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.
Chanan Ben Simon, Director of LABA NY
Chanan Ben Simon is a LABA Alumni, from the year BROKEN 2021-2022. He is a vocalist, composer and a multimedia artist, born in Jerusalem, currently Brooklyn based. Chanan’s work combines voice, sound, visuals, installation art and new media. His former works includes the TV operas - "The Weather Channel" and "Fire Heart", his discography includes 'Toy Store' (2016) and 'Party Tears' (2021) and many collaborations with different contemporary composers, orchestras and ensembles.
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.
2023 New York LABA FELLOWS
Mikhl Yashinsky, a meshugener Michiganer by birth, works as a theatre artist in Manhattan. These days, he often creates in Yiddish, the language of his ancestors. He performs in Yiddish (with National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, “Fiddler on the Roof,” the title role of “The Sorceress”); he writes Yiddish plays (lately performed at the Lower East Side Play Festival and New Yiddish Rep); he sings in Yiddish late at night and bothers his neighbors.
To learn more about Mikhl and his LABA project go here
Rebecca Katz is an artist and educator from Brooklyn, NY. She’s spent the past decade working in the Jewish social justice movement with teens through adults. Through community art projects and cultural organizing, she creates spaces where people can access their creativity and explore their connection to community, identity, and place. A creative facilitator with the Jewish Studio Project, Rebecca works at Lilith magazine.
To learn more about Rebecca go here
Jenny Pommiss is a Brooklyn-based choreographer, performer, filmmaker, and teacher. She studied Dance at Oberlin College and received an MFA from the Ohio State University. She has choreographed over 30 live performance works and has made 6 dance films. Her work has been presented in NYC, San Francisco, Connecticut, Miami, Philadelphia, Toronto, Germany and Switzerland. In 2012, she developed a dance program at the Grace Church School in NYC.
To learn more about Jenny go here
Layla Klinger is a hole maker, working with fiber, light and electric currents to investigate intimacy, erotic compulsions and beauty as merit. She created site specific installations for the art festivals internationally, exploring textiles, space and light through public engagement. They have an MFA in Textiles from Parsons School of Design, where they are currently an adjunct faculty Member.
To learn more about Layla go here
Hannah Epstein (AKA hanski) is a hybrid artist who uses the traditional craft of rug hooking and interactive technology. With an artistic practice grounded in independent game design and video art, Epstein’s use of textile remains the central medium where she pulls together a vast array of interests into a refracted reflection of our media saturated landscape. She is currently represented by Steve Turner LA.
To learn more about Hannah go here
Damien Olsen Berdichevsky
Damien Olsen Berdichevsky is a multi-disciplinary artist who throughout his life has consistently created art and music. He was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1961 to a Ukrainian Jewish immigrant family. He studied Psychology and Dance Theater at the University of Buenos Aires and at the University of Santa Catarina, Florianopolis, Brazil. Damien has continued to work in sculpture, painting, photography, video and music. He studied musical composition and free jazz improvisation with Raol Bjorkenheim. He also has performed at a variety of venues in the NYC area, both solo and collaboratively.
To learn more about Damien go here
Ben Nadler is the author of “The Sea Beach Line: A Novel” and “Punk in NYC’s Lower East Side, 1981 – 1991.” He holds an MFA in fiction from the City College of New York and a PhD in English from SUNY Albany. His short stories and essays have appeared in numerous publications. He lives at the very top of Manhattan with his wife and dog, and teaches developmental English in the City University of New York’s community college system.
To learn more about Ben go here
Danielle Alhassid is an Israeli multidisciplinary artist, living and working in New York. Her works involve stop motion animation, installation, print making and performance. She focuses on the intersection of memory, identity, immigration and the urban experience as her main subjects of investigation. Danielle’s works have been presented in various venues in Israel, the Netherlands and New York.
To learn more about Danielle and her LABA project go here.
Tusia Dabrowska is a Jewish Polish American artist who works at the intersection of storytelling, performance and media. Her collaborations have been seen in the US (BRIC, TAFNY) and internationally (PrintScreen TLV, AlphaNova BLN). She is the co-founder of Temp. Files, a video publishing cooperative. Tusia was the artist in residence at Signal Culture (2017), BRICWorkspace (2017-2018), BRIClab video art (2022-2023), and Wave Hill (2023).
To learn more about Tusia and her LABA project go here.
Originally from Tel Aviv, Israel, Rona moved to Brooklyn in 2012 with her husband and two kids. Living, thinking and dreaming in both languages and trying to balance multiple identities on the Israeli-American spectrum.
To learn more about Rona and her LABA project go here.
Melissa Weisz is an actor, writer, producer and consultant based out of NY. They are a native yiddish speaker having grown up in the chasidic community in Brooklyn . Melissa is passionate about authentic nuanced representation with their work often focusing on giving voice to marginalized peoples and communities.
To learn more about Melissa and her LABA project go here