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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How 1000 hugs happen: One hugger’s report

On November 18th, a team of Lab/Shul friends, staff, board members and fans got together to launch our 1000 hugs campaign – getting 1,000 friends to support Lab/Shul’s start-up years with a monthly donation. Within the first 24 hours 35 people signed up for monthly donations over a two year period, and more than 20 people pledged one time gifts – with a total of $30,000. 
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Read Lab/Shul’s Jonathan Adam Ross’s moving description of why he was there on Nov. 18 – and why he’ll be back: 

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Before we started Sarah Sokolic asked us to speak with enthusiasm on the phone; I didn’t need the reminder. I had a list of 20 people to call and I was excited. 

I was sitting in the Lab/Shul offices on 125 Maiden Lane one night this past week with a dozen other committed friends of this new community I call ‘mine’ and I my dialing finger was itchy to get put to work. Our first ever phone-a-thon was a success, but not just in the typical ways one measures a successful fundraiser – we raised a decent amount of money. It was a success because it felt authentically related to the experiences I’ve had as a Lab/Shul congregant-participant. This was an open gathering of sweet, passionate, engaged Jews. Everyone in the room was a friend or someone who, by the end of the night, was a friend. We shared with each other before we began, in between calls, throughout the night. We discussed our jobs, our families, our hopes for the Lab/Shul community and some of us even made plans for Shabbat dinners in the future. And then we called other people and invited them to the party we’re starting! I left the office that night feeling like I was a part of something, and it was a strange but familiar feeling.

I realize now that the strangeness comes from the fact that since I moved to NYC 15 years ago, I’ve never been a member of a congregation:I’ve bounced around, tried different things, given up, started again. But the familiarity of that feeling I recognized at once: it was the feeling of being home. That’s what I’ve found in this new community: home.

Jonathan Adam Ross