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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Sometimes Size Matters: Lab/Shul’s Big Stage Stardom at URJ Biennial

Sometimes size matters…

As in – telling a story to 5,000 people with one’s image projected on one of those giant screens all over the room.. It just adds a sense of responsibility and magnitude.

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This past wknd, the Lab/Shul lead team headed over to sunny San Diego where the Union for Reform Judaism Biennial took over the convention center. Naomi, Shira and Amichai all led different workshops and sessions throughout the days but the main highlights were on Shabbat. 

On Shabbat morning, Amichai, who is a member of the URJ Faculty team – a group created by the URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs , teamed up with Shira Kline, and created a unique Torah Service – using the Storahtelling method to bring the last chapters of Genesis alive for all present. The end of Genesis is the death of Jacob and the blessings, or rather, riddles, he shared with his children on his deathbed. Amichai wrote a script in which not just the 12 sons – but also the 13th child – Jacob’s dauther Dina receive blessings. 13 stages were set up in the huge hall – with 13 Torah scrolls and readers – all reading at the same time. Four aliyot were designated to honor the four mothers, and in the middle of Amichai’s Maven style translation of the verses, Shira, in her role as Dina, stepped up to deliver her version of the story. Her gift, unlike those of her brothers, mentioned in the, was the gift of white fire – her blessing – the way of telling the story, what’s between the lines. 

It was electric, engaging, deeply moving and a radical feminist, inclusive and everybody friendly affirming message. People loved it. A lot. 

Later that night on the same stage, Naomi Less was part of the salute to the Women of the Reform Movement’s Centennial celebration – and rocked it with her song Shma Yisrael and several other songs with other stars of the Jewish musical scene. 

The URJ is currently the largest Jewish denomination in the world, and the Biennial is the largest Jewish gathering in the US. It was a huge honor for Lab/Shul to be front and center on the main stage, sharing what we do best and love most with a big crowd of Jews and those who love them – eager for more meaning, context and depth. So yes, sometimes size does matter – and impact grows in waves… Here are a few photos. We hope to have the video of Shabbat morning available soon. 


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