You are a sacred piece of something big…

What is Gather?

Gather is Emanu-El’s small groups initiative, bringing together congregants from across our community to learn, connect, and grow.  These lay-led groups are based upon a range of topics, igniting marvelous conversations and dialogue. In these small groups, meaningful friendships are formed and congregants truly get to know one another. Gather is one of the ways we make our larger congregation feel small.

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

Gather members can be expected to…

  1. Develop real and honest relationships.
  2. Help foster an inclusive space where all can share comfortably.
  3. Create a place where members are present for each other.
  4. Support group members in times of need and celebrate in times of joy.

Gather Groups

A Journey With Music
and the Arts

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Meets the first Tuesday of the month, starting Dec. 7 at 7:00 PM, over Zoom.

Imagine experiencing the greatest performing artists in the comfort of your home! Each month we will explore different aspects of the arts including famous classical pianists, string players, dance artists, and film. Short video and audio recordings will be offered with commentary. Interesting conversation and discussion will follow the presentations.

Gather Guide: Edith Kraft

Edith Kraft is a concert pianist and Juilliard graduate who has won prizes in numerous competitions including the Naumburg Competition and the Atlanta Symphony Competition and has taught at The Juilliard School for over 30 years. Recently she performed on 2 pianos with Maestro Joao Carlos Martins live in concert on Youtube, Instagram, and Facebook in NYC and Brazil. She will be performing the Beethoven Triple Concerto at the Bellingham, WA Festival in July, 2022 as well as in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Beach Reads
Book Club

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Meets the first Wednesday of each month, starting October 6 at 7:00 PM, over Zoom

Keep the summer alive year-round with page-turning fiction filled with memorable characters, strong plots, and enough fun to remind you what you enjoy about reading. Each month, we’ll explore a different novel, discuss characters and story, and get to know each other a bit better. Expect a lighthearted atmosphere, interesting conversation and just the right amount of intellectual stimulation. No previous book club experience is required 😉.

Gather Guide: Nicole Frankel

Nicole is a lifelong reader, baker extraordinaire, retired Fashion Executive, to-do list maker, lover of 80s music, wife, mother, and usually game for anything – at least once!

Binge-Worthy
Watching!

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

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.

Brush Up Your
Shakespeare

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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

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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

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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 Friedfertig

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

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

Meets the third Thursday of each month at 7:00 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.

Gather Guide: Dana Davis

Dana Davis is a professional Graphic Designer with a degree in Graphic Design from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). She works as a Visual Designer for the New York Times’ product review service; Wirecutter where she contributes to creative brand campaigns, editorial illustration and advertisements that appear in the print and digital editions of the Newspaper. She is a born and raised New Yorker who frequently attends museum and art exhibits in the city.

Mentorship & Networking
(Investment Banking, Finance and Law)

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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.

State of the World:
Multi-Generational Current Events Group

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* 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. 

Talking
Sports

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Meets the first Tuesday of the month at 7:00 PM Eastern.

New York is the greatest sports city in the world, graced by memories of Ruth, Gehrig, Stengel, Munson, Lombardi, and a kid named Robinson who proved anyone who believed in himself could go incredible places.

Who are the next legends? Whose name will be etched on the Lombardi Trophy? Who will make the pilgrimage to Cooperstown? If you’ve got an opinion on sports, (and we know you do!) join us the first Tuesday of the month at 7:00 PM Eastern. It’s your pitch!

Gather Guide: Steven Eisenpreis

Steven graduated LIU Brooklyn in 1983 (Go Blackbirds!) and has had the pleasure to follow the Rangers all over North America, even on a cruise to Bermuda in honor of their regular-season championship in 1982. Steven also worked with MSG Sports Group and will be happy if ANY New York team wins a championship before 2030!

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


Clergy Liaison, Gather Vision Committee


Gather Vision Chair


Membership Liaison, Gather Vision Committee

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