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.


No Pain Like My Pain? Listen to our 3rd Open Phone Conversation

What did we talk about? 
Our third open phone call about the situation in Israel & Gaza had 30 callers on today – from all over the world. In the context of Tisha B’av –  the day of mourning for the historical demise of Jerusalem and many other Jewish calamities over the centuries – we focused on the grief we are carrying from this latest round of violence – and what we can do about it. We shared two new poems that were written with the news in mind (see below) and heard powerful comments and questions about the challenge of keeping empathy, reducing animosity, and finding ways of being more of the solution and less of the problem – esp in our social media lives. 
Amichai ended with a short Talmudic tale about perspective and hope: Following the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple a few rabbis visited the Temple Mount – in ruins. A fox was running out of the hovel that was once the Holy of Holies. The rabbis wept, but one of them, Akiva, laughed. Why? He explained that there were two prophecies: One that a fox will run through the ruins of the temple, but the other – that this will be forgotten when kids will play once again in the rebuilt streets of Jerusalem. 

Today is the day of mourning – but we honor Rabbi Akiva’s vision and laughter and join him in the hopes for better days. For all. 

Waking Up – David, New Jersey 
Waking up, Every Morning

 I wrap a rocket around my shoulders

It doesn’t keep me warm very well

It sheds it’s shrapnel around and into and throughout my body

Piercing, pricking,

wherever my mind allows it to proliferate

making it known that

This too is human

This reliance on death technology defines our ticking hearts and souls

I think I’d prefer to wear a cloak of compassion and

A smile of love.

No Pain Like My Pain  (Lamentations 1:12) – for Tisha b’Av 5774/ 2014 by Rabbi Tamara Cohen

That’s how it feels Dear God.

That’s how it felt to the lamenters exiled and Temple-shorn. 
That’s how it feels to each grief-wracked mother, father, sister, son, family, nation.

Habitu u’ru im yesh machov k’machovi.
Look carefully and see if there could possibly be pain like my pain, like the one bestowed by You upon me.

No pain like my pain, 
no exile like my exile, 
No land my land,
No desolate city like my desolate city.
No heart like my own aching heart.
No fear like the fear of my people.
No genocide like our genocide.
No humanity like our humanity 
Iin the face of inhumanity. 
No right like our right.
No wrong like their wrong.
No rage like my rage. 
No pain like my pain,
immediate and raw and righteous, ancient and true and etched in our genes by history’s injustices.

Dear God, help us loosen our claim to our own uniqueness.
Soften this hold on our exclusive right — to pain, to compassion, to justice. 

So that I may see my own child in your child.
So that I may see You —
in the bleary eyes of each orphan, each grieving childless mother, each masked and camouflaged fighter for his people’s dignity.

Dear God, Divine Exiled and Crying One,
May your children, all of us unique and in Your image, come to know the quiet truths of shared pain, 
shared hope, 
shared land, 
shared humanity, 
shared risk, 
shared courage, 
shared peace.

In Sh’Allah. 
Ken yehi Ratzon. 
May it be Your will. 
And own own.