In this section:
Cohort I 2023-2025
Agnes Borinsky (she/they) is a writer, performer, and theater-maker based in Los Angeles. She is interested in the unintended transformations that become possible when the things we’ve planned fail. Her projects include many plays (The Trees, A Song of Songs, Of Government, Ding Dong It’s the Ocean), experiments in participation (Working Group for a New Spirit, Weird Classrooms), and fiction (Sasha Masha). She has made work in collaboration with theater institutions – Playwrights Horizons, The Bushwick Starr, Clubbed Thumb – and outside of them, in basements, backyards, circus tents, community centers, and online. Photo credit: Taft Mashburn
Sam Butin (he/him) is a writer/narrative designer. His work blends cinematic storytelling with game design to explore stories of revolution, gentrification, climate change, racial injustice, and more through the mechanics of gamification. His past projects include: 1979 Revolution: Black Friday (BAFTA, SXSW, Facebook Game of the Year), HERO (Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Festival Winner) and Fire Escape: An Interactive Narrative Series (NYFF, Tribeca, VIFF). He has developed original stories for partners including Google, Verizon, Eko & The Brown Institute.
Lee Conell (she/her) is the author of the novel The Party Upstairs (Penguin Press), which was awarded the Wallant Award, and the story collection Subcortical (Johns Hopkins University Press), which was awarded The Story Prize Spotlight Award and an Independent Publisher Book Award. She’s the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Japan-US Creative Artist Program, Yaddo, Willapa Bay AiR, Millay Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Her stories and essays–which appear in ZYZZYVA, Guernica, Oxford American, Kenyon Review, Jewish Currents, Paris Review daily, Glimmer Train, American Short Fiction online, and elsewhere–have received the Nelson Algren Award from the Chicago Tribune, and have been shortlisted in Best American Short Stories and the Pushcart Prize anthology. She is a writer mentor with Visible Ink at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and PEN America’s Prison and Justice Writing Program, and has taught creative writing at Tufts University, Vanderbilt University, and Sewanee: The University of the South.
Maya Cueva (she/her) is a Jewish Latina award-winning director and producer with a background in documentary, radio, and audio production. She was a Netflix Nonfiction Director and Producer fellow and was listed on DOC NYC’s “40 Under 40 Filmmakers” co-presented by HBO Documentary Films. Maya’s work has been featured on The New Yorker, NPR’s All Things Considered, Latino USA, The Atlantic, Teen Vogue, and National Geographic. She received a student Emmy for her short film, The Provider, and her feature film, On the Divide, premiered in the documentary competition at Tribeca Film Festival in 2021. She was also a Sundance Ignite fellow in 2019. Her most recent short documentary ALE LIBRE was acquired by The New Yorker and was selected to screen at several Oscar qualifying festivals, including Big Sky Documentary Festival, Hot Docs, Aspen Film Festival, and SFFILM. On the Divide broadcasted on POV on PBS in Spring 2022.
Laura Elkeslassy (she/her) is a singer, theater maker, spiritual leader and educator based in Brooklyn. Born and raised in France, with Moroccan and Israeli roots, Laura’s work focuses on reclaiming the North African Jewish folk and liturgical musical heritage from a feminist standpoint. In 2021, she released the multimedia project Ya Ghorbati: Divas in Exile. Developed in collaboration with Ira Khonen Temple, Ya Ghorbati weaves together the music and stories of Judeo-Arab divas from mid-century North Africa. Laura has performed music at countless venues including Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the World Music Institute. She was the lead singer fo the New York Andalus Ensemble for 5 years, where she started performing in Hebrew, Arabic, and Ladino in 2015. In the theater, she has worked at the National Opera of Paris the Venice Film Festival, La MaMa ETC, Here Arts Center, Target Margin, among others. As a spiritual leader, Laura has been active in developing Egalitarian Sephardi practice in New York, Boston and Paris over the last four years. Laura has taught sacred and folk music across the country, including at Yale University, Pratt University, and Hebrew Union College, as well as internationally at Segal Performance Center, Limud UK, and beyond. Laura holds an MFA in Acting from Columbia University and is a multiple-time recipient of the Rise Up! Fellowship, the New Jewish Culture Fellowship, the Rising Leader Fellowship with the Open Society Foundation, and a multi-year grantee of Brooklyn Arts Council. Last year, Laura was selected as one of New York Jewish Week’s 36 to Watch.
Liana Finck (she/her) is the author of several books, including Let There Be Light (Random House, 2022), an adaptation of the Book of Genesis with a female God, and A Bintel Brief (Ecco, 2014), and is a contracted New Yorker cartoonist. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Jewish Book Award, an Edward Lewis Wallant Award, a Fulbright Fellowship, a NYFA Fellowship, and a Six Points Fellowship for Emerging Jewish Artists. She’s had artist residencies with the American Academy in Berlin, MacDowell, Yaddo, and the Headlands Center for the Arts. She teaches creative nonfiction at Barnard College. She plans to use her time in the fellowship to work on a tongue-in-cheek etiquette guide called What to Do When (Random House, 2026), which will draw from Jewish sets of rules for living life, among other things. Photo credit: Jorge Colombo
Igor Golyak (he/him) is the founder and producing artistic director of Arlekin Players Theater and Zero Gravity (zero-G) Virtual Theater Lab in Boston. A global leader in the virtual theater movement, he is currently directing The Orchard Off-Broadway, a hybrid production (both live and virtual), featuring Jessica Hecht and Mikhail Baryshnikov. During the pandemic he conceived and directed WITNESS, chekhovOS /an experimental game/ and State vs. Natasha Banina, each of which became international virtual theater sensations, receiving multiple New York Times Critic’s Picks and garner a 2022 Special Citation from the Boston Critic’s Association for “pushing the boundaries of digital space to create a new genre of theater.” Golyak’s work has received numeros Elliot Norton Awards for The Seagull, The Stone, and Dead Man’s Man’s Diary, including an award for Best Director. His work also received This Week In New York Pandemic Awards (WITNESS and chekhovOS). He directed The Merchant of Venice for Actors’ Shakespeare Project, productions at Northeastern University and Boston Conservatory at Berklee, and has taught at Boston Conservatory, Boston University, Harvard University, Lesley College, Wellesley College, New England Theater Conference, the Russian Academy of Theater Arts/Middlesex University, Moscow Specialized Institute for the Arts, and the ARBOS Theatre Festival. Golyak is from Ukraine, and with his team at Arlekin, has led the #Artists4Ukraine initiative, engaging artists to share messages of hope, peace and solidarity, and raising funds for humanitarian aid for Ukraine.
Eve-Lauryn Little Shell LaFountain
Eve-Lauryn Little Shell LaFountain (she/her) is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. She is a multimedia artist, filmmaker, and educator. Her work explores identity, history, Indigenous Futurism, feminism, ghosts, magic, and her mixed Native American and Jewish heritage through a lens based media installations. She is a Sundance New Frontier and Indigenous MacArthur Fellow, was a Flaherty Film Seminar Fellow, and has received support for her work from the Mike Kelley Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation, Cousin Collective, and more. She has also been an Interactive Storyteller for Tribeca Film Institute. LaFountain was born into a family artists and raised in Sante Fe, New Mexico. She is a member of the Echo Park Film Center Collective. She teaches experimental film, photography, and portfolio development workshops at the California Institute of the Arts, where she was also the Assistant Director of Admissions for the School of Film/Video. She holds a BA from Hampshire College, and a dual MFA in Film & Video and Photography & Media from CalArts.
Antonia Lassar (she/they) is a Jewish comedian/actor/hottie based in LA. She’s best known for her viral TikToks about Jewish life, along with her solo shows “Post Traumatic Super Delightful” and “God Box.” Antonia has performed her solo work at The New Repertory Theatre, Yale, UC Berkeley, Smith College, and many more. Her work using comedy as a tool for social change has been featured by Marie Claire, Glamour, and Autostraddle. She has delivered many keynotes about the intersection of comedy and social justice, including at the 2018 National March Against Rape Culture. She’s currently touring a new Jewish standup show that mixes comedy and group singing to examine the uniquely Jewish tension between pleasure and obligation. Antonia is a member of the acclaimed UCB Theatre and performs stand up regularly in LA and at your mom’s synagogue.
Cara Levine (she/they) is an artist based in Los Angeles, CA. Using sculpture, video, and socially engaged practices, she explores the interactions of the physical, metaphysical, traumatic, and illusionary. She is the founder of This is Not A Gun, a multidisciplinary project aiming to creative awareness and activism through collective creative action. She directs Outlook Is ___ Projects, an artist-run project space in Los Angeles. Her work has been presented in one-person, group exhibitions, and participatory events in venues around the world such as The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco (2023), MOCA Geffen Warehouse, Los Angeles, CA (2020); Creative Tim, New York, NY (2019); The Anchorage Museum, Anchorage, AK (2019), Tenderloin Museum, San Francisco, CA (2017); Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, Israel; Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, San Francisco, CA (2012); and Kyoto Seika University, Kyoto, Japan (2006). Levine has participated in residency programs including Santa Fe Art Institute (2017); The Arctic Circle, International Territory of Svalbard (2017); Sedona Arts Colony, Sedona, AZ (2016); SIM Residency, Reykjavik, Iceland (2015); Anderson Ranch, Aspen, CO (2014); and Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT (2013). Levine is currently an associate adjunct professor in Fine Art and Foundations at Otis College of Art and Design and has worked in the disability arts community since 2011 in roles at various progressive art studios including the Exceptional Children’s Foundation, Inglewood, CA and Creative Growth, Oakland, CA. She organized the first annual Self-Taught Artists Fair with Public Annex in Portland, OR in 2017. Photo credit: Ashley Randall
Erika Meitner (she/her) is the author of six books of poems, including Ideal Cities (HarperCollins, 2010), which was a 2009 National Poetry series winner; Copia (BOA Editions, 2014); and Holy Moly Carry Me (BOA Editions, 2018), which won the 2018 National Jewish Book Award in Poetry, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her newest book, Useful Junk, was published by BOA Editions in April of 2022. Meitner’s poems have been anthologized widely, and have appeared in publications including The New Yorke, Oxford American, Virginia Quarterly Review, The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, Poetry, Orion, The Believer, and elsewhere. Other honors include fellowships from MacDowell, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the Hermitage Artist Retreat, Loghaven Artist Residency, Blue Mountain Center, T.S. Eliot House, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Bethany Arts Community. She was also the 2015 US-UK Fulbright Distinguished Scholar in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University Belfast. Meitner is currently a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she also directs the MFA program in Creative Writing.
Anthony Russell (he/him) is a vocalist, composer and arranger specializing in music in the Yiddish language. His work in Ashkenazi Jewish musical forms led to a musical exploration of his own ethnic roots through the research, arrangement and performance of a hendred years of African American music, resulting in the EP Convergence (2018), a collaboration with Klezmer consrt Veretski Pass. Inspired by an ethnographic trip to Belarus and Poland as a Wallis Annenberg Helix Fellow, Anthony formed a duo, Tsvey Brider (“Two Brothers”), with accordionist and pianist Dmitri Gaskin for the composition and performance of original music set to Yiddish poetry. Their recent release, Komopolitn, features their settings of 20th century modernist poetry for voice and string ensemble. A Hadar Rising Song Fellow (2021-22), Anthony has expanded his work into cultural activism through collaboration with the Workers Circle and as an essayist in a number of publications including The Forward, Tablet Magazine, JTA, PROTOCOLS, Full Stop Magazine, Ayin Press and Jewish Currents. Anthony lives in Atlanta, GA with his husband of eight years, Rabbi Michael Rothbaum. Photo credit: Adam Wiseman
Jessica Valoris (she/her) is an interdisciplinary artist and community facilitator based in Washington, DC. She weaves together mixed media painting, installation, ritual performance and social practice, to create sacred spaces. Her art activates ancestral wisdom, personal reflection, and community study. Inspired by the earth-based traditions of her Black American and Jewish ancestry, Jessica engages in metaphysics, spirituality, and Afrofuturism in her work. her art is both balm and blueprint: mapping out pathways for the Black liberatory imagination and reviving recipes for collective care. Jessica collaborates with organizers and cultural workers to facilitate community rituals of remembrance and conversations about reparations, abolition, earth-stewardship, and more. Jessica Valoris is currently a Culture and Narrative Fellow with The Opportunity Agenda and a recipient of the Washington Award of S&R Evermay. She has completed fellowships with VisArts Studio Fellowship, Public Interest Design Lab, Intercultural Leadership Institute, and Halcyon Arts Lab. Iterations of her recent body of work, Black Fugitive Folklore, have been shown at the Phillips Collection, The Kreeger Museum, Africana Film Festival, The REACH Kennedy Center, VisArts and Brentwood Arts Exchange.
Frieda Vizel (she/her) grew up in the Satmar village of Kiryas Joel, the fifth of fitteen children. After an arranged marriage an young motherhood, Vizel embarked on a journey to find a new place in the world. Although she is no longer Hasidic, she carries with her the deep history and culture of her formative years. She has a passion for understanding human societies–specifically Hasidic culture–which she shares with a humanizing warmth. Since 2013, she has been leading thousands of people in small-group educational tours through Hasidic Brooklyn. She also runs a popular YouTube channel where she explores Hasidic food, architecture, art, technology and conducts intimate interviews. Her work is appreciated by Hasidim and non-Hasidim alike. She is the recipient of the 2023 NYC Women’s Fund for Media, Music and Theatre award. Her work has been reviewed in many major media outlets, including The New York Times, The Guardian, National Geographic, Brooklyn Eagle, Times of Israel and the Jewish Daily Forverts.
Netta Yerushalmy (she/her) is a choreographer and performer based in new York City. Her research-based dance-making is propelled by a passion for, and trust in, the body as a site of ineluctable knowledge. Her work is aesthetically and ethically committed to generating questions, rather than answers. Recognized with a 2022 United States Artists Fellowship, Yerushalmy was also awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Princeton Arts Fellowship, as well as fellowships from the New York Public Library, Center for Ballet and the Arts, New York City Center, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, National Dance Project, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and New York Foundation for the Arts. Her work has been presented by venues such as Jacob’s Pillow, Joyce Theater, American Dance Festival, New York Live Arts, Hebbel am Ufer, PEAK Performances, Wexner, and the Guggenheim Museum, to name a few. She received development support from organizations including Baryshnikov Arts Center, Watermill Center, Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography, and Bogliasco Foundation. Netta works across genres and disciplines: she contributed to sculptor Josiah McElheny’s Prismatic Park, choreographed a Red hot Chili Peppers music video, worked with cellist Maya Beiser and composer Julia Wolfe on Spinning, and collaborated on evenings of theory and performance at the Institute for Cultural Inquiry, Berlin. Netta has danced and toured internationally with Doug Varone and Dancers, Pam Tanowitz Dance, Joanna Kotze, and the Metropolitan Opera Ballet. She grew up in Galilee, Israel, and received her BFA in Dance from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she is currently on faculty.