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Featuring the music of Alicia Jo Rabins, live action puppet cinema by Zvi Sahar, a poetry reading by Eugene Ostashevsky, theater by Michael Bradley Cohen and site-specific art installations by Anita Glesta, Ghiora Aharoni, Tirtzah Bassel and Sam Holleran. Artistic direction by Ronit Muszkatblit and Elissa Strauss, production by Shayna Kreisler and Becky Skoff.

5.17.12 THE GALA: The opening evening of the Festival, featuring art, performances,
and teachings with food provided by Riverpark, a Tom Colicchio project and wine
provided by Quality Wines. This is a fundraiser event with profits going to innovative arts and culture programming at the Y. Tickets are $120. Begins at 7:30 pm. To purchase tickets for the Gala go to:

5.19.12 THE FESTIVAL: Come check out contemporary art with a Jewish spin.
Art, music and performances. Puppets, poetry and more. Cocktails. Dessert. DJ.
Begins at 8:00 pm. Tickets are $24. To purchase tickets for the Festival go to:

The LABA Festival is an annual event by LABA: House of Study, an inclusive beit midrash for
culture-makers at the 14th Street Y. This year the House of Study selected 10 artist fellows and
engaged them in the theme of BLUEPRINT, an investigation into the function of spaces and places in
ancient Jewish texts. The works presented in the Festival were created by the fellows in response to
the texts they studied together.

Please note: There will be limited ticketed availability at the door, so please purchase your tickets in advance. Cash only night of the festival.

344 E 14th St  New York, NY 10003 l 646-395-4322



Ghiora Aharoni “The Divine Domesticated”
A site-specific art installation

This piece is a wall installation of four mirrored phrases taken from texts we studied that relate to space/architecture—both the domestic and the divine. The first three phrases are identical texts overlaid in Hebrew and Arabic. The final phrase combines a traditional opening of an Arabic tale with Hebrew religious text. While the text of the phrases is legible in each language, the intertwined characters also form a new phrase in “Hebrabic” calligraphy. The phrases are:
His wife is his home; Bless thee for making me a woman; Make me a sanctuary;
Once upon a time/And God came down to see the city (and the tower, which the children of men built)

These texts inspired me to reflect upon the relatedness of the word “home” in Hebrew and Arabic—that they share the same root, that they are homophonic—as well as the secondary status of women in the sacred texts of these two languages. In addition, I wanted to address via intertextuality the complex domestic relationship between humankind and God.

The installation juxtaposes two large phrases above: sacred dictates about the relationship between man and woman, and God and his creations—instilled with hierarchical and patriarchal order. Their linear juxtaposition draws a parallel between the domestic relationship of a man and woman and God’s desire to dwell among his people (and by extension to make humankind his “wife”).



Tirtzah Bassel “TSA Chapel”
A series of paintings arranged in a chapel setting

TSA Chapel is an installation of paintings that explores the airport as a contemporary symbol of transit and transition. The images focus on moments of physical intimacy that occur during security pat downs or the way people hold their body while waiting in line or struggling with luggage. The installation juxtaposes the secular images of the airport with the structure of a sacred space, thus providing a context for the paintings that is both critical and contemplative.

I thought about the ritual spaces of past, the places where people went seeking transition, transformation and a connection with something bigger than themselves. It struck me that airports play this role in our contemporary psyche.



 Michael Cohen "Untitled"
Interactive Theater

An exploration of spatiality, height & depth through clowning, combat and the doggypaddle. Illuminating ancient stories in modern spaces, this project pulls us into both an experiential understanding of the text and a visceral understanding of our space. Be ready to laugh, gasp and maybe even get a little wet.

This piece attempts to examine the intricate ties between ancient stories, their respective spaces and our current spaces. By bringing the experiences of these stories to life outside of their original spaces, we aim to invite their deeper meanings and their metaphors into the life of our spaces. We are eager to play. We will examine how our spaces lend their own unique interpretation to the meanings and expressions of these ancient stories, and in doing so perhaps find a further understanding of our spaces and how our lives are defined by our spaces and places as well.

The three primary texts brought into this project are: The Tower of Babel, The Wild Space of Cain and Abel, and the Mythical Space of Noah's Ark.



Anita Glesta, “Watershed”
A large-scale video projection work

“Watershed: Fish on 14th” is a new video work that will be projected throughout the lobby of the 14th Street Y. The projection is of a phantom river of frenzied fish in a deluge of water, and references the great floods in the bible and the threat of flooding today due to global warming.

The river of frenzied fish presents a metaphor for our survival within the ecosystem of our planet and a forum to think about our city in a global context. This work will establish a connection between New York and other American cities through our shared histories as waterways, and look into the past when Manhattan was once home to many rivers and streams. Extracting and projecting phantoms or ghosts of what once traveled through New York's waterways, this visceral and interactive work will be an artistic semaphore about Manhattan’s (and other American cities) relationship to water throughout history.

This project has been inspired by the story of Noah’s ark.



Sam Holleran “Noah’s Arc”
Large-scale murals

With scrolling type along the ceilings of the Y's stairwells, fitness center, and hallways, I and writer Eugene Ostashevsky take a fresh look at the story of Noah. In direct commercial lettering they ask questions like: What did the ark smell like? What drove Noah to drink?

This piece was inspired by the story of Noah’s ark.

Alicia Jo Rabins “A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff (a work in progress)”
Live original music

This musical essay is about Bernie Madoff and the inevitability of cycles in human experience. It also questions the nature of our responsibility to one another.  The piece explores the place where esoteric mysticism meets esoteric finance and where ancient holy texts intersect with Wall Street. Underlying this piece is an attempt to create a blueprint for a sort of temple of finance, where spiritual wisdom coexists with the financial realitiesof capitalism.  

The piece is inspired by the desire to reconcile two apparently contradictory blueprints - the kabalistic map of the human body and spirit (the famous Tree of Life diagram, representing the sefirot or Jewish chakras); and the visual signature of the stock market and American capitalism, the familiar up-and-down graph.   

I was inspired by the Talmudic story Bava Metzia 59a-b in which Rabbi Eliezer, one of the most powerful and respected religious leaders of his generation, falls from grace and is excommunicated within the course of a single halachic debate. 



Eugene Ostashevksy "The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi, and His Parrot, Are Shipwrecked on a Deserted Island."
New poetry, performed live

A dramatic reading about (a) the Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi, and (b) his parrot, as they are (c) shipwrecked on a deserted island.

It connects to the theme of Blueprint because it is about (a) empty space; (b) immigration; (c) relationships; (d) indigenous people.

The project has been inspired by a Talmudic story about a Rabbi and his son hiding in a cave. "They would strip their garments and sit up to their necks in sand; the whole day they studied."



Zvi Sahar “Salt of the Earth”
Live-action puppet cinema

Salt of the Earth is based on Amos Kenan novel The road to Ein Harod, an Israeli dystopia describing the country in a post military coup. Using my Puppet Cinema concept – a format in which the audience sees the puppeteers working on stage in real time – I will bring to the screen the hero’s surreal and dystopian misadventure journey in land of Israel, while he is trying to escape from his home in Tel Aviv to the Kibbutz of Ein Harod in the Galilee.

When we read together texts, my mind turns the words into images. When we read the story about Rabbi Jose praying in the ruins of Jerusalem (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Berakoth, Folio 3a) , I immediately visualized this setting and the emotional effect was quick and sharp. It wasn’t Jerusalem of the past, though; it was the horrifying visual of modern Jerusalem in ruins. Though you’ll find in the show both urban space, domestic space, open fields and later on caves, ruins might have had the strongest effect on me and the strongest mark in the show.


Karen Loew, “Intersection: Babel”

Video documentary


Inspired by the "Blueprint” theme, this short documentary investigates the chaotic urban crossroads at the Y’s front door: 14th Street and First Avenue.


The video includes interviews with people on the street as well as community leaders to explain what is unique about this place. It also includes dances around the intersection, led by LABA Teaching Artist Julie Gayer Kris, to bring a healing grace to the harried spot.


Through the lens of videographer Cory Antiel, the documentary explores the alienation and fragmentation that have been part of the human experience since Babel.