September 10th, 2023

Why The Yoga Lab is Closing
During Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

Written by Jay Koh

For those who have witnessed the harassment that the Yoga Lab has received during the past 1.5 years,
you well know how much we value peace.

For any business to survive, there has to be a focus on financial stability. But for a business that’s as community-based as the Yoga Lab is, we have a moral imperative to do the right thing. And in this case, that right thing for the Yoga Lab is to stand with the Jewish community as it enters the holiest time of the year from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur.

Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year as well as the creation of the world. It celebrates the forging of a bond between humans and the spiritual world, and it is the beginning of a 10-day period called the Yamim Nora-im (“Days of Awe”).

The tenth day is Yom Kippur (the “Day of Atonement”), a day in which forgiveness is asked for sins committed during the year. During Yom Kippur, observers fast for 24 hours and engage in prayers of repentance which concludes with a breaking of the fast.

Why should this concern a secular business such as the Yoga Lab?

Because no problem can be fixed solely by the parties involved. Repeatedly in U.S. history, we have seen this. In fact, the U.S. would not even exist in its current form without the help of France during the American Revolution. And other movements to erase hatred and bigotry – from feminism to the Civil Rights Movement – have shown the critical importance of non-persecuted people standing up and supporting those who have been wronged.

It would be so easy to bury one’s head in the sand and say, “It’s not my problem.” But I think we can all agree that the world has felt far less stable and more incendiary for the past several years. And we cannot ignore that there has been a significant increase in racial attacks. 

According to a March 23, 2023 study from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), 2022 marked the greatest rise (36% compared to 2021) and the highest level of antisemitic incidents since the ADL started tracking this in 1979. This marks a continued sharp rise in anti-Semitic attacks since 2018, according to the ADL.

Think about how wonderful it is on St. Patrick’s Day to be Irish, or to proudly proclaim being Puerto Rican during Puerto Rican Day Parades in Boston and New York, or to be Korean during the current K-Pop mania, or to be able to go to your local church in peace whenever you wish, or to go to school without the fear of being attacked. These are rights which so many enjoy, and which require vigilance to maintain. For those who are truly grateful for these freedoms, the rise of anti-Semitism is unacceptable. 

To be silent about such persecution is unacceptable. Why? Because history has shown that hatred and violence thrive in such silence.

When I reflect on all the amazing Jewish people who have helped me throughout my life, I think about how lucky I have been.

Whether it was one of the greatest minds I’ve ever met mentoring me in immunology or a key member of the Boston Red Sox helping my family during an incredibly difficult time or my friends during high school and college who encouraged me to dream or my students at the Yoga Lab who inspire me to be a better teacher or my assistants whose help makes the Yoga Lab function, without them my life would be far different and bereft of the happiness I have experienced and continue to enjoy. I am honored by their presence in my life and determined to honor them.

Therefore, positive actions are necessary, and so in addition to closing for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to honor the Jewish community, the money we would have made during that time will be donated to Congregation Sha’aray Shalom in Hingham to help them promote their message of peace.

We wish all of our Jewish friends a safe and peaceful Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur, but even more importantly we will continue to our commitment towards creating a more peaceful world, a world built more on understanding and encouragement to help bring out the best in people.

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