LABAlive Programs

LABAlive III: Family Taboos
Thursday, November 30 | 7:30 PM

‘Ein Sof’
Melissa Weisz | Multimedia Performance

The Guardian of the Clan
Damien Olsen | Multimedia Performance

Circumcise Your Heart
Rebecca Katz | Comics, Reading

The Guardian of the Clan
Damien Olsen | Multimedia Performance
A multimedia piece combining sculpture, dance and live piano music,

which is inspired by Sigmund Freud’s ‘Totem & Taboo’ essay, Jewish texts studied during LABA Taboo Fellowship and dreams and memories from childhood of disruptive family events.

The sculpture is called The Guardian, it represents the link between taboo and totemism and it was systematically built as the classes on Taboo progressed.

The Dancer, Emily Marie Pope and Damien are long-time artistic collaborators; in this particular case  she interprets the concept of totemism and its link to Taboo as an obscure and beautiful ritual or ceremony.

Damien’s piano music has been also progressively composed through the year with a flexible structure allowing space for improvisation and working more as a soundtrack and atmospheric ambientation for the whole scene than a conventional dance piece for the dancer.

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.

Ein Sof’
Melissa Weisz | Multimedia Performance
New multimedia piece that explores the similar patterns shared by The Sefirot and Poly constellations.

Esther Hafner- Director
Danielle Alhassid – Projections
Chanan Ben Simon – Voice

Melissa Weisz is an actor, writer and producer 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.

Circumcise Your Heart
Rebecca Katz | Comics, Reading with Madeleine Joyce
Gather round for a bedtime story about the oldest continuous Jewish ritual—circumcision!

In this excerpt from her in-process graphic novel, Rebecca illustrates her son’s intimate bris. Far from connecting her to generations past and future, she’s horrified at her decision to hurt her baby that she just safely brought into the world.

Though this experience, larger questions of Jewish motherhood, masculinity, bodily autonomy, and belonging violently emerge. Why did she uphold this tradition while flouting so many others? Does her son need a bris in order to belong as a Jew? What of him is hers—and what of him is his own?

If we examine its biblical roots and cultural history, circumcision is really about identifying who belongs and who doesn’t. It’s about cementing an inside/outside status that cannot be changed—once you’re circumcised, you’re always marked. And like many parents, Rebecca wants nothing more than for her son to belong—to a people, a tradition, and a history. But by honoring a covenant with her ancestors, is she breaking a covenant with her son?

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

Arts + Culture + LABA + Theater Staff

Akia Squitieri, Director of Arts + Culture
Philip Trevino, Director of Production
Ronit Muszkatblit, Founding Director of LABA Global, Arts + Culture Consultant
Chanan Ben Simon, Director of LABA NY

About the 14th Street Y

The 14th Street Y is a vibrant community center grounded in the belief that contemporary Jewish sensibilities can be a source of inspiration, connection, and learning for the individuals and families we serve throughout downtown Manhattan. We focus on health and fitness, education and enrichment programs, and innovative arts and cultural programming.

We are committed to the development of the whole person, bettering people’s lives and strengthening individual and family connections by building an inclusive and sustainable community.

The 14th Street Y is part of Educational Alliance’s network of community centers in Lower Manhattan. We believe strong communities can transform lives. Our programs turn strangers into neighbors and provide New Yorkers access to quality education, health and wellness services, arts and culture, and civic engagement opportunities.

About the 14Y Theater 

The Theater at the 14th Street Y’s mission focuses on social awareness and change through big picture narrative. Inspired by works that welcome artists of all backgrounds, we place artists as the heart of our community and seek to create an inclusive cultural experience for all.

About LABA: A Global Laboratory for Jewish Culture

LABA is a non-religious house of study whose goal is to function as an international incubator for creativity and to push the boundaries of what Jewish art can be, and what Jewish texts can teach. Through thoughtful study, we engage with the stories of the Bible and classical Rabbinic texts as if they were new. We also fold in secular literature, music, and art to help us better see the timeless and radical elements of these sacred texts.

Every year, LABA selects a group of ten fellows for a year-long study of classical Jewish texts centered around a chosen theme. Through the LABA fellowship, fellows are provided an open and creative setting for the thoughtful study of Judaism’s rich literary and intellectual tradition. These creative explorations inform their art and ideas and are presented through live LABA events and online in the LABA Journal.

We’re seeking visual artists of all genres to submit for our 2024 Gallery Series.

The 14Y will select one artist or artist collective to present and show their work on a monthly basis, starting February through December 2024. Artists may be at any stage of their career.

For additional project and program opportunities with 14Y Arts + Culture: