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Thanking All Mothers: Lab/Shul’s Let it Be Shabbat

Thanking All Mothers – Lab/Shul Let it Be Shabbat

 – Shoshana Jedwab

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Who’s your mama? This past Shabbat at Lab/Shul, a priestess ritual was adapted as a gratitude ritual for all our mothers: All of us called out the names of mythic and familiar mothers we wished to thank, as Ora and Rhona – two Lab/Shul moms and board members  gently fed a golden amaryllis a drop of water for each mother named. We thanked Eve & Lillith, Sarah, Ishtar, Vashti, Tamar, Shifra and Puah, Bella Abzug, Harriet Tubman, Golda Meir, Henrietta Szold, Michelle Obama and Zora Neal Hurston, to name just a few.  We then invoked the voiceless mothers, wanna be or childless mothers, mothers of the 300 abducted Nigerian girls and the Jewish mother inside us all.. With each mother and each nourishing drop of water, the kahal responded with the word: “Shachanti!” “I have dwelled!”. In this way, those gathered  affirmed that the Divine Mother, the Shechinah, dwells within all mothers, who are manifestations of embodied commitment to humanity.

We met at a commercial warehouse in Hell’s Kitchen, converted into a funky single family home with room for a traveling Tabernacle.  This was Lab/Shul’s first Shabbat morning out of the City Winery location – and my first time as a co-prayer leader. It all worked great. The theme of Mother Earth was at the focus of our Torah learning – bringing in the upcoming Seventh year of Shmita – letting go and releasing our hold on the land – giving THE mother a rest. 

How do we translate Shmita concepts to the 21st century? Can we challenge ourselves to let go of our high level of consumption, reboot our delivery system, and return to reliance on both wildness and planning.

We wrestled with the verses: Did the practice of Shmittah ever exist? How can we pay the bills if we leave the land fallow for a year? What would it look like if we practiced digital Shmittah? Or stop using oil? Can we do Shmittah alone? How can we build a hive mind that would successfully collaborate on such a venture? 

Amichai revealed that there would be structured opportunities for taking this commitment to Mother Earth within the Lab/Shul community in the coming months. Re-inventing Shmita will be Lab/Shul’s focus for next year. 

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I am so grateful for being invited to pray and play once again with the Storahtelling – Lab/Shul community. I have spent the past eight years as a teacher at the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute, a training program and community dedicated to transformative ritual, the sacred feminine, and the earth.  I felt deeply prepared for this ritual by my experiences at Kohenet.  I am excited that many organizations and communities share the values of interdependence and honoring creation. Through this Shabbat experience Lab/Shul  proved itself  to be a place for earth-honoring Jewish practice and innovative ritual.   Let it be! 

Shoshana Jedwab is an award winning Jewish educator, percussionist and emerging sing-songwriter of sacred chants. Her title track from her seven-song cd in progress is available here: http://shoshanajedwab.bandcamp.com/. Shoshana Jedwab’s website is: shoshanajedwab.com and the website of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute is www.kohenet.com.