2019-2020 Fellows

Meet the new LABA fellows that will be joining our exploration of HUMOR for the 2019-2020 season:

Charlie Buckholtz is ordained as an Orthodox rabbi, worked as a grass-roots community-builder-slash-rabbi of an East Village shul, coauthored a punk rock murder mystery, became Senior Editor of Jerusalem’s Hartman Institute and coauthored two books on Jewish thought. He is currently the founding director of a small nonprofit that takes Hillels through an intensive organizational redesign process. For three years he has been writing and performing standup regularly at open mics.

Charles Gershman is a Midwest-raised playwright/screenwriter, a 2018-2019 Dramatists Guild Foundation Playwriting Fellow, and a 2019 Chesley/Bumbalo Playwriting Award winner. His plays have been seen / developed Off- and Off-Off Broadway, regionally, and in the United Kingdom and are published by Oberon Books. He is a recovering science writer.

Jared Hoffman is a Brooklyn-based visual artist practicing across many disciplines including printmaking, painting, installation and new media. Coming from a tech background, Hoffman applies computational processes to artmaking, attempting to explore ways that algorithms constrain and/or free us from existing social orders. Hoffman has shown in group exhibitions at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City, NJ and at the Detroit Public Library.

Mark Katz is a would-be journalist, ex-political operative, recovering copywriter, failed sitcom writer, occasional essayist, so-called “humorist,” itinerant storyteller, C-list pundit and a New York Times worst-selling author. But over time, he has come to understand himself as, first and foremost, a communicator. His is a career no high school guidance counselor could have told him about. As his wife, Jennifer, likes to say, Mark is a “role model for nobody.”

Anna Lublina is an interdisciplinary performance maker and educator working with objects. Anna is thrilled to continue developing their practice as a Jewish artist with the LABA lab this year and present their newest work, “Бабушка | BAb(oo)shka,” at the 14th St Y September 26 – October 5!

Rokhl Kafrissen is a journalist and playwright in New York City. Her work on new Yiddish culture, feminism, and contemporary Jewish life has appeared in publications all over the world, including Haaretz, Jewish Week, The Forward, Hey Alma and Lilith. She conducts the twice monthly Rokhl’s Golden City column for Tablet, focusing on Yiddish and Ashkenazi life in all its incarnations.

Liba Vaynberg is a first-generation American actor and writer. Her work has been developed and presented at Rattlestick, 59E59, Tank, Theater Row, Dixon Place, Wild Project, Xavier University, Fault Line Theater and the Working Theater. She has performed at Yale, Williamstown Theater Festival, HERE Arts, CSC, CATF, La Jolla Playhouse and will be seen in The Soap Myth opp. Ed Asner on PBS All Arts. She is bilingual, so that’s not why her parents still don’t get what she does.

Ari Wolff is a Berkshire County-based poet, visual artist and educator. She has worked as a teaching artist across age ranges, designed curricula for after-school programs and summer camps and managed community arts projects. Her poetry has appeared in The Offing, Vinyl Poetry, Lime Hawk, Hinchas de Poesia, Tinderbox and Whiskey Island, among other places. Her artwork has been included in shows at Collar Works and Para//el Performance Lab.

Willie Zabar is a stand-up and character comedian from New York City. He has performed at the Brooklyn Comedy Festival, NYC Sketchfest, the 5th Borough Comedy Festival and the Nantucket Comedy Festival. He also performs solo musical improv comedy as Hymie Wilhelm.

Anya Hoerburger is Senior Vice President for External Engagement at Educational Alliance. She brings a personal approach to fundraising in over 15 years in development. She is a fifth-generation New Yorker, art(s) enthusiast, and culture curator. Anya is Chair of the Board of Planned Parenthood NYC Votes and a Director of the Board of Planned Parenthood NYC. 


Iris Bahr is a writer, comic, actor and public speaking coach. She grew up in the Bronx and Tel Aviv and has been shuttling between NYC, Israel and LA for the past bazillion years. They all feel like home and yet she keeps shuttling.

Ophir Tal, a proud Jerusalemite, is a trained facilitator of Jewish-Palestinian dialogue groups, a youth Instructor and a writer in soul. He was a music journalist in Maariv Lanor, a military correspondent in the IDF Magazine “Bamhane”, a journalist in Xnet, and is now the new Shaliach of the Jewish Agency and UJA Federation to the 14th Street Y. In the Shlichut, he aspires to tell stories by the art of the word, exploring conflicting narratives and perspectives.

LABA Buenos Aires

Mirta Kupferminc, LABA BA Artistic Director, is an Argentine multidisciplinary artist. Exhibiting since 1977, has had more than 100 solo shows, locally and internationally. Her works can be found at: The Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Contemporary Art Collection; Taipei-Fine Arts Museum; Taichung Fine art Museum in Taiwan; Ralli Foundation Museum, Uruguay; Holocaust Museum in Budapest; Hungary-University of Maryland; Library of Congress, Washington DC; Golda Meir Library, Winsconsin University, Milwaukee; HUC Jewish Museum, NYC; Southern Graphic Council Collection, USA (selection). In 2015 launched, and now directs, LABA-BA in dialog with LABA House of Study: a Laboratory for Jewish Culture at the 14th St Y in NYC.

Tova Shvartzman (Graciela Shvartzman), LABA BA Teaching Artists, is a licensed Sociologist at the University of Buenos Aires, and a former research professor in Psychoanalysis at University of Buenos Aires and University of Belgrano . She has a degree in Jewish History from Hamidrashá Haivrit. She is also a visiting lecturer in Masters on Human Resources at San Andres University, as well as a visiting professor at Tel Aviv–Jerusalem (Study groups – Lacan Seminars). Between 1970 and 1999, she held positions in the Jewish Community among them Director of the teacher education center Maayanot, director of Tzavta (Mapam-Hashomer Hatzair) director of UPIZ, Open University. She represented the Jewish Community in the Secretaría de Desarrollo Humano y Familia during the government of President Dr. Alfonsín. During the terrorist attack on the Amia in Buenos Aires she was part of the psychological help team in extreme situations. Conferences, among them: Madrid 2011- Jewish Community; Washington 2016, Library of Congress; Jerusalem 2008 Eitanim Hospital. She investigates the relationship between Judaism and Psychoanalysis. Poems: De Grietas y Entretantos (1998), En cualquier aquí (2018).

LABA London

Sarah Sigal is a writer, director and dramaturg working in physical theatre, devised work, site-specific performance, interactive theatre and new writing. Originally from Chicago, she has a BA in English Literature and Theatre Arts from Gettysburg College and an MA and PhD from Goldsmiths, University of London. She has made work for numerous theatre and non-theatre spaces around the UK and has taught at a number of British universities as a freelance lecturer. Her book Writing in Collaborative Theatre-Making was published in 2016 by Palgrave Macmillan. She was the Live Performance Programmer at JW3 from 2016-2019 and is a co-founder of the Change of Art Festival. Her project is a one-woman performance about her great-grandmother, Yiddish humour, emigration and bootlegging in Chicago in the 1920s.

Jacqueline Nicholls is a visual artist and Jewish educator. Initially studying architecture, and then medical illustration, she developed her art practice to engage with Jewish heritage, combining the Beit Midrash with the art studio. In her ongoing daily drawing project, Draw Yomi, Jacqueline is drawing the Talmud, following the daf yomi schedule. Her art has been exhibited in solo shows and significant contemporary Jewish Art group shows in the UK, USA and Israel, and she was recently artist-in-resident in Venice with Beit Venezia, and with Manchester University’s Centre for Jewish Studies’ project, 50 Jewish Objects. She co-ordinates Arts & Culture events at JW3 London, teaches at the London School of Jewish Studies and is a regular contributor to BBC R2 Pause for Thought. Jacqueline is currently earning an MA in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins, London, researching handwriting as a form of drawing and means of taking ownership of the text. Her proposed project, Making God Laugh, explores the Talmudic stories where God seems to have a sense of humour and doesn’t take everything so seriously. 

Learn more about our previous fellows: