Faith Time: Lab/Shul Offers Alternative Kid-Friendly Yom Kippur Worship

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Happy Jewish New Year! With 5776 underway, the holy Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, is nigh. Looking for a way to observe the holiday but don’t think the kids will sit still for a long service? Been a while since you went to synagogue and not sure where your spiritual home is? Do the kids like arts and crafts, music and puppets? Then Lab/Shul’s alternative worship service may be for you and your family!

photo: Lab/Shul/Kate Glicksberg

What is Lab/Shul?
Well, probably not your mother’s Judaism, so to speak. Lab/Shul describes itself  as “an everybody-friendly, artist-driven, experimental community for sacred Jewish gatherings,” and the result is worship services heavy on music and performance where people can explore life’s big questions, regardless of where they fall on any religious or spiritual spectrum. Dedicated to “exploring, creating and celebrating innovative opportunities for contemplation, life cycle rituals, the arts, life-long learning and social justice,” Lab/Shul creates sacred gatherings that aim to nourish people’s thirst for meaning, connection, spirituality and community.

When they say “everybody-friendly”, they mean it: traditionalist, Judaism-curious, members of other faiths, agnostics, atheists, LGBTQ people are all welcome at Lab/Shul.

Yom Kippur at Lab/Shul
At the core of Lab/Shul’s High Holy Day worship services (the organization also held Rosh Ha’Shana events last week) is a fusion of song and liturgy with a full band led by performing artists and musicians. The theme of this year’s worship will be “Open Heart” with an exploration of how to make sense of life’s suffering with truth, courage, compassion and love.

lab shul dad

photo: Lab/Shul Facebook page/Kate Glicksberg

Just For Families
Lab/Shul knows that getting the kids to stay focused for a long service — no matter how musical, informal or spirited — can be a challenge. So organizers hold a separate 45-minute, family-friendly service (for parents and kids 13 years old and younger) at the same time as the main worship service.

Just for Kids!
This abbreviated family-friendly service is then followed by brand new, special kid-only programming exploring the themes of family formation and the cycles of the seasons with activities appropriate for each age group. In PlayLab, kids four and younger (and a caregiver) will fingerpaint, have storytime and engage in imaginative play; two KidLab groups (for kids ages 5 to 7 and those 8 to 10 years old) will find participants creating family tree art projects, playing improv games, exploring photographs and more. Finally, TweenLab for young people 11 to 13 years old, will create self-reflective artwork, play games and more. (Read more about the kids’ programming and workshop leaders here.)


photo: Lab/Shul

A New Space and Flexible Ticket Pricing
Lab/Shul brings its third observance of the High Holy Days to a new space this year, the New York Academy of Medicine. A landmarked building completed in 1927, the Academy is located at 5th Avenue and 103rd Street and faces Central Park.

The organization offers flexible ticket pricing with individual and family rates, as well as single event and seasonal attendance options.

Lab/Shul Yom Kippur, “Open Heart”
Sept. 22 & 23, with Family programming Sept. 23
Tickets: $50 and up
New York Academy of Medicine
1216 Fifth Ave. at 103rd St.

Has your family attended a Lab/Shul event? Tell about it in the comments below!

—Mimi O’Connor