Welcome to Lab/Shul, an artist-driven, everybody-friendly, God-optional, pop up, experimental community for sacred Jewish gatherings based in NYC and reaching the world.


Gluten-Free Brownies as Metaphor? Post Gala Wow

Rhona and Amichai at the Gala

By Rhona Siverbush, Lab/Shul Board Member

Gluten-Free Brownies.  There were actually gluten-free brownies at Lab/Shul’s First Annual Gala!  Which I couldn’t help but take as a metaphor for all that is so transformative about Lab/Shul.  


Lab/Shul, to me, is all about connection.  Connection to our heritage, to its wisdom, to “ruach ha-olam”, to our community, our families and, ultimately, to ourselves. Someone recently said that Lab/Shul is “not ‘one-size-fits-all'”, and to me that is an understatement.  It’s an environment that is respectful of each of us and our humanity, and it is succeeding in connecting with and touching each person as that particular person hopes for.  So little wonder that one of the adorable servers at the Gala searched around and found me on the dance floor and proudly said, “you can have these brownies!  They’re gluten-free!”


I don’t think I need to connect the dots of the “she-went-out-of-her-way-to-find-me-to-give-me-a-GF-Brownie” metaphor.  Spiritual.  And with the mezoozah I’d just made in my pocket, I felt so at home.


So.  Three thoughts on Mezoozot, and then I’ll wrap it all up in a bow:


The first:  The make-your-own Mezoozah from test-tubes project at the Gala was nothing short of wonderful.  If anyone wonders whether to throw themselves heart-and-soul into Lab/Shul, how could they wonder after participating in that?!


The second:  I was one of the people who came up onstage and shared what “prayer” s/he’d put into her/his hand-made test-tube mezoozah. Had I had more of a moment to take my thoughts to their final conclusion, what was still germinating inside me but I hadn’t yet put into words onstage was this:  


DIY Mezooza

I’d written my young son’s incantation inside my mezoozah:  He says that he loves me “thousands and thousands to infinity.”  These words were the natural choice for this mezoozah because my family is about to move, we will be nomads for a while before finally settling into a new place, and my husband is so sad to lose this home we’re in, that he had built out from scratch.  But my son’s phrase is a prayer that reminds me that if I’m with my loved ones and feeling their love — including that of my larger community — it doesn’t matter where we lay our heads; we’re home.  


And we have it so good.  My heart hurts for the Iraqis who have recently fled their homes in Mosul for the wilderness (literally — that’s what the news reports about where many of them are right now: “the wilderness.”  We’re a people who know a lot about meandering the wilderness.  How can our hearts not go out to our Iraqi brethren?).  I’m so blessed.  Being truly uprooted as they are, I can only hope and pray that they soon feel like they’re at home, too, wherever that may be.  And I hope that in the interim, they are not separated from those who love them “thousands and thousands to infinity.” So that’s what I wanted to say.


On to my third thought about mezoozot:  I wanted a second test-tube mezoozah.  My little boy’s message to me is particularly timely for me right now, but I had a second one in me simultaneously…So here’s my alternate mezoozah:


Why I love Mezoozot is this:  To me, stopping to kiss a mezoozah is a chance to stop on our rush out the door, to pause for a nanosecond in the midst of the mundanity of daily life, to remind ourselves of the Big Mystery of the creation of all that daily life, and to let ourselves be awed.  It’s a chance to let Ruach enter and infuse what would otherwise be just rush-rush-rush with blinders on.  It’s a chance to remind ourselves to take off the blinders so that maybe we’ll be awed by the clouds in the sky or the new buds on the trees once we leave the house.  So to me, kissing a mezoozah is a reminder to take it all in and let ourselves feel that connection we have to absolutely everything, and to be wowed by the marvel of it all.  So written in my second mezuzah would have been the single word, “WOW.”


And Lab/Shul’s first ever Annual Gala, start to finish, was one big moment to stop at a threshold and say “WOW.”  And it really was a WOW.  Even better than Gluten Free brownies!  I’m so excited about, well, about the excitement that was in the air at the Gala.  People want what Lab/Shul is endeavoring to be and to do, and they want to get behind it.  And they’re pretty remarkable people.  This is thrilling!  We are on our temporal threshold…and what lies beyond is beautiful.  Wow.