Program Details and Information
The Helix Fellowship takes the example of Jewish life in Central and Eastern Europe to explore wider, deeper processes of cultural contact, fusion, and creativity. In a world marked today by rigid nation-states and identities, Helix transports fellows to borderland spaces where minority cultures permeated one another for hundreds of years — resulting in beautiful, fascinating, and boundary-pushing artistic works and movements. Together, fellows examine the ways Jews and their neighbors lived, worked, and created together. Visiting these places where Jews once lived as pluralities or majorities — but live no longer — palpably shows the terrible results of insularity, ultra-nationalism, and hatred.
In 2024, fellows gather together in Southern California for an intensive summer retreat. There, they take courses in the languages, histories, and cultures of Central and Eastern European life. Fellows also learn and practice methods of mindful listening and discussion, building a community to support and sustain our unorthodox style of study, collaboration, and travel.
In 2025, the program culminates with our trademark travel experience to Europe in July, where fellows set out for a life-changing journey in the borderlands of Central and Eastern Europe. The cohort uses its prior mindfulness training to process the complex and interconnected histories they encounter each day.
Between residential components, the Fellowship creative community is supported by regular digital seminars in language and culture. Each part of the program is curated by leading scholars of history, literature, politics, and the arts, as well as emerging cultural activists and Helix alumni.
❶ The fellowship begins with an intensive week of workshops with artists, scholars, and activists.
Fall 2024–Spring 2025
❷ The community created in the summer continues with small group learning throughout the year in person and online.
❸ Helix Fellows gather again to form a supportive creative community.
❹ The fellowship heads out to the borderlands of Eastern Europe for three weeks of exploring the landscapes where Jewish culture once flourished alongside many cultures.
❺ Fellows return home to apply the insights and inspirations gained from the experience to their work.
open your borders
The Fellowship’s current geographical focus is the area that was once home to the majority of the world’s Jewish population. We constantly crisscross historical, political, and linguistic borders, working to understand the complex hybridities and connections that developed in these culturally diverse spaces.
Drawing from the great literary, folkloric, and political traditions of Yiddish speakers, we literally follow the footsteps of poets, musicians, and activists who drew inspiration from these very lands and cityscapes where they lived, worked, and dreamed.
make the past present
Over the course of this year-long residency, fellows acquire the skills and resources to connect personal histories to the present world of displaced people, immigrants, and exiles.
Fellows learn local languages, interview elderly residents about their memories of inter-communal relations, use historical maps to search for the remains of pillars of community life, and read literature while immersed in the physical and historical context in which it was written. In turn, Helix channels inspiration from our findings into new, creative productions relevant to today’s world.