LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture is a program of the 14th Street Y that uses classic Jewish texts to inspire the creation of art, dialogue and study.
Part of LABA is the House of Study, an artist fellowship program for which around 10 culture-makers, a mix of visual artists, writers, dancers, musicians, actors and others, are brought together to study classic Jewish texts in a non-religious, open-minded setting. The fellows use the study to inspire work which is featured on this website and in our series of LABAlive and LABA Fest events and performances. Every year LABA focuses its study around a theme. Previous themes include Paradise, Eros, Blueprint, Eat, Mother, Time, Beauty, Other, and Humor. This year’s theme is CHOSEN.
LABA will now put out a call for applicants in early fall for the following year’s fellows and will announce the cohort by mid December. For more on our process, click here.
Our goal at LABA is to present Judaism’s rich literary and intellectual tradition in a free and creative setting, so that these stories and ideas spark new thought and art. The creative output from our House of Study pushes the boundaries of what Jewish art can be and what Jewish texts can teach.
LABA was founded in 2007 by Stephen Hazan Arnoff, the former executive director of the 14th Street Y, writer and teacher Basmat Hazan Arnoff and artist Anat Litwin.
LABA received an inaugural CANVAS Grant in 2019.
For more information contact Director of LABA NY Laura Beatrix Newmark, at lnewmark@14streetY.org.
Find out more about what LABA fellows past and present are up to on our Facebook page.
Find press coverage of LABA here.
Laura Beatrix Newmark, Director of LABA NY
Laura Beatrix Newmark was born in Cincinnati and has called New York City her home for two and a half decades. She completed a LABA Fellowship in the 2016-17 season OTHER with her project Hannah and Her Sisters about the feelings of otherness becoming a mother. Laura’s work in the intersection of the arts, media, activism, community building and Jewish programming spans two decades. She quoted a young stand-up named Jay Leno at her bat mitzvah, watched every episode of The Jon Stewart Show and then snuck into a comedy club to tell him she was Jewish, and eventually managed a roster of stand-ups and improv artists. Laura has recently been Momager to her 6 year old artist son Milo and his series Portraits by Milo which raises money for grassroots political and non profit organizations. Laura holds a BA from Barnard College and lives in Brooklyn with sons Elias Pablo and aforementioned Milo Liev (14th Street Y graduates), and husband Matt, a lapsed professional juggler.
Ronit Muszkatblit, Senior Director of Arts + Culture + LABA Global
Ronit Muszkatblit was born in Germany and raised in Israel. She is a theater director and the founding member of woken’glaicer theater company and Operatzia as well as a member of posttheater ny/berlin. Ronit curates and directs in various capacities with a focus on opera, theater and multi disciplinary events. Her most recent directing credits include all the LABALive events and the operas “SPHINX” (Culturemart HERE) and “3WEEKS” (MAP grant, 14th Street Y) both by Yoav Gal. Her most recent theater credits include: “Hanna and the Moonlit Dress” by Itzchak D’miel (14th Street Y), “Nature of Captivity” by Mathew Paul Elmos (Mabou Mines Suite @ PS 122), “Cantaloupe” by Gina Bonati (Boston ); “ON ART,” an adaptation of “Art” by Yasmina Reza (Rohkunst Bau, Berlin); “It is said the men are over in the steel tower” by Hideo Tsuchida,(TBG Theater, NYC); Struwwelmensch (Rohkunst Bau Festival, Berlin);) “Matchmaker Matchmaker” (Stadts Bank Berlin); “Quartet” by Heiner Müller (Westbeth Theater, NYC); “The Child Dreams” by Hanoch Levin (Staged Reading 59E59, NYC). Ronit received her MFA in directing from the Actors Studio Drama School and trained at La Mama Umbria (Italy) and with Siti Company.
Ruby Namdar, Resident Scholar
Ruby Namdar is an Israeli-American author born and raised in Jerusalem to a family of Iranian-Jewish heritage. His latest novel The Ruined House (2013) won the Sapir Prize, Israel’s most prestigious literary award. The English edition of The Ruined House (translated by Hillel Halkin) was published in the US by Harper Collins in November 2017. The French edition of the novel (translated by Sarah Tardy) was published in September 2018 by Belfond, and was nominated for the Prix du premier roman étranger 2018. He currently lives in NYC with his wife and two daughters, and teaches Jewish literature, focusing on Biblical and Talmudic narrative.
Rabbi Galit Cohen-Kedem, Guest Lecturer
Rabbi Galit Cohen-Kedem, 44, is married to Adar and mother of Hodaya, Uri & Ivri. Born in New York and raised in Tel Aviv, Galit is the founder and Rabbi [ordained Nov. 2014] of the congregation in the city of Holon named Kodesh VeChol. This young congregation, composed mostly of young families, also founded the first Reform affiliated kindergarten and TALI school in the city. She received her BA in Hebrew Language and Hebrew Literature, focusing on Midrash, from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and her MA in Gender Studies, focusing on feminist readings of Jewish texts from Bar Ilan University.
Jake Marmer, LABA East Bay Scholar/2019-2020 LABA Fellow
Jake Marmer is a poet, performer, and educator. He is the author of three poetry collections: Cosmic Diaspora (Station Hill Press, 2020), as well as The Neighbor Out of Sound (2018) and Jazz Talmud (2012), both from The Sheep Meadow Press. He also released two klez-jazz-poetry records: Purple Tentacles of Thought and Desire (2020, with Cosmic Diaspora Trio), and Hermeneutic Stomp (Blue Fringe Music, 2013). Jake is the poetry critic for Tablet Magazine. Born in the provincial steppes of Ukraine, in a city that was renamed four times in the past 100 years, Jake lives in the Bay Area.
Rabbi Jessica Kate Meyer, LABA East Bay Guest Lecturer
Jessica Kate Meyer is a rabbi, vocalist, and storyteller, and serves as Rabbi-Hazzan of The Kitchen in San Francisco. Previously, she was a rabbi and music director at Romemu in NYC.
Kendell Pinkney, LABA Rabbinic Scholar
Kendell Pinkney is a Brooklyn-based Jewish educator, theatre writer and rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He was a LABA Fellow in the 2016-2017 season of BEAUTY.
Tova Schwartzman, LABA Buenos Aires Scholar
GRACIELA SHVARTZMAN (TOVA) has a degree in Sociology from the University of Buenos Aires, and a degree in Jewish History from the Institute of Jewish Sciences of Buenos Aires. She has been a university teacher in Psychoanalysis in the University of Buenos Aires, and others Universities, She has held positions of direction in the Jewish community in Argentina, as well as in national programs and the United Nations (UNDP). She has actively collaborated in the treatment of the victims of the attack on the Israeli Embassy in Argentina, and of the victims of the Amia attack in Buenos Aires and has been part of the DAIA Commission of Investigation on the disappeared Jews during the dictatorship. She has given conferences in Madrid, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, etc. and has written articles on Jewish culture and myths. She has published “De Grietas y Entretantos” (poetry book). She has made artist´s books (“En cualquier aquí”, “Evanescencia”) and still investigates this field. She has been part of LABA BA from the beginning, teaching Jewish sources.
THE 14TH STREET Y STAFF:
Kryssy Wright is the Production Manager for Arts & Culture at the 14th Street Y. Since relocating to Brooklyn she has designed and built sets, designed and hung light plots, stage managed, set up audio and video systems, production managed, tech directed, and swept a lot of floors. While in NYC , Kryssy has worked with the Ensemble Studio Theater, Columbia University, INTAR, Noemie LaFrance, PS122, Danspace, Abrons Art Center, and many others. Outside of NYC she went on tour with The Civilians. Currently Kryssy is the Technical Director of the Theater at the 14th Street Y. She is an Associate Artist with Third Rail Projects, whom with she was awarded a Bessie, Avant Media, and LABA. Her degree is from Bennington College.
Shoshana Torn is an artist & designer based in Baltimore, MD. This is her sixth year contributing to LABA as a graphic designer. Her current design projects run the gamut of international event branding, conceptual and end-to-end production for non-profits, and websites for emerging businesses and initiatives. Shoshana holds a B.A. in Art History with honors from NYU in addition to surviving six years of art school.
ABOUT THE 14TH STREET Y:
The 14th Street Y, a Jewish community center in the East Village, is a vital neighborhood resource that welcomes people of all backgrounds. We provide a variety of programs with a distinctive downtown point of view, emphasizing excellence, innovation, creativity, and a questioning spirit. We are inspired by tikkun olam, or repair of the world, in all that we do — a value that represents and renews the vitality of our Jewish heritage and its place in our diverse and vibrant community. The 14th Street Y is a proud part of Educational Alliance’s network of programs throughout downtown Manhattan.