Lab/Shul, founded in 2013, is an everybody-friendly, artist driven, pop-up Jewish congregation based in NYC and reaching the world. The Lab/Shul community is dedicated to exploring, creating and celebrating innovative approaches for contemplation, life cycle rituals, the arts, life-long learning and social justice.
Core to Lab/Shul’s success is its organic evolution is its signature pedagogy – the Storahtelling Maven Method™. This innovative approach, celebrated worldwide since 1999, integrates Judaism’s oldest storytelling traditions with contemporary stagecraft and educational theory, informing and transforming the ways modern Jews relate to their cultural legacy, ritual celebrations, and spiritual heritage.
Raising the Bar is our program offering Bar and Bat Mitzva education and celebration. We prefer to call it B Mitzva – more gender neutral, inclusive and everybody-friendly.
Raising the Bar: At-a-Glance
Now in its seventh year, Raising the Bar is our innovative, personalized B Mitzva program, re-imagining the process and product of this coming of age milestone in the 21st Century. We create local NYC-based cohorts that meet the needs of B Mitzva tweens and their families over a 12-24 months period. Each cohort consists of 8-12 families.
The process includes:
• Individualized learning and preparation for a culminating ritual;
• Group learning and social action;
• Co-creation and facilitation of culminating B Mitzva ceremony;
• Optional adult and family learning programs.
DIVERSITY: We work with the full, diverse spectrum of family types, welcoming each unique background and need. We invite you to join other families navigating similar journeys and to become part of the growing Lab/Shul community as part of this process.
PERSONAL TRAINING: Raising the Bar (RTB) matches each family with qualified personal trainers who work with the B Mitzva tween and with other family members over a 13-18 month period to help craft and lead the public B Mitzva celebration.
MAVEN METHOD: Core to the RTB curriculum is our signature pedagogy, the Storahtelling Maven Method™, recognized worldwide as a pioneering model for the integration of the sacred into the modern secular marketplace of ideas. This creative curriculum fuses Judaic study, creative thinking and performance techniques, offering B Mitzva tweens, their families and communities a deeper engagement with Judaism’s core values, master narratives and essential learning tools.
JUSTICE CLUB: In addition to individual learning, the B Mitzva tweens participate in monthly hands-on learning and action sessions that serve the wider community and explore ways to help others and improve the world. The Justice Club continues past the B Mitzva ritual to deepen commitment to community service and social change.
PARENT SALONS: B Mitzva is a family affair – everyone is coming of age. The RTB parents are invited to join our spiritual leader for a series of conversations that accompany the process and enable opportunities for sharing journey, raising questions and deepening connections.
CUSTOMIZED CEREMONY: The B Mitzva ceremonies are led by one of Lab/Shul’s spiritual leadership team and take place in site-specific venues per each family’s choice, providing a creative and personalized approach that speaks to the unique circumstances of each celebration.
Raising the Bar
Signature Methodology and Curriculum
Raising the Bar enables B Mitzva students to develop and deliver a unique “maven” program during their B Mitzva Celebration, re-framing the learning process from memorization to interpretation and investigation of the relevance of Torah and Jewish values to their contemporary reality.
The program is designed to invite B Mitzva students and their families to make personal meaning of the narratives and rituals of this family celebration.
Lab/Shul works with tweens and families of all background and Judaic literacy levels to ensure that both prep/study process and the celebration of the event reflect the values, needs and priorities of each family, as families perform and share this most significant religious and cultural milestone. An integral part of the RTB process, each student will embark on a personal project, geared at social awareness, activism, and philanthropy. Linked directly to the specific Torah text each student will encounter, and suited to individual interests and abilities, this project will be shared with cohort members and will be activated near or following the B Mitzva celebration.
Lab/Shul’s 13-Step Curriculum, developed by top educators in the field, fits a flexible schedule and families’ unique needs.
The program, including training prior to and following the B Mitzva event, is comprised of three main content areas that prepare the tween for a lifelong meaningful engagement with Jewish life:
1. What’s your Story: Bible/Torah Study – leading to a dramatized public performance of Biblical narrative (Storahtelling Maven Method)
2. It’s About Time: Study of the Jewish calendar and life cycle events
3. Top Ten: interactive examination of Jewish principles and values
The Program includes various learning components, ensuring multiple levels of engaging for the entire family:
• One on one sessions with qualified RTB personal trainers (est. once a week)
• Family learning sessions (est. 4 times)
• Parents’ Salons with Spiritual Leader and RTB Cohort Parent (est. four times)
• Justice Club – RTB Tween sessions (est. 10 total – once a month)
Raising the Bar: Timeline
Step 1 – Introduction to high-level process and themes – Months 1 & 2
Step 2 – Exploration of Torah text and context – Months 3 & 4
Step 3 – Crafting personal perspective and ‘big idea’ – Months 5 & 6
Step 4 – Develop Translation and personal project – Months 7 & 8
Step 5 – Focus on liturgy and ritual – Months 9 & 10
Step 6 – Rehearse and Review – Months 11 & 12
Step 7 – Celebrate!
Step 8 – Reflect – Post B Mitzva event, focus on personal/Community project (Months 13-18)