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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Spiritual, Special, Delicious, & Sexy: Our First Sabbath Queen of the Season

It’s Friday night, I’ve got a beer in one hand and with the other I’m dancing with someone I just met 5 minutes earlier. This is not the “polite sway back and forth” kind of dancing, it’s the “I really hope I don’t spill my beer” kind. She had just walked into her first Sabbath Queen: Her Majesty’s Service, the first in our season of monthly pop-up Friday night ritual labs, without knowing at all what to expect. To be honest, neither did we.

We’re just getting to the last verse of Lecha Dodi, “Come My Love,” one of my favorite musical love poems of Shabbat (it’s just so odd, so full of intense personification and erotic allusion, mystery, magic…but that’s for another blog). Traditionally the congregation rises on the final verse to welcome Shabbat, but everyone was already not only standing but dancing ecstatically to an intricate improv jam from our team of all-star ritual musicians. Traditionally we sing for Shabbat to “bring joy, bring bliss,” but both were already palpable, practically humming through the air. Traditionally we turn to the entrance and bow, imagining Shabbat as a beautiful bride (or in Lab/Shul land, a queen) gliding in.

But as I look to the door to reenact this ritual I grew up with, that I’ve done hundreds of times without thinking, I see the entire room, all 100 some Lab/Shulers – young and old, familiar and brand new – who had gathered at Martha Graham Studio to try something totally new. It’s clear: the Sabbath Queen had arrived a while ago, in all her glory.

I take a long deep breath and turn back into our circle to bow. I bow not to what I hope will be, but what is – to the room, to my community, to the Sabbath Queen who had already taken her spot on the throne everyone had built amidst their dancing, their joy and bliss vibrating from their hearts down to their toes.

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Big thanks to the Council of Young Jewish Presidents for their generous support, Faye Rosenbaum and the gorgeous Martha Graham Studio for hosting us, OneTable for nourishing us with dinner, Susannah Perlman for the very open bar, our special guest Gabriel Meyer HaLevy , Dj Nat Rahav, and all our volunteers and ambassadors.

If you’d like to help co-create these incredible nights, please email [email protected] And if you’d like to find out more about Lab/Shul’s exciting new initiative with OneTable please email me – [email protected]

Don’t worry if you missed out on this one, we’re popping these up monthly. Save the date! The next one is November 20th. Here’s a printable list of all the dates for the year.

Looking forward to dancing, singing, eating, drinking, and trying something new with you next month.

Ezra Bookman
Program Associate