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.

Blog

My Grandmother is Now a Lake: Short Story for Int’l Holocaust Memorial Day

Today, January 27, we both take pause to remember…and to also celebrate the now.

First, the memory.

In 2005 the UN declared today, January 27, as the International Holocaust Memorial Day – not to be confused with the official Jewish Memorial Day in April and the day declared by the Israeli Rabbinate as the Kaddish Day for the victims whose date of death and burial place are unknown.

In 1995 my parents came back from a short trip to Germany – visiting Buchenwald – the infamous camp where my father was liberated from on April 11 1945, and Ravensbruck – the women-only camp where his mother, my grandmother Chaya Helena Lau, of blessed memory, perished, sometimes in the spring of 1945. She was 45 years old.

I wrote this short story in her memory. It will be soon published in an anthology of writings by children of survivors. Read it here:

http://amichai.me/bitter-herbs.html

May all memories be a blessing, today and every day.

And we celebrate the present.
Dinner Wburg 1This past weekend was a busy one for Lab/Shul – families, friends, reaching out to new faces, creating community.

We launched Shabbat: Dinner 2 Go – our first Shabbat Dinner program co-created with community members Keith Morton, Judith Greenberg and Adrienne Winton.  9 Dinners, 8 neighborhoods, 3 boroughs, 2 states – and all ages.
This was our first attempt to give space for home ritual experimentation and from the looks and sounds of it, it was a success.

A few words from hosts and guests:Dinner prospect heights

  • FUN!!! This was awesome. A perfect way to make community.” (Williamsburg host)
  • “Each brought something to the ritual component.  (NJ participant)
  • My best moment: hearing my son reading the prayers – this was our first Shabbat ever at home.” (Downtown host)
  • Everyone was in great spirits.  Everyone introduced themselves by sharing a “burning bush” moment in their own lives . ie:  a time when just one realization changed their whole life.” (UWS host)
  • “Eat, unplug, and be merry.” (Queens dinner guests)
  • “It was truly a raging Shabbat…Energetic and joyful and the conversation flowed until after midnight — covering diverse topics – turning off screens and pausing to talk.  Our teens and tweens were actively involved in most of the conversations. (UWS Host)Dinner UWS Janie
  • Our  guests articulated strong desires to find a way to make Shabbat (Fri night especially) meaningful.” (Cobble Hill host)
  • “Excellent, good food, good conversation, a nice sense of community building.” (Prospect Heights Host)
  • “Our celebrants included three boys ages 2,4 & 8 who raced trains and cars throughout the evening and laughed a lot.  We managed a bit of adult conversation!” (Harlem Host)

We also celebrated the future on Saturday: families in our community with young children (0-4) and how we welcome them into our story with our STORAHSTEPS program at Kolot Chayeinu.  Supported by the Jewish Education Project,  we are taking our Storahtelling craft and opening up our stories for families.  This weekend, through the lens of Noah’s Ark story – we learned how we can use our creativity when we’re stuck indoors during the rain. (Stay tuned for more StorahSteps programs in May and the fall.
StorahSteps at Kolot 15StorahSteps at Kolot 08

We remember the past.
We celebrate the here and now.

Amichai