Shaaray Circles
Shaaray Circles


Informed by an overwhelming call for more opportunities to connect in a time of distance and isolation, we are launching Shaaray Circles, lay-led groups of about eight Shaaray Tefila members who will meet once a month, 7-8 times between October 2022 and May 2023 (not a long term commitment!). This year we will pilot two types of small groups which will create space for our members to be together in conversation and community. Groups may meet online or in person. 


Open Circles (November 2022 – May 2023)
Meets once a month with a focus on Jewish and secular holidays. 

  • Match me with 7 other members
  • I want to organize a group of 8

Sample Curriculum for Open Circles, December 2022

Affinity Circles (October 2022 – May 2023)

Jews Talking Long-Form Articles
Have you ever read a longform piece where you learned something completely new or random, or you encountered ideas you loved or hated and couldn’t wait to discuss it, but no one else had read the same piece? Here is your chance to gather once a month with Shaaray Tefila friends and soon-to-be friends of all ages to engage in a lively discussion about one longform article. Types and topics of the longform articles will be mutually decided by the small group members. Willingness to host a meeting in one’s home within walking distance of Shaaray Tefila is highly desirable for members but not absolutely necessary. Group members must commit to attending 5 of the 6 meetings.

Sunday Walking Group: Sundays in the Park Sans George
Gather Sunday mornings at 10:00am at 79th Street and 5th Avenue (or elsewhere, as agreed) to explore Central Park with maps (the Central Park Conservancy has a nice one to download). Briskly walking routes will be agreed to by the group, stopping for occasional presentations about various sights by members of the group and discussion; for example, ‘What kind of trees are we looking at?’ ‘How did Cleopatra’s Needle wind up behind the Met?’ ‘Who is the Belvedere in Belvedere Castle?’ ‘Who are all those literary figures whose statues line the Mall?’ ‘Let’s talk about Alice at the sailboat lake and how we have gone “through the looking glass” these past years,’ etc. Walks will conclude with a picnic lunch (bring your own). This group will meet monthly.

Culinary Journeys: Israeli Restaurants Around the City
Do you want to try New York City Israeli and Jewish restaurants but don’t know where to go, or if you do, never manage to get yourself there? Then this is the group for you. Once a month we will meet at an Israeli or Jewish restaurant for fun times and excellent food. Join current Shaaray Tefila friends and make new ones. Members of this group are asked to commit to participating for at least six months. We will take turns choosing restaurants and making reservations.

Pirkei Avot: Exploring Old Pithy Texts, for Deeper Meaning Today
Come join us in a small group discussion, reading classic Rabbinic texts through a modern lens. We will study together Pirkei Avot: A Social Justice Commentary by Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz (CCAR, 2018). Published by the Reform movement and recommended by Rabbi Mosbacher, this version of the Talmud tractate, often called “Ethics of the Sages,” explores the meaning of these traditional guidelines for ethical living for Jews today – both personally and communally. We will meet once a month for 6 months, each time reflecting upon and discussing the “sayings” that strike us as most significant. No knowledge of Hebrew or prior study of Talmud is required.

Developing a Meditation Practice
Do you have your own meditation practice? New to meditation but always been curious about trying it? Join us as we develop our own meditation practices and come together in community. We will spend some time in conversation, and some time in silent meditation. All are welcome!

THE BUZZ from other congregations participating in similar efforts around the country:

“Great opportunity to interact with fellow congregants on a deeper level! Thanks for organizing this.”

“What I loved most was our group. I feel safe and cared for and was able to open up without fear of judgment. Thank you!”

“Intelligent discussions, learning other points of view and the good feeling of being in a group of forward thinking friends!”


If you would like to sign up for a Passion Project group, form your own Open Circle group of 7-8 friends, or join a group of friends-to-be, take a leap, join us!


If you have any questions please contact Rabbi Jill Rubin.