theorist, educator, artist, furniture, and interior designer.  He founded and is president of the Baron Design Inc, located in New York City. He has a bachelor’s degree in interior design from Louisiana State University in Interior Design and graduate studies from Pratt Institute. He is published widely in the local NYC media. He has won a Distinguished Member Award with the American Society of Interior Designers. He has been a speaker and Adjunct Instructor at the New York School of Interior Design, New York Institute of Technology, Fashion Institute of Technology and Pratt Institute. Currently an Adjunct Professor at Berkeley College, New Jersey and working on numerous interior design and furniture design projects.

Mentorship & Networking
(Investment Banking, Finance and Law)

Learn More

This Gather is for young and new professionals in fields like investment banking, finance, and law, who are looking to build professional and personal relationships.

Gather Guide: Brendan Dillon
Brendan Dillon enjoys working in highly effective teams and seeks inspiration and motivation from others.

NYC Politics & Government:
The Future of Our City

Learn More

Monthly or biweekly on Wednesdays at 7:30pm, beginning March 10.

This November, we’ll have a new NYC Mayor and administration as well as 35 new City Council members amongst other changes in the makeup of existing policies and government. What is in store for the future of our city as we aim to rebuild and reimagine how we work, live and play post-pandemic? Join Upper East Side District Leader Skye Ostreicher for this Gather that will include guest appearances from candidates in the race for public office in an open, all-viewpoints-welcomed always-candid conversation.

Gather Guide: Skye Ostreicher

Skye Ostreicher is an elected District Leader on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. A former lobbyist turned digital media host, Skye is the creator of IGTV’s Life Before the Virus, a 60-episode documentary series featuring interviews with elected officials and community leaders. She frequently contributes to a variety of New York-based political media as well as hosts her own political talk show produced by PoliticsNY.com. Skye is an advocate for bipartisanship in government and politics and lives by this philosophy: her identity as “The Fashionable Democrat” is both testament to her sense of style and marriage to her Republican husband.

All Gather Groups:

Binge-Worthy
Watching!

Learn More

What TV series are you spending your time on and why? With so much content available through so many different avenues, there is a lot of good (and not so good) TV to see. Together we’ll discuss what is out there, make suggestions and talk about what we’ve been watching and why we’re enjoying it.

Gather Guide: Rebecca Weisberg

Rebecca Weisberg in a nutshell. Lifelong lover of New York. Lifelong lover of travel. Lifelong lover of food. Lifelong lover of television.

Book Club
for Moms

Learn More

Join a Women’s book club! The only cost is your coffee if you want one! Books we love are: Educated, Where the Crawdad Sings, the Elena Ferrante series, Homegoing, The Underground Railroad, and The Goldfinch. We will have fun and casual conversations about topics such as family, friends, and life. 

Gather Guide: Bonnie Ross Wolff: is a stay-at-home mother of two teen boys, and loves books and movies.

Brush Up Your
Shakespeare

Learn More

This group is currently full, but we can add your name to a waitlist. Please email for more information.

For those who like Shakespeare and for those who would like to get reacquainted with his plays, this group would pick a play and read it out loud in one or two sessions.  Each participant would be assigned a role or two in advance, depending on the number of characters in the play.  The session would consist of reading the play and stopping along the way for comments and observations, perhaps even finding connections between the plays and Jewish tradition.  No theatrical experience required, just a vivid imagination, a willingness to experience the plays more directly and a whole lot of enthusiasm.

Gather Guide: Mark Weisstuch

Mark W. Weisstuch: Husband. Father. Grandfather. Teacher. Administrator. Theatregoer. Reader. Traveler. Photographer. Museum-goer. Searches for understanding and truth. Cherishes relationships. Esteems wisdom. Admires Shakespeare.

Explore Modern & Biblical Models of Leadership

Learn More

This group is currently full, but we can add your name to a waitlist. Please email for more information.

What compels us to lead and to act?  Which leaders inspire us and why?  Debate these questions while studying characters in Torah and inspirational leaders in history.

Gather Guides: Brendan Dillon and Carol Zack

Brendan Dillon enjoys working in highly effective teams and seeks inspiration and motivation from others.

Carol Zack is a lifelong New Yorker who loves to swim laps, play the piano, do calligraphy and hang out with her grandson. She is curious about everything.

Exploring Life’s
Big Questions

Learn More

So many of us are yearning for spaces to talk about life’s “big questions”– questions about meaning, love, responsibility, purpose, community, and God. We want deep conversations, we want meaningful exchanges, and we want to strengthen our connections to Judaism and to the Divine. In this Gather group, we will use resources from Ask Big Questions to scaffold our discussions, spark conversation, and ground our learning in Jewish texts and teachings.

Gather Guide: Barry Freidfertig

Barry is a retired elementary school teacher. He is now an artist painting abstracts as well as works with English and/or Hebrew text. He is presently on the Union for Reform Judaism North American Board.

Jewish Art, Architecture
and Design

Learn More

Meets the third Thursday of each month at 7 pm

Jewish Art, Architecture and Design Gather explores and discusses Jewish art, architecture and design from ancient times to the contemporary era. Each Gather meeting will include a presentation and conversation about a particular artist, architect and designer. Presenters will include artists, gallerists, architects, designers, collectors and curators. Conversations will be about Jewish art, architecture and design. Topics will include the historical and geographical context, the mediums, the process and the possible meanings and interpretations. Jewish Art, Architecture and Design Gather is informational, educational, entertaining and fun. Everyone is welcome to participate and an art, architecture and design background is not required.

Gather Guide: Jonathan Baron
Jonathan Baron, ASID, IFDA, ISFD, NYS Licensed Interior Designer, is a design theorist, educator, artist, furniture, and interior designer.  He founded and is president of the Baron Design Inc, located in New York City. He has a bachelor’s degree in interior design from Louisiana State University in Interior Design and graduate studies from Pratt Institute. He is published widely in the local NYC media. He has won a Distinguished Member Award with the American Society of Interior Designers. He has been a speaker and Adjunct Instructor at the New York School of Interior Design, New York Institute of Technology, Fashion Institute of Technology and Pratt Institute. Currently an Adjunct Professor at Berkeley College, New Jersey and working on numerous interior design and furniture design projects.

Let’s Get
Cooking

Learn More

As we enter into the darker months of the year, there is no better way to warm up than with a good home cooked meal. This Gather group is meant for the culinarily curious with a passion for food. Whether you are a beginner in the kitchen or a well versed chef, this is a community to learn from one another, swap tricks and techniques, and talk about all things food. I would like to see how this group grows organically and want to direct it towards the interests of the collective. I thought we could start with a cook the book, do a recipe swap, read a chef biography and discuss it, and do a wine pairing.

Gather Guide: Molly Kaplan Krueger

Molly Kaplan Krueger is a third generation member of Temple Emanu-El. She is co-chair the young members board there and has taught a virtual challah class or two. Molly loves to bring people together through eating. She is a test kitchen manager and recipe developer by day and a dinner party hostess by night.

Mentorship & Networking
(Investment Banking, Finance and Law)

Learn More

This Gather is for young and new professionals in fields like investment banking, finance, and law, who are looking to build professional and personal relationships.

Gather Guide: Brendan Dillon
Brendan Dillon enjoys working in highly effective teams and seeks inspiration and motivation from others.

NYC Politics & Government:
The Future of Our City

Learn More

Monthly or biweekly on Wednesdays at 7:30pm, beginning March 10.

This November, we’ll have a new NYC Mayor and administration as well as 35 new City Council members amongst other changes in the makeup of existing policies and government. What is in store for the future of our city as we aim to rebuild and reimagine how we work, live and play post-pandemic? Join Upper East Side District Leader Skye Ostreicher for this Gather that will include guest appearances from candidates in the race for public office in an open, all-viewpoints-welcomed always-candid conversation.

Gather Guide: Skye Ostreicher

Skye Ostreicher is an elected District Leader on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. A former lobbyist turned digital media host, Skye is the creator of IGTV’s Life Before the Virus, a 60-episode documentary series featuring interviews with elected officials and community leaders. She frequently contributes to a variety of New York-based political media as well as hosts her own political talk show produced by PoliticsNY.com. Skye is an advocate for bipartisanship in government and politics and lives by this philosophy: her identity as “The Fashionable Democrat” is both testament to her sense of style and marriage to her Republican husband.

Parent(s) and Caregivers of Children with Special Needs

Learn More

Join with other parents navigating the uncertainty and intensity of parenting kids with special needs. Some of us are spending more time with our kids than ever and even serving as their teachers- you may just be learning that you have a child with autism or a development need, or perhaps you have been doing this for a while! Especially during this time, gather with other parents to share tips, give one another pep talks. This is not a support group per se, but it will be a safe, diverse and inclusive space. Whether you are a parent, grandparent, no matter where you are and what your role is, join us!
Gather Guide: Beth Pilchik
Beth Pilchik is a marketing and publicity consultant and former Chair of our Religious School Parents’ Association!

State of the World:
Multi-Generational Current Events Group

Learn More

* This group is currently full, but we can add your name to a waitlist. Please email for more information.

This group will gather to discuss current events/politics. We are doing this because we want to find a diverse group of people from around our community to discuss current events. We want the chance to listen and learn from different perspectives and engage with them about the problems of our time. Hopefully, through this, we have a better understanding of current events and see things in a new light. Just as importantly, we hope to be able to meet people from the Temple we never would’ve otherwise met and shared a bond and community over our concern with the current state of politics. Members will be able to suggest certain topics they are passionate about covering in that month’s meeting. As a group, we’ll probably have a few articles to read in advance of each meeting so everyone has background on the topics. 

Gather Guides: Cameron Koffman, Greg Rasin and Elise Bloom

Cameron Koffman is a recent graduate of Yale and a young member of Emanu-El. He has spent his entire life in this community and even attended pre-school and became a bar mitzvah at Temple Emanu-El. He ran a political talk radio show for 3 years on WYBC Yale radio and led political groups on campus in college and high school. 

Greg Rasin and his wife Elise Bloom have been Temple Emanu-El members for the last six years. Greg is a partner in the law firm of Proskauer Rose. He is currently on senior status and is past Co-Chair of Proskauer’s Labor and Employment Law Department. Greg has two daughters and three grandchildren. 

Sheroes
of the
Torah

Learn More

SHEroes of the Torah delves into the lives of our Tradition’s most courageous women, whose contributions to the foundations of Judaism are often overshadowed by the celebrated men in their lives. We will explore how these women relate to today’s world and whether or not we can personally identify with their struggles and achievements. We encourage women of all ages to join in a lively discussion.

Gather Guides: Wendy Berch and Phyllis Brodsky

Wendy Berch is a retired city employee who is an avid reader of historical and Jewish novels. She is also a Korean drama addict and enjoys going to movies and dining out with friends.

Phyllis Brodsky is a long time civil servant dedicated to improving outcomes for older youth in foster care. She enjoys good food, good movies… both with good friends.

Sports Fans Gather:
All Ages, stages and genders!

Learn More

Sports fans of any level come one, come all! During these challenging and unprecedented times we will “gather” monthly to discuss the latest and greatest in the world of sports. 

Gather Guide: Lorne Bycoff

Lorne Bycoff is the founder of The Bycoff Group, a wealth management business. He graduated with a BA in Economics from Duke University, and is the National Co-Chairman of the Duke Young Alumni Development Council. He is a member of both The Young Members Circle and the Membership Committee of Temple Emanu-El. Lorne is originally from Boston and enjoys running, traveling, tennis and golf.

Gather is a partnership between lay leaders, staff and clergy. 

Membership Committee and Gather Vision Chair:

Nicole Frankel (Trustee of the Board)

Gather Vision Committee:

Nicole Frankel
Greg Rasin
Lorne Bycoff
Allison Salzman
Rabbi Sara Y. Sapadin

Contact

Need assistance to start your Gather group? Contact Rabbi Sara Y. Sapadin: 212-744-1400 ext. 501

Q & A

Why Gather?

For ages our ancestors gathered in groups of 10. It was the gathering that empowered them to raise children in a changing world. It was the gathering that gave them the strength to take risks. It was the gathering that sustained them and gave them purpose. It was the gathering that revealed their gifts and their potential.

Why Lead a Group?

For ages our ancestors gathered in groups of 10. It was the gathering that empowered them to raise children in a changing world. It was the gathering that gave them the strength to take risks. It was the gathering that sustained them and gave them purpose. It was the gathering that revealed their gifts and their potential.

What Will We Do?

Have Shabbat dinner or Havdalah, explore NYC, try out different coffee shops, volunteer. How you design your Gathering is up to you. Most importantly, talk. Maybe you want to connect with other parents of teens. Interfaith families, or people interested in documentaries, or Netflix comedy specials.

Or just people who want to talk about something other than the weather and the subway’s daily delays. Instead, you want to talk about big questions, small joys, and grow in the process.

When Will We Meet?

As the group leader, you pick the day and time, and parameters of the group and congregants will sign up to meet on a regular basis (at least monthly). We recommend you meet once a month February-May. Here’s the timeline for the pilot:

  • January: Gather Leaders Launch to build skills, connect with other leaders, learn Jewish wisdom of relationships
  • February: Kick it off with your group’s monthly meeting at your chosen day and time.
  • March: monthly meetings
  • April: monthly meetings
  • May: Your group’s final monthly meeting!
  • End of May: Celebrate! All groups will Gather for a roof-top celebration @ Emanu El. Reflect, Connect and get excited for summer!

How Many People Make Up a Group?

Groups are usually no more than 15 people, no fewer than 5. It is YOUR group, so you can decide to limit or expand the size.

Where Do We Meet?

Anywhere you want except the synagogue. Your home, a bar, a coffee shop, restaurants, offices, parks. As long as your gathering is focused on meaningful interaction, that’s what matters.

How Do I Start A Gather Group?

People You Already Know but don’t really Know…

Know people’s names or see them regularly at temple but want to interact more meaningfully?  Start here.

  1. Invite 4 or more acquaintances to get together monthly, semi-monthly or weekly. You can meet in person at a coffee shop, your home or on facetime, whatever will keep you regularly connected and committed to the group.
  2. Choose the makeup of your test group (interest, geography, or profession)
  3. Decide what to do. Have Shabbat dinner or Havdalah, explore NYC, try out different coffee shops, volunteer. How you design your Gathering is up to you.
  4. In your Gather group, dive into deep discussion and create a space to share beyond the surface. Coaching, resources, and discussion guides are available from Rabbi Gross-Prinz.

As a Group-leader, Will I Get Training?

Emanu El is excited to offer a group-leader training to kick-off this pilot, in addition to resources and coaching throughout the experience. Staff will be available to offer Jewish wisdom, and tips on group dynamics. Leaders are participants too, so you should have a meaningful, transformational experience too!

Will Help Be Available Once We Start?

We are here to help! Emanu El is happy to offer training, materials and ongoing coaching to Gather group leaders. If you want to start a new Gather group in the future, all you need are 1-2 people to spark a group, and Rabbi Rachel Gross-Prinz will help you Gather the rest. Get in touch . You won’t be alone at any point in the process!

Need an Idea?

How about these…

  • Justice and Jewish Thought Discussion Group
  • LGBTQ Torah Study + Culture Club
  • Ask Big Questions: 8 gatherings, 8 different coffee shops, 8 different BIG questions
  • Life: A Walk in the Park (walking group)
  • NYC Adventures: New experiences, new connections
  • Humility, Patience and Truth: A Gather group to reflect on Jewish values & Contemporary Life
  • Men Who Talk: Judaism and Medical Ethics
  • Emanu El Runs: Raise your heartrate and big issues
  • Shabbat Potluck
  • Cocktails and Torah