Amid the hand-wringing about the Pew survey is a lot of finger-pointing at younger Jews. Elissa Strauss says they just need a point of entry to get more engaged.
At this year’s LABA project, fellows who are food writers, artists and even a baker, study Jewish texts and allow them to influence their work. The results are fascinating — and tasty.
Manna, the unknown substance upon which the Jews subsisted in the desert, has been a subject of mystery and wonder to the Jewish people for many thousands of years. Last night, a trendy New York beit-midrash study group called LABA brought the question to the table once again as part of their year-long discussion of food and eating. When I spoke to event organizer and Laba artistic director, Elissa Strauss, she explained that Manna is a miracle and a mystery. It’s not what we think of when we think about Jewish food, but it was a really important part of the Jewish experience in the Desert.
The journey to paradise is not without its optical illusions. What is enchanting can be hollow, what seems trite may be the doorway to magnificence, and what does not appear worth understanding could contain all of the answers. When engaged in an active dialogue with the world, what was an arid wasteland can become a beautiful oasis.
The fellows at the National Laboratory for New Jewish Culture, or LABA, at the 14th Street Y have recently published the January edition of LABAlights — a space for writing, art, and commentary on Jewish ideas. May we recommend this month’s installment, edited by Sisterhood contributor Elissa Strauss and themed “New Edens.” The volume includes pieces on Bruce Springsteen and the Bible, Spiral Jetty as eco-art, and hikes of the transcendental variety.