LABA at the 14th Street Y Spotlight: Siona and Brooke

Hey Y members, you’ve heard about LABA, right? It is our laboratory for Jewish culture in which ancient Jewish texts are used to inspire the creation of new art.

One part of LABA is the House of Study. Every year we invite a group of talented culture-makers to become LABA artist fellows. This means that they get together regularly to study ancient Jewish texts with the LABA faculty and then, yes, use them as inspiration for new art. Come January, you will have a chance to see this new music, theater, dance, art and writing they were inspired to create in the LABAlive series which will run through the summer and take place in our theater.

In the meantime, we thought you might be interested in learning more about the 13 incredibly talented and creative culture-makers chosen as fellows this year. Today we’ll start today with fellows Siona Benjamin and Brooke Berman.  

Siona Benjamin

Siona is a painter originally from Bombay, now living in the US.  Her work reflects her background of being brought up Jewish in a predominantly Hindu and Muslim India. In her paintings she combines the imagery of her past with the role she plays in America today, making a mosaic inspired by both Indian miniature paintings and Sephardic icons.

Visit her website at

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Brooke Berman

Brooke_CompressedBrooke is a playwright, screenwriter and filmmaker who recently wrote and directed her first short film, “Uggs for Gaza,” based on a story by Gordon Haber. Brooke’s plays have been produced at theaters including: Steppenwolf, The Second Stage, Primary Stages, WET, The Play Company and Theater 7 Chicago and developed by The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, Williamstown Theater Festival, The Jewish Plays Project, New Dramatists, The Playwrights Center, The Womens Project and others (and in the UK, The Royal Court Theatre and the Royal National Theatre Studio). She’s written films for Natalie Portman, The Mark Gordon Company, Vox Films and Red Crown.  Her memoir “NO PLACE LIKE HOME” was published by Random House in 2010 and called “Highbrow” and “Brilliant” by New York Magazine’s Approval Matrix.  She has recently moved back to NYC after five years in Los Angeles.

Visit her website at

Check out an interview with Brooke here: