Ronit: Portraits of the 14th Street Y


I find community at the 14th Street Y, with LABA, with parents of my kids’ friends, at their school, and my synagogue, Lab-Shul. When we go, it feels like a community. I feel understood, I feel inspired–I can be me. I always learn something new, or I feel like I could learn something new.

I think studying with the LABA fellows becomes a very special time in our daily life to have a place to meet artists who inspire you. When you study together, you’re removed from your daily actions. You have time to reconnect to inspiration. It’s also very personal–we share many personal stories. The response to text is a big window to your soul. Through this personal connection, you really get to see each other. You build friendship and a sense of belonging, which continues as people come back year after year. LABA fellows reach out to us when they want to create something, reach out when they want to invite us to come see things. It builds very organically, and very strongly.

It’s been 8 years since I came through the doors for the first time for a LABA session. Over time, my place and space here in the building has evolved and changed. In the last two years, my little one has been going to Preschool here, so it’s changed my involvement on a whole other level. I think one of my favorite memories here was when Patrick, the After School Director, who is also a comedian, was doing a “roast” of staff members at the goodbye party for one of our colleagues. Patrick made fun of me, but at the same time, I feel like it really honed in on how this can become a second home. You can always find one of my kids in the hallways–in that way, it just feels very organic for me to be here in all different aspects of my life, creation, work, and family time. It speaks to how important this place has become in my life.

Actually, the very first time I came to the 14th Street Y was about 9 years ago when a friend of my mom’s who knew the executive director at the time, said “You have to come see this place–it’s going to totally change. We’re going to make it into a theater!” We set a time for me to come in, and the night before, at 2:15AM, I gave birth to my second child. I made my husband email them to let them know that I wouldn’t make it because I just gave birth. I didn’t make it in for that meeting, but then a year later I came in to a LABA session for the first time. So it was kind of a missed connection, but a real connection.

The 14th Street Y has given me a place, a space, and support to create. It’s given me different ways of expressing my creativity–some of them might be in the form of directing and doing work in the theater, but also by bringing in artists and connecting them with LABA, thinking about ways that we can intersect and inspire each other, pushing different programmatic changes. It’s many different ways of being creative. Even just giving space for my collaborators and team members to find their place, and how they can be creative.

The 14th Street Y is real. We don’t create in a vacuum. There is a real community around us with real people who want to work-out, but would also come to the theater, that really believe in their responsibility to support the art and that it’s a crucial part of life. My life is accidentally intentional. I think having space to be able to create, to make change, support, is really valuable to me and important. This group of people here really believe in the same things.

I’ve been in the East Village for 18 years. It feels like it’s part of my DNA. Before New York, I was in Germany and Israel. I moved to the states when I was 24 to study, but really to change my life. Studying is the excuse part, the underlying imperative was to change my life. I met my husband at a class in the New School very soon after I moved here.

The fact that I am happy to come here every morning is very special. I do work that excites me, and it brings together all of the parts of me.

Portraits of the 14th Street Y is a photography project by Bridget Badore that tells the stories behind the many faces of the 14th Street Y community, including members, staff, teachers, trainers, artists, caregivers, families, and local business owners. Each year, the unique stories of more than 20,000 New Yorkers is woven into the fabric that makes the 14th Street Y a Downtown home for all.

Learn more about this exciting photography series here. You can also follow along and support the Downtown Stories on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.


Join us for eight days of Hanukkah celebrations here at the 14th Street Y! 

We’re also honoring the Jewish tradition of Tzedakah, which in Judaism is simply an act of justice and righteousness–the act of giving back to our community and those in need because it is the right thing to do.

We urge you to join us for 8 Days of Giving as we aim to raise $18,000 by December 31!

Your generous support helps us provide programs at reduced rates to those in need. No matter what holiday you celebrate, we hope you’ll join us in the spirit of giving this year to help us keep our doors open to everyone in our beloved Downtown community.


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