What is Mima’amakim?

Mima’amakim is Hebrew for “from the depths,” the phrase used to introduce Psalm 130, one of the most poignant and eloquent creative statements of hope and yearning for God.  Founded in 2001 by students at Yeshiva University as a poetry journal catering to its student population, Mima’amakim quickly opened into the wider Jewish world, incorporating a larger and more diverse definition of “religious experience.”

By 2003, the Mima’amakim journal had evolved from a student run poetry journal, to an independent annual incorporating poetry, prose, as well as the visual arts, while the Mima’amakim organization had created an arts blog at mimaamakim.org, and established a reputation for hosting topnotch events and readings.  Mima’amakim’s mission is to assert that the artist whose life and vision are informed by prayer, learning and tradition has a creative contribution to make, and that Judaism gains from an encounter with artists who adapt the interpretive storytelling of the midrash, the yearning of the psalmist or the clarion call of the prophets.

Mima’amakim has become the nucleus for a community of artists that has continued to grow. And in providing a venue for unheard creative voices, Mima’amakim has amplified those voices, reaching a previously under-served audience. We have brought hundreds of people to venues like Bowery Poetry Club and Cornelia Street Café that would never otherwise have set foot in a poetry club, simultaneously bringing a religious sensibility otherwise absent from those vaunted stages.

In 2009, the organization’s leadership is committed to shepherding Mima’amakim into the next stage of its development, expanding its range of activities and its reach within the greater Jewish community.  We continue to be based in the Washington Heights section of upper Manhattan in New York City, while at the same time maintaining a global network that includes members and contributors from places as diverse as Canada, Israel, China, New Mexico, Ghana and Los Angeles.