LABA NY, the first and longest-running LABA hub, is based at the 14th street Y, in the East Village of New York City. This location is rich in history, from Yiddish theater houses that used to dominate the neighborhood a century ago, to the avant-garde punk rock halls that were popular around 50 years ago. LABA helps keep that spirit of artistic innovation and rebellion alive in this century,
LABA NY was founded in 2007 by Stephen Hazan Arnoff, the former Executive Director of the 14th Street Y in the East Village, writer and teacher Basmat Hazan, and artist Anat Litwin. In 2010 LABA became more formalized under the helm of Ronit Muszkatblit, Elissa Strauss, and Becky Skoff with a curriculum, application, DRUNK night of study and wine flights, the LABAlive performance season, and an artists-based Tikkun for Shavuot which eventually morphed into “Into the Night,” the most popular downtown Tikkun in New York City. In 2019, Laura Beatrix Newmark took over as Artistic Director of LABA NY.
LABA NY gives culture-makers in one of the most fast-paced cities in the world a chance to stop and immerse themselves in a rich source of inspiration and a tight-knit community. Yes, New York is one of the most creative, and Jewish, cities in the world. Still, LABA scratches an itch. There are few other opportunities for culture-makers with any background to go this deep into the ancient Jewish canon and to be told that these texts belong to them as much as anyone else. When LABA NY gets together in a classroom at the 14th Street Y and becomes absorbed in a passage from the Torah or Talmud, it’s as if all the lights of New York have dimmed, if only for an hour, and all they can see, all they can feel, is the page in front of them and the people around the table wrestling with the words.
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.
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, Jewish community building 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 7 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.
Ruby Namdar, Resident Scholar NY, Senior LABA 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.
Ronit Muszkatblit, Executive Director of LABA, Senior Director of 14Y Arts + Culture,
Ronit Muszkatblit was born in Germany and raised in Israel. She is a theater director and has filed senior artistic and managerial positions and overseen the development and growth of LABA into an national and international renown organization. Ronit curates and directs in various capacities with a focus on opera, theater and multi disciplinary events. Her most recent directing credits include LABALive events.”The Magic Letter” (Haifa Theater festival - best play), “ Name Game” by Yehuda Hyman and Sara Felder (Zoom Theater Play), Hanna and the Moonlit Dress (Theater Row NYC). Ronit received her MFA in directing from the Actors Studio Drama School, trained at La Mama Umbria (Italy) and with Siti Company.
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.
2022 New York LABA FELLOWS
Elie is a writer based in downtown Manhattan. He’s the creator of the kids horror podcast The Creeping Hour (GBH Boston / PRX, 2019). His short fiction has been published by Knopf (IT’S A WHOLE SPIEL, 2019) and “Supernatural Tales” (#41, 2021).
To learn more about Elie and his LABA project go here
Chanan Ben Simon
Chanan is a vocalist, composer and a multimedia artist who was born in Jerusalem, and is currently based in Brooklyn. Chanan’s work combines voice, sound, visuals, installation art and new media. His work includes the TV operas “The Weather Channel” and “Fire Heart”, the albums “Toy Store” (2016) and “Party Tears” (2021) and many collaborations with different contemporary composers, orchestras and ensembles
To learn more about Chana and his LABA project go here
Dan is a writer, an editor, a leader in the fight against disinformation and hate in social media and an expert on representing your stories, your ideas, and your organization in the most effective way possible. Dan was the only Yale PhD on the writing staff of Sacha Baron Cohen and the only qualified soccer coach to have been executive editor at the Forward. Dan’s work has appeared in The New York Times, the Financial Times, and The Wall Street Journal.
To learn more about Dan and his LABA project go here
Layla Zami Zuckerman
Layla is an interdisciplinary, innovative academic and artist (music, words, performance). She is visiting assistant professor at Pratt Institute, a resident artist with Oxana Chi Dance, and the author of “Contemporary PerforMemory” (CUP, 2020). Rooted in her Jewish-German-Russian and Afro-Indian-Caribbean heritage, her work embodies the tragicomic aspects of our human existence in subtle and surprising ways.
To learn more about Layla and her LABA project go here
Nava is an Iranian-Israeli artist based in New York City. Our connection to the divine and to each other is the heart of her work. She has exhibited both nationally and internationally and received numerous awards including, The Terra Foundation for American Art” The Elisabeth Greenshields Foundation and Eileen S.Kaminsky Foundation Award. Her work has been featured in New American Painting Magazine.
To learn more about Nava and her LABA project go here
Lili is a trans actress and Yiddish cultural consultant best known for her work on Netflix’s hit series “Unorthodox”, the critically-acclaimed film “Minyan”, and the award-winning short film “The Binding of Itzik”. She is the past managing director of New Yiddish Rep, in which capacity she translated, produced and/or appeared in many modern and post-modern classics such as God of Vengeance and Waiting for Godot.
To learn more about Lili and her LABA project go here
Melissa is an award-winning filmmaker, editor, and writer who works with memory, family history, and loss. Her first film, the feature documentary “My Knees Were Jumping”; “Remembering The Kindertransports” was short-listed for an Academy Award nomination, seen in film festivals, museums, universities, and broadcast worldwide. Awards include a Fulbright in Vienna, and residencies at Yaddo, Millay, Digital Arts Studio Belfast, Playa, and VCCA.
To learn more about Melissa and her LABA project go here
Andrew has been working in arts, culture, and community engagement for over twenty years as a curator, scholar, writer, performer, and producer. With a background in theater, performance, and museum studies, he has organized exhibitions and public programs for The Brooklyn Museum, Electronic Arts Intermix, the Jewish Museum, The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz, Wave Hill, and other cultural institutions.
To learn more about Andrew and his LABA project, go here
Rachel creates an original theater for young people utilizing puppetry, and masks to explore content-centered on migration and the environment. Her pieces have traveled across the US reaching thousands of young audiences annually. She’s received support from NYSCA, New Victory Theater LabWorks, Walton Arts, Poway on Stage, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Jim Henson Foundation, BAC, and ART NY. MA Applied Theater, CUNY; BS Theater, Northwestern.
To learn more about Rachel and her LABA project go here
Dena is a media maker from New York. Her multidisciplinary approach spans theater, film, and video installation. Her individual and collaborative work has appeared at the Made in NY Media Center by IFP, 122CC, Brick Theater, Exponential Festival, Fronterafest, The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s, Judson Church, The Living Gallery, and Dixon Place.
To learn more and Dena and her LABA project go here
Renana is a Brooklyn-based, Israeli-born visual artist. In her works, she fuses together eras, continents, and modes of consciousness. She combines video, animation, and text to describe how emotion-driven processes are used to produce ideologies of rootedness and possession.
To learn more about Renana and her LABA project go here