Philly Group Brings Together Artsy ‘Heebs’

By Tami Fertig

Published October 14, 2005, issue of October 14, 2005.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The Collaborative, an innovative Philadelphia-based Jewish networking group, understands what your mother might not: If you’re not into praying, meeting members of the tribe can be tough. Steering away from synagogues, the group brings together young Jews at local apartments, restaurants and bars.

Hence “Heebs in the House” — a literary and musical showcase held last weekend at a packed neighborhood bar in the increasingly hip Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia.

Headliners Amy Webb, editor-in-chief of a new interactive online magazine, Dragonfire, and Liz Spikol, managing editor of Philadelphia Weekly, one of the city’s two largest alternative weeklies, read funny, bittersweet Jewish-inflected memoirs. Event coordinator Aaron Oster cooed about his coffee addiction; Adam Blyweiss brought poems about Jewish dating; Matt Sutin read poetry about the baser instincts; Aryeh Shalom (the evening’s self-proclaimed “token Orthodox Jew”) belted out love songs for his wife; Josh Madoff put ancient Jewish melodies to Afro-Cuban rhythms (“Afro-Jewban,” he called it). By evening’s end, the Collaborative was planning on making “Heebs” a quarterly event.

“People don’t want to go to synagogue like their parents and grandparents used to do,” said Collaborative executive director Ross Berkowitz. Instead they meet for drinks, go bowling, knit and chat.

With a budget of roughly $110,000, which comes primarily from a private donor, with some support from the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, the group hosts weekly events for women, singles, couples, older sophisticates and now, artists.

The Jewish Artists’ Collective, as the Collaborative’s most recent subgroup calls itself, hopes to bring Philadelphia’s community of Jewish artists under one roof. Sure, little clusters of Jewish artists exist around the city, but until now there hasn’t been one central address. “Pre-Collective, I had no idea there were other Jewish poets, writers and artists living in Philadelphia,” said poet Jason Weinberg, editor of the the Collective’s online monthly literary journal, Grogger. “We are devoted to making creative noise,” he said.

A few get-to-know-you gatherings at people’s apartments got the ball rolling for a Jewish open mic this past August. The event featured poets, interpretive dancers, an impromptu jazz band and a performance by Death Tarte, a comedy duo that “makes Jewish moms lament,” according to Monique Powell, one half of the act. The duo, which also emceed the “Heebs in the House” event, delivered a song about being a Jew in the Deep South.

“It’s not all klezmer music and the Bible,” Berkowitz said. “There’s some cutting-edge stuff coming out of Philadelphia.”






Find us on Facebook!
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.