These Jewish Mamas Are About To Get Really Real

Writers from the Jewish Daily Forward, Tablet, and LABA will be getting real personal about life as modern-day mothers for our upcoming event: WHAT’S THE MATTER? A night of storytelling with your favorite Jewish mamas, this coming Monday at the Y.

‘How real,’ you might ask? Read these excerpts below. And then get your $10 tickets here so that you can hear the rest of their stories.

Two of my children have become bnai mitzvah, but I wasn’t seen as their mother on either occasion. My son became bar mitzvah at the very end of my life as a man; a few weeks after he was called to the Torah, I began living, for the first time, the female identity I had struggled to suppress since childhood. By the time my daughter was bat mitzvah, I had been living as myself for years, but though my ex-wife (I’ll call her “K”) and I had seen one another when handing off kids, we had never appeared together in public, as part of the same fractured family. Joy Ladin

I’ll always be a little envious of my mother’s ability to move straight to the hazy, hot center of worrying. Who doesn’t long to immerse themselves so fully, so blindly, in an act of love for their child? Our love for our children is a reckless one, so is not natural when they are at risk to worry recklessly? But I don’t want worry this way. I try not to worry this way. Because this isn’t how I want to love. Elissa Strauss


Over the years, I became increasingly concerned by the idea that Jewish status is conveyed through one’s mother. My mother didn’t identify as Jewish, and while there were clues that her mother (who grew up in Northern Italy) might have been Jewish, the truth was lost in the secrets that died along with so many during World War II. I will, quite simply, never know if my mother is halachically Jewish. Which means my own halachic status as a Jew-and as a Jewish mother, who can pass that status on to her own children-was ambiguous. Carla Naumburg

I felt like I was beginning to lose my mind. Every pregnant woman on the street was a personal affront, every baby shower invitation an assault. When Britney Spears announced her pregnancy, I ranted about it to anyone who would listen. I organized our schedule around my ovulation and measured upcoming events by what month I would be in if we were successful this time around. I stopped sleeping.  Judith Rosenbaum

LABA at the 14th Street Y Spotlight: Ronit Muszkatblit

Ronit Muszkatblit – Artistic Director

"Sanctify Thyself" by Yael K
“Sanctify Thyself” by Yael Kanarek LABA fellow

Ronit Muszkatblit, Artistic Director of LABA, began her LABA journey in 2009 as a theater fellow. She was drawn to the program because of its focus on classic Jewish texts and the chance to collaborate with artists from a mix of disciplines.

Ronit explains:

“Coming from Israel, I had not dealt with these texts since mandatory bible classes in school. In Israel these texts belong to the religious world and because of this many artists are reluctant to deal with them.

When I began LABA I was excited to study these ancient Hebrew texts again, which was a real departure from the artistic journey I had been on until that moment. It’s funny, but I had to move to New York to engage with my cultural heritage and feel a sense of ownership over it.

As we learned together, I couldn’t believe that I was having such strong reactions, explosive reactions, to these texts. Now, as the artistic director I look forward to bringing this powerful tradition to life for the whole community.”

Check out some of Ronit’s work as a theater director, here at the 14th Street Y:

Cantaloupe (LABA Arts Festival 2010)



Ronit is the founding member of woken’glaicer theater company and Operatzia and a member of posttheater ny/berlin.

Her most recent directing credits include all the LABALive events!

She also directs Opera: SPHINX by Yoav Gal (Culturemart HERE) 3WEEKS by Yoav Gal (MAP grant, 14th Street Y).  Recent credits in theater: Hanna and the Moonlit Dress by Itzchak D’miel (14th Street Y) Nature of Captivity by Mathew Paul Olmos (Mabou Mines Suite @ PS 122) Cantaloupe by Gina Bonati (Boston ); ON ART adaptation of ART by Yasmina Reza (Rohkunst Bau, Berlin); It is said the men are over in the steel tower by Hideo Tsuchida,(TBG Theater, NYC); Struwwelmensch (Rohkunst Bau Festival, Berlin);) Matchmaker Matchmaker (Stadts Bank Berlin); Quartet by Heiner Müller (Westbeth Theater, NYC); The Child Dreams by Hanoch Levin (Staged Reading 59E59, NYC).

Ronit received her MFA from the Actors Studio Drama School and trained at La Mama Umbria (Italy) and with Siti Company.