Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie and Lab/Shul interviewed by Chronicle of Philanthropy.

They work together every day, but in November staff members at Lab/Shul, a Jewish congregation and nonprofit, stood divided at dueling protests on the streets of Washington, D.C. One was a march for a ceasefire; the other, a rally for Israel.

When Lab/Shul’s employees returned to work, they agreed to hear each other out in one of many tough conversations the group’s leaders held since the Israel-Hamas War began.

“We are walking on eggshells sometimes — but there’s also a sense of respect,” said Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie, co-founder of Lab/Shul, which got its start as an experimental theater troupe and now hosts “God-optional” pop-up spiritual events in New York City.

He says diversity of thought has always been core to the group’s mission, but “when push comes to shove — and we have been in push, shove, and worse these past six months — that’s a hard talk to walk.”

One sign of the tensions nonprofit staff members feel: Few of the over a dozen charity representatives contacted for this article were willing to go on the record about their experience.

“I’ve been accused of everything and anything so far,” said Lau-Lavie. “For not doing enough for the hostages. For not doing enough for Gaza. How dare I stand on both sides?”

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