WHAT’S THE REASON FOR (THIS YEAR’S) SEASON?
Lab/Shul’s second High Holy Days Season is all about RESTARTING.
Every new year we get to restart and refresh, taking stock of what works for us and what doesn’t – what we can do to live better and more helpful lives.
This coming Jewish year offers us a special and rare opportunity to rest, reset – and restart our lives.
Starting on Rosh Ha’Shana is the Sabbatical Year – known as Shmita. This Biblically mandated Sabbatical Year occurs every seven years, building on the weekly Sabbath concept, mandating a seven year cycle of agricultural rest that enables the land of Israel to lay fallow, the laborer to refresh, and financial debts to be released. Shmita is currently practiced in Israel in accordance to Orthodox rulings, but is of limited relevance to the majority of Israelis and world Jewry.
Lab/Shul’s focus for the coming year, starting with the High Holy Days Season, is the reclaiming of Shmita as a useful tool for our modern lives.
We’re calling it Fallow Lab.
Fallow Lab takes Shmita to the next level, relevant not just for farmers, Israelis or ecologists. By focusing on the essence of the Shmita concept, Fallow Lab will address a contemporary version of our ‘soil and toil’: the digital landscape.
Fallow Lab will include a year-long process of learning and practicing methods and models for more responsible, healthy and empowering use of technology in our personal and professional lives. This process will enable us to rest, reset and restore – encouraging better balance of work/life, connecting us deeper into the wisdom of our traditions, and cultivating tools for more mindfulness, happiness and global responsibility.
Learn more about Fallow Lab’s year long programs HERE and join us for the High Holy Days to find out more about the journey – and restart our lives – together.
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS OF OUR HIGH HOLY DAYS SEASON
Learning with Marcia Falk
From her Brand New Book: The Days Between – Blessings, Poems, and Directions of the Heart for the Jewish High Holiday Season.
Marcia Falk is one of the leading liturgists of today – bringing new life to ancient prayers and creating innovative, inclusive and inspirational prayers for this day and age. The Lab/Shul community will be privileged to welcome Marcia on Rosh Ha’Shana and have the opportunity to learn from her and get a closer look at selections of her poems and prayers.
Remembering Reb Zalman
Rabbi Zalman-Schachter-Shalomi was an important teacher and rebbe to many of us. This High Holy Days Season we will study some of this teachings on Teshuva and keep his memory and profound inspiration alive in our hearts and mind.
Can we stand with Israel while expressing empathy with Palestine? How do we engage in deep dialogue across all lines of political beliefs and tribal loyalties? Following current events in Israel and the Middle East we will explore ways to continue sharing our voices, concerns, cares and hopes for better days for all. Programs will include: Interfaith Prayer for Peace, staged reading of the newly revised original Storahtelling play ‘Becoming Israel’, a day of dialogue about peacemaking. More details coming soon.
The High Holidays begin each new Jewish year, but they are situated within a larger framework of sacred time: an annual opportunity for the process of personal reflection and communal commitment to renewal. The full High Holiday season begins with the fast of the 9th of Av (Tisha B’Av) on which the demise of the Temple is marked, and ends 60 days later with Simchat Torah, the day on which we celebrate the building of new structures and the infinite cycle of life and learning. As Lab/Shul begins its first step, we will delve into these rituals, narratives, themes and symbols, focusing on our individual process of renewal and our collective commitment to the building of a new shrine and sacred congregation.
SINCE WHEN ARE THE HIGH HOLIDAYS A SEASON?
I was inspired to think of the High Holidays as a 60 day process of personal transformation by the late Alan Lew, rabbi, poet and mystical teacher. He articulates this practices in his last book, This is Real and You are Completely Unprepared:
“This dance that begins on Tisha b’Av and ends on Sukkot…stands for the journey the soul is always on. It is a map, drawn by the soul, of the journey it must take, the journey it is already taking.The journey I will describe in these pages is one of self-discovery, spiritual discpline, self-forgiveness, and spiritual evolution. It is the snapshot the Jewish people pull out every autumn of the journey all human beings must make across this world: the journey from Tisha b’Av to Sukkot, from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur, from birth to death and back to renewal again. Seeing yourself in this snapshot will help you chart the course of your own spiritual evolution. Every soul needs to express itself. Every heart needs to crack itself open. Every one of us needs to move from anger to healing, from denial to consciousness, from boredom to renewal. These needs did not arise yesterday. They are among the most ancient of human yearnings, and they are fully expressed in the pageantry and ritual of the Days of Awe, in the great journey we make between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur….It became clear that this was a process that never ended, that rather it stretched out to the infinite horizon… The business of transformation was going on all the time. It never stopped. The two-month period in question was merely a time when we focused on it, when we gave form to something invisible that lay dormant yet was possible to awaken at every moment of our lives.”
“At the year’s turn,
in the days between,
we step away
from what we know
into the spaces
we cannot yet name.
Slowly the edges
begin to yield,
the hard places
the gate to forgiveness
The Days Between
“In our lives we are all ceaseless time travelers as we move from moment to moment, event to event. But the maps of time are hard to attain and even harder to read. Many of us find ourselves seeming to stand still in our lives and yet time whizzes by until approach our end of days.
“The Jewish people, perhaps because we have done so much traveling in space, have developed a map for traveling in time. Called the “festival cycle,” this map has it origins in the Torah and has continued to develop and change even in our era. The special days of the festival cycle are not random moments scattered over the year, but purposeful occurrences that draw their power from multiple sources – the natural world and its seasons, myth, religious traditions, folk customs, and decisive historical events in the life of our people. As such, the festivals operate on several levels at one and the same time, and hence can serve as a guide for travelers moving through the several dimensions of existence. One can also say that the festivals act as a lodgings for travelers making their way through the year. These festival inns are special accommodations not solely for the rest or retreat from the world, but also places to halt and take our bearings to make sure we are traveling and not just going around in circles. These are inns not for sleeping but rather for awakening from obliviousness.”
—Rabbi Michael Strassfeld,