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.
Drumroll please… or maybe, more appropriate – a whisper. we’re excited to announce that the next LABA theme is NIGHT.
NIGHT, in the Jewish imagination, is both a matter of time and a state of mind. Our days begin at night, the arrival of three stars is our first sign of tomorrow. Our calendar is lunar, our months and years obsessively coordinated with the waxing and waning of the moon. Our festivals are backlit by the orb at its fullest.
Night is more than a time marker, however. It is also a paradoxical psychological state, when urges too messy, too irrational, and too wild for the day emerge, whether through dreams or behaviors or habits or the thoughts that only voice themselves at 3 am. Night is obscurity, but it is also clarity. Night is freedom, but it is also sometimes cruelty. Only in darkness can some truths be revealed. The cosmos began with night, and from night the very atoms humming our bodies came. We can never know ourselves fully, as a person or a people, without a deep understanding of night.
This year at LABA we will explore the theme of NIGHT in the ancient Jewish canon. We will look at how and why NIGHT anchors us, liberates us, terrifies us through a study of evocative stories from the Torah, Talmud, Mishnah, Zohar and more. We will consider the role of NIGHT in the life of culture-makers, and the ways in which culture-makers are the “NIGHTS” of people — truth-tellers, tricksters, beauty-makers, and deep sea subconscious divers. Most importantly, we’ll have a great time talking, eating, drinking, learning, and laughing in the lush, fertile, free-flowing, romantic, super-serious, and endlessly playful environment of LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture.
We invite you to point your flashlight towards uncharted territories–places you might cherish, wish to destroy, or both– and propose new work inspired by what night brings up in you. All mediums accepted, and the strange and unconventional are always welcome.
After 14 years, LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture has embarked on a dynamic visual transformation. A new visual identity, the product of a process that isn’t just about a new look, but a reflection of the profound growth and expanding vision of the 14 year-old program. From one New York City location, we haveRead more
Malena Dayen is an Argentinian opera singer and director. She directed Firesongs at Chelsea Factory, Romeo et Juliette and Carmen with Opera Naples, Aida and La Medium with Forth Worth Opera and Dialogue des Carmélites at MSU. As creative director of Bare Opera she directed Maria de Buenos Aires, Don Giovanni, Heroes of NY and The Late Walk, which was inducted into The Library of Congress.
Alan Jinich is a multimedia storyteller interested in the extraordinary tales of everyday people, particularly emerging adults. He is the co-founder of the oral history project, Generation Pandemic, and has reported stories for national news outlets. Alan also enjoys experimenting in the world of sound.
Zhenya Lopatnik is a composer, artist, vocalist, and educator based in NYC. Originally from Ukraine, Zhenya connect to the audience by utilizing her cultural heritage combining knowledge of Yiddish, storytelling, and sand art. The song from her last project, Heim and Veg, in collaboration with the guitarist Oren Neiman recently won the 2022 Bubbe Award.
Yael Magnes is an award-winning metalsmith, artist, and designer. After being exposed to the art metalsmithing, she pursued her degree in jewelry design. In 2005 Yael moved to NYC and since 2010 has pursued her independent conceptual jewelry brand. She consistently questions the definitions of a jewel in her work, and explores a place where function and imagination collides.
Nechama Winston is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and works in NYC. Working within photography, video, and archival media, her work has been nationally and internationally. Winston is also the co-founder of New Poetics Publishing, an artist-run independent publishing house based between Bogotá and New York.
Kori Koolman is a multidisciplinary artist, performer, and art educator living and working in Brooklyn. Koolman graduated from the photography department at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design Jerusalem and holds a master’s degree in fine art from Rutgers University.
Rachel Cantor is the author of the novels Half-Life of a Stolen Sister (Soho Press 2023), Good on Paper (Melville House 2016), and A Highly Unlikely Scenario (Melville House 2014). Two dozen of her stories have been published in the Paris Review, and New England Review, among others. She has written about fiction for National Public Radio, The Guardian, Publishers Weekly, and others. She lives in Brooklyn where she is writing a series of speculative novels set in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
Adi Eshman is a playwright, screenwriter and Jewish educator based in Brooklyn, NY. Originally from Venice Beach, CA, his plays have been produced or workshopped at USC, Columbia University, NYU Gallatin, Los Angeles Theatre Center, Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, the Braid, Cherry Lane Theatre and The Tank. In May 2023, he earned his MFA in Dramatic Writing from the USC School for Dramatic Arts.
Elisheva Gavra is an artist, photographer and writer based in New York. Her work has been exhibited at the Jewish Museum (New York), and The Broad Art Center (Los Angeles), among others. She is a recent MFA graduate in photography from Columbia University, and a 2023-24 participant of the Interdisciplinary Art and Theory Program in Manhattan.
Ye’ela Wilschanski’s primary medium is sculpture, layered with performance and video.She creates transformative wearable items the artist enters into, suggesting structural shifts in both the artist’s body and the garments. Through her choreography and combination of mediums, Wilschanski examines the notion of functionality and corporeality in an environment she creates.