The LABA theme for 2017 -2018 is WAR and PEACE.

Conflict is part of who we are, it is not an external force that we can aspire to exorcise and be permanently free of. Conflict defines the individual, the social and the cultural self. It is not accidental that our civilization’s foundation myth, the Bible, specifies the brutal and indeed fatal quarrel between Cain and Abel as humanity’s first step as it emerged from the wholeness and innocence of Eden. But acknowledging the inevitability of conflict does not mean that one is to succumb to it and turn it into a way of life. Our culture, all cultures really, work tirelessly to provide us with ways in which we can process conflict and resolve it. It is not by the presence of conflict in our life, but by the way we deal with it, that we are judged as individuals and societies.

This year at LABA we will study a large selection of ancient texts dealing with conflict and its resolution. Using the story of Cain and Abel as our core text, we will also study the Biblical rules and regulations of war, and of the limitations these rules set on the triumphant party. We will study various epic tales of victory and defeat, focusing on the wonderful storytelling of the books of Judges and Samuel and seeing how our ancient sources can identify with both victor and loser. We will also examine some interesting stories about peace – such as the clever peacemaking tactics of Aaron the Priest as they are told in the Talmud, and the prophetic visions of the end of days, when the wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid.

Most importantly, we will have a great time studying, drinking and creating art together in the lush, fertile, free-flowing, romantic, super-serious and endlessly playful environment of LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture.

We are looking for culture-makers from any creative field. Previous fellows have included choreographers, performers, visual artists, directors, composers, writers, film-makers and bakers (though we are not limited to these categories). We encourage everyone from puppeteers and chefs to architects and tight-rope walkers to apply.

No previous knowledge of Jewish texts is required for fellows, though familiarity with these texts will not lessen one’s chances of becoming a fellow either. What is required is a desire to study these texts in an intellectually serious but non-religious setting. Through our study, we hope to engage with the stories of the Bible and classical Rabbinic texts as if they were new. We will also fold in contemporary literature, as well as music and art, to help us better see both the timeless and radical elements of these sacred texts.

Fellows are required to come to 12 study sessions at the 14th Street Y, which will take place on a weekday evening (exact day, to be determined), and a day long retreat between September 2016 to June 2017. Fellows will be required to make one contribution to our online journal and to present their work in process in one of our LABAlive events which will take place throughout the year. Fellows are required to have a monthly check-in with the Artistic Director about their work.

All applicants must apply to LABA with either a work-in-process or a concrete project idea connected to the theme of WAR and PEACE.

Our goal is for this project to be informed and inspired by the text study, which, we have found, happens on a much deeper level when the fellows have a concrete goal in mind. Of course, inspiration can sometimes lead to another direction, but approval from the artistic team is needed to change your project.

Join us as we study, drink, and create art together in a lush, fertile, free-flowing, romantic, super-serious and endlessly playful environment of LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture.  Applications are due May 21st at Midnight.