Since Hevria Writer Emily Zimmer moved to Washington Heights just about a year and half ago, she felt a great desire to find a creative Jewish community. She met many folks who identify as writers, musicians, actors, artists, journalists, and poets. As a writer and a musician, she was looking for places for creative folk to gather and share their art. She was also looking for a safe space where she could feel like her full, creative self, judgement free. She began to recognize this need amongst those in her community as well. After attending a number of Hevria events in Crown Heights, she knew she needed to take the initiative and bring Hevria Uptown.
Emily began with something we like to call the “Shabbat-Friendly Open Mic.” This, like many other great creative events, started off as a feeling. Shabbat seemed like the perfect time to gather the people of the Heights together to share their writing – uninterrupted by devices at that. Emily made a Facebook event and invited anyone who she thought would have something to share. Emily and her friend Elana had the event on a Saturday evening in Elana’s apartment this past summer and were floored to have counted about fifty guests by the end of the night – about half of which shared an original piece of writing. Folks were able to open up and share from their hearts the writing that they usually keep to themselves – the stories they’d been holding in their hearts, and the Niggunim they’d kept between them and their pianos. Two of these events have been run so far and a third one is in the works.
The second creative event Emily hosted in the Heights is a Hevria classic – the Creative Farbrangen. This is a place where folks share their spiritual and creative selves in a vulnerable way through our art via a raucous farbrengen. We made this event invite-only to preserve the safe-space aspect of it. Emily opened up her apartment for this event in the spirit of creating an Uptown Hevria House — a home for creative Jews. By making homey spaces for the artists who attend these events, they’re providing support for artists to share their hearts and their work. With fifteen or so folks gathered around the table, we ate, drank, and took turns sharing the writing we had worked on including poetry, prose, fiction, and music. The results were invaluable and the second farbrangen is currently in the works.
It has become clear that Washington Heights can truly be a home for creative Jews. By creating spaces for creative Jewish folk to thrive and share their full selves, we help them to actualize and gain the confidence to grow as creatives and as individuals. Art connects us to each other and by sharing it with one another we’re doing more than just creating, we are building.
Originally from small town Ontario, Emily is a flourishing Jewish creative with a passion for music, the Torah, and Irish literature. For the past year and a half Hevria has been a home for Emily’s thought pieces, journalism, poetry, and musical ambitions.
Emily is also a singer/song writing who released her first EP, “Youth and So On” this past year. She enjoys convening others for the purpose of creative growth, and finds great value in community building and intentional gatherings.