This past year has been (a) _____ . I don’t know what pithy adjective or noun to place in the blank space, but whatever I would choose, it would be an understatement. How do you come up with words for one of the craziest years in recent memory? What speech could capture the lived reality of the preceding 13 months where we have distanced ourselves from friends, family and lovers, turned hand washing and mask donning into a religious ritual, witnessed waves of racial reckoning and nativist backlash, all while burying ourselves under mounds of comfort food while Netflixing-minus-the-chill. It is all so strange! It is as if we have lived five years packed into one. What are we to make of this past year? What will we carry with us into the future? How will we move forward when so much in the world feels broken?
According to the sages of our mystical Jewish traditions, this experience of encountering a broken world is not a reason to despair. Rather, it presents an opportunity to seek out and cling to the Divine in hopes of bringing about cosmic repair, or, as they liked to call it, tiqqun. This idea of “repairing the brokenness” feels like an apt metaphor for the challenges that lie before us in the years ahead. For that same reason, the holiday of Shavuot also feels particularly useful. Much in the way that we will need to engage in the hard work of putting our lives and societies back, Shavuot offers us a chance to repair our covenantal relationship to our Jewish heritage by burying ourselves in all night studying.
But let’s get real, only the most disciplined among us (read: nerdy) can spend an entire night poring over old texts in even older languages; even now as an almost rabbi, I can only handle so much. This is where the unique perspective of artists can help us turn an evening of nodding off over text into a night of creative and intellectual revelry (with maybe a light nap here and there).
This year, LABA will showcase its 6 international hubs and join forces with the Jewish Arts & Culture incubator, Reboot, and the Jewish Emergent network to present DAWN: A Cosmic Reunion—an “all-night culture and arts festival celebrating the Jewish calendar’s best-kept secret, Shavuot.” Through this unique collaboration, viewers will encounter the ritual-makers and soothsayers of our day—artists, musicians, comedians, rabbis, inventors, dancers, yogis, theologians, writers, and beloved LABA teachers and culture-makers from around the globe—as they seek to make fresh sense of this holiday at this turning point in civilization.
Join LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture, Reboot, and the Jewish Emergent Network for DAWN: A Cosmic Reunion, an all-night Shavuot celebration, from May 16 – May 17. Learn more and save your seat here.