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.

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OMG DIY? a gift for the Sabbath of Song & an invitation for a big conversation

Sometimes you just gotta burst into  song. Break-ups have their own soundtracks, and so do really happy moments when you find yourself humming some oldie or singing in the shower at the top of your lungs. (for me it’s usually ABBA, I know…) 
And sometimes it happens to a lot of us together.  A collective OMG moment. 

Miriam

This Sabbath is known as Shabbat Shira – the Sabbath of Song, inspired by the weekly Torah tale, B’Shalach, in which the Exodus finally happens, the Sea of Reeds is split and crossed and the just-born Nation of Israel, led by Miriam and Moses, bursts out in a song of praise to the deity that birthed their freedom against all odds. The song signifies a moment of release and relief and has become our ritual marker for the hope that help is on the way, faith in the power of the possible. 

The Song of the Sea/Mi Kamocha is part of our daily liturgy, and there are many musical renditions. Of course, we have no idea of knowing what the original Biblical score sounded like. Debbie Friedman’s is quite famous, and we at Lab/Shul are lucky to share with you another modern version, much more sedate – composed and sung by Netanel Goldberg. Check out his brand new recording – it’s sure to become a classic:
Mi Kamocha is an ecstatic song of praise to God and it brings up the really big question – what IS the role of this God in our modern lives? Do we really believe that there is some force out there or in here interested in our well being, freedom and success? Or is it all myth and metaphor – like the story about a sea split open at the end of a great chase scene that few of us take literally?  What are the moments in our lives, private or public when the greater mystery is revealed and our lips erupt in prayer or in song? 

Last Shabbat , during our Lab/Shul gathering at City Winery I raised the question about the role of God in our liturgy and lives. In our original mission statement we included the words ‘God Optional’ indicating that we invite all options from atheist to believer and all in between, and that more unites us than divides us when it comes to what we believe in and why. We decided to put this verbiage on hold until we discuss it with more of us who are invested in Lab/Shul. And last Shabbat, as 2014 kicked iun, seemed like a good time to start.

God-Optional?  Someone suggested we use GOD-DIY. Ellen Gould suggested ‘BYOG’ – Bring Your Own God. Hmm…?
What do you think? How would you describe this approach and what pithy copy would you like? I hope to invite us all for a live discussion on this in the very near future. Meanwhile – please write me with your thoughts or comment on our blog post here: Singing on the Sea: 2014
(and to quote the prayer I was taught when young by the immortal ABBA – thank you for the music…) 
Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem. Sing it on!
Amichai