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.


Purim at a Time Like This?? Yes, Still. Why & How

“The laughter of Purim is not a gentle laughter: it is a kind of angry, blood-red humor that celebrates the tyrant’s overthrow”

My teacher and friend Rabbi Arthur Waskow wrote this in 1982. He was referring to the mythic tyrant from the Scroll of Esther that has risen again at so many moments in our history, personifying the worst in human fear and hatred of the other. Waskow reminds us to do what we’ve done for generations in the face of hateful danger – rise above with courage, humor, faith, strategic activism, and deep compassion. 

Masks and a couple drinks are what make this messy holy day different than all others, a yearly invitation for an honest look in the mirror and at our shadows, both personal and public. We are invited to look beyond our mundane masks, laugh till we don’t know if we’re right or wrong, and find common ground. 

Because Purim is such a tall order for truth and transformation it has mostly been kept alive in the kindergarten, with G rated winks at the blood-red narrative that we all prefer to avoid and shut out. 

Not this year’s privilege. Purim 2017 demands more than just shpiel and party. 

With yet another fear fueled executive order from the White House just yesterday (eerily echoing the tyrant’s decrees in the story of Purim), and with growing violence and terror on the rise for so many of us, Purim 2017 is not business as usual. Celebrate? Yes. But let’s do it with the deep intention of doing our part for a better world for all, even as we insist on laughing. 

Lab/Shul’s got you covered. 

Join me this Saturday afternoon at the 14th St Y’s Pause/Play to find out “Why I Won’t Read Esther’s Scroll Out Loud This Year”. We’ll talk theology, political resistance, the problem with Purim and what we can do about it. Meanwhile ShirLaLa will be leading hands-on compassion training for kids at the Purim carnival. Tickets HERE / Free for SeasonPass with RSVP.

And Saturday night…COMPASSION PLAYS! Our first ever performance festival of original new works taking on the Book of Esther + a fabulous party, under the direction of Ezra Bookman and with an incredible team of writers, performers, poets, musicians and creative rebels. Tickets HERE.

I’ll be there, with a secret costume, and a plan to spill some secrets and truths about what all this means this year and for the future. At some point in the night. Late, most likely.

Last year I wrote this blog on the heels of Purim. Who knew, unfortunately, that it would be so relevant so fast. But nevertheless I’m glad we’re taking Purim to the next level of compassion and transformation. 

Hope to see you on Saturday, with open hearts.

A meaningful, transformative and happy Purim, no matter what.
– Amichai