about the composers

Michelle Auslander-Cohen 2010│ YizkorElokai
With a mother who devoted her life to teaching music in synagogues, and relatives at the core of Jewish Music Education in the Chicagoland area, it was “beshert” that Michelle Auslander-Cohen follow a similar path. Along the way she pursued opera studies, earned a Performers Diploma from Indiana University, and received numerous awards as a singer. Her first experience as cantorial soloist was at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation. She spent two years as the soprano in a high holiday quartet with internationally acclaimed cantor/opera singer Benjamin Warschawski at B’nai Torah in Boca Raton, and served as cantorial soloist for Temple Judea in Palm Beach Gardens, both in Florida. For the past five years she has been an Adjunct Voice Instructor at Florida International University. She has given numerous concerts throughout Florida and Chicago, in genres ranging from Broadway to opera, and Yiddish to cantorial music. She has recently discovered a passion for composing settings for Jewish prayers and poems. She is a member of the Women Cantors’ Network, the Guild of Temple Musicians, and the National Association of Teachers of Singing.

Aaron Blumenfeld 2010│ Song of Songs
Aaron Blumenfeld is a composer, author, teacher and concert pianist who has worked intensively in three widely disparate fields of music: classical, jazz and Jewish music. He received his M.A. in music composition from Rutgers University, New Brunswick for his research into early jazz piano and has published books on the art of blues and barrelhouse piano improvisation. Prior to his work in the field of Jazz, he worked extensively in the field of Jewish music as a composer, teacher, cantor and conductor of synagogue choirs. He has composed several large symphonic works on Jewish themes, most notably Ez’kroh: A Symphonic Poem and his Holocaust Memorial Symphonic Poem, both of which have been performed in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has also composed two Yiddish operas, Rachel and Pagiel & Bathsheva, and many art songs on Jewish themes. Primarily a classical composer, he has composed eleven piano concertos (three have been performed), as well as works for chamber ensembles and for solo piano. All of his original manuscripts are in the music archives of the University of California, Berkeley.

Rick Calvert 2010│Va Y’daber Elohim 2006│Kumi, Ori
Rick Calvert is a folk musician and cantorial soloist/temple musician who turned to composing modern settings for liturgical text in 1997. His compositions and performances reflect his musical roots in folk/rock and choral music. His inaugural CD, Journeys, was produced through the encouragement of Fran Avni at CAJE 24; a second CD is expected in 2011. He has taught music at the Temple Beth Tikvah Religious School in Madison, Conn. since 1986, and currently serves as cantorial soloist/temple musician there; at Congregation B’nai Jacob in Woodbridge, Conn.; and at Temple Emanu-El in Westfield, N.J. His Yis-m’chu was selected for inclusion in Celebrate Shabbat; his Shehecheyanu was selected for use at the 2001 ordination ceremony for cantors and rabbis at Hebrew Union College-Jewish institute of Religion in New York; and his Kumi, Ori was honored at Shalshelet’s 2006 Festival. He has performed extensively in the Northeast and was a featured evening performer at CAJE.

Seth Chalmer 2010│ Ve erastikh Li/Anah Dodi
Seth Chalmer grew up in Montpelier, Vt. and received a BFA in Acting/Musical Theatre from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. Acting credits include Professor Art /Oscar the Grouch on a national stage tour of Sesame Street Live, and various roles at Vermont and New Hampshire regional theaters. He taught acting at Stivers School for the Arts in Dayton, and was Cultural Arts Director of the Dayton Jewish Community Center before moving to New York to work as a Retention Specialist for the Center for Employment Opportunities, helping men and women returning home from prison to succeed in careers. Currently pursuing graduate studies at New York University’s Wagner-Skirball Dual Degree Program in Judaic Studies and Nonprofit Management, he also works as a Project Assistant for the Berman Jewish Policy Archive.

Susan Colin 2010│Healing Song for All
2008│New Moon
Singer and songwriter Susan Colin was born in New York City but is now based in Texas. She is currently Music Program Director at Congregation Kol Ami in Flower Mound, and sings regularly as a cantorial soloist at Adat Chaverim in Plano. She has been a guest artist in residence at synagogues and churches around the country, leading worship services and presentations on topics such as Adult Spirituality, Women’s programs, Healing services, and Musical Prayer. She was the founder and original director of the Flower Mound Coffeehouse, a live music, non-profit venue open to the public offering secular music programs. She has released three CDs: Shabbat Favorites, Prayer of the Heart, and Every Day. Her music has been broadcast on National Public Radio stations, Hospice Healing Radio, and internet radio programs. Around the world her songs have been heard at weddings, funerals, healing services and worship services. She has been a featured performer at CAJE. Her Y’varech’cha appears in Transcontinental Music’s Shabbat Anthology IV, and New Moon was honored at Shalshelet’s 2008 Festival.

Cantor Marsha A.Dubrow 2010│ Vatikah Miriam

2008│Hashkiveinu 2004│ Mah Tovu honorable mention
Marsha Dubrow is Spiritual Leader and Cantor of Congregation B’nai Jacob in Jersey City, N.J., giving her an ideal platform for creating and presenting her liturgical compositions, which she also performs at venues in the New York metropolitan area and beyond. She has composed settings of Mah Tovu, Hodu L’Adonai, Ki Mitzion, Tov L’Hodot, V’Shamru, Adon Olam, Halleluia, and Shema Yisrael among many others. Her work has been honored at Shalshelet Festivals in 2004 and 2008. A musicologist by training, she is a Resident Scholar in Jewish Music Studies at the Center for Jewish Studies at The CUNY Graduate Center and an Adjunct Professor of Jewish Music at New York University. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, with an M.A. from New York University, and an MFA. and Ph.D. from Princeton University, all in music, and also earned a Certificate in Yiddish Studies from the Columbia/Yivo Uriel Weinrich program. She has received numerous awards from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts in music, including a Composer’s Grant in Musical Theatre and Opera, and Folk Arts Fellowships in Hazzanut and Yiddish Song. A member of the Dramatists Guild and an alumna of the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop in New York City, she has produced on- and off-Broadway theatre including Band in Berlin, the story of the Comedian Harmonists.

Leonard Elliot (z”l) 2010│ ’Aseret ha-Diberot, The Ten Commandments
Leonard Elliot grew up on Chicago’s South Side where, as a young child, he began performing on the piano and as a vocalist. At the age of 16, he and his older sister Sibyl won the Morris B. Sachs Amateur Hour with a piano duet. After graduating from the University of Illinois with a degree in journalism, he served in the army for fours years in Panama and Italy during World War II. After the war he returned to Chicago to pursue a career in advertising, working at the Leo Burnett Agency for some 18 years. At age 50, he left the business world and entered DePaul University’s music school, later following his teacher Pamela Kimmel to the Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University to complete a BA in American Arts with a major in classical guitar. For the next 25 years he taught private guitar students and music appreciation classes throughout Chicago’s North Shore. With his wife Florence, he was among the co-founders in 1983 of Congregation Hakafa in Winnetka, Illinois, and he served as its music director for some 17 years. He passed away at the age of 89 in February, 2010.

Alisa Fineman 2010│ Mah GadluModah AniSalam, Shalom – Peace, PeaceYevarekhekha

Central California Coast-based singer songwriter and cantorial soloist Alisa Fineman was inspired as a child by a musical family and Jewish summer camps, as well as her wilderness experiences in the Rocky Mountains and Big Sur coast in college and beyond. Since then she has toured diverse communities and folk festival stages across the country while deepening her cantorial studies. Her newest CD, Closing the Distance: Poems, Prayers and Love Songs, features contemporary arrangements of traditional and original songs from the Jewish Diaspora. It is her first Jewish music CD. She currently serves Congregation Beth Israel in Carmel, Calif. Her songs have appeared in film documentaries Seasons of the Soul – Holistic Teachings on the Jewish Holiday Cycle, and Sulha California 2004.

Manel Frau-Cortes 2010│Shahar Avakeshkha
2008│ Mah Tovu
Born on the island of Mallorca, Manel Frau-Cortes is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and Gratz College. He currently serves as cantor at Temple Beth Shalom in Mechanicsburg, Pa. and teaches Hebrew at Harrisburg Area Community College. He studied classical and jazz piano, composition and arrangements at Ciutat de Mallorca’s Professional Conservatory, and Taller de Musics in Barcelona. He also earned a Masters in Hebrew-Aramaic Letters from Barcelona’s Central University and is a published translator and music scholar specializing in Medieval Hebrew literature. His career as a composer, arranger, producer and performer spans from folk to jazz-fusion and New Age. In addition to liturgical settings, he has composed soundtracks for several short films and music for theatre. His Mah Tovu was honored at Shalshelet’s 2008 Festival.

Dr. Isabelle Ganz 2010│ El Nora ’AlilahPsalm 113 2006│ Ha Lahma AnyaKe Rahem Av

Dr. Isabelle Ganz has had a long and varied career in many musical fields: pianist, flutist, folksinger, classical mezzo-soprano, cantorial soloist, avant-garde performer, master class and workshop leader, Sephardic music singer and instrumentalist, choral conductor and composer. She received a Fulbright grant (to Jerusalem), an NEA Solo Recitalist grant, and holds a DMA in Voice and Music Literature from the Eastman School of Music. She currently teaches voice at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas and conducts the Piping Rock Singers, a Renaissance ensemble based in Houston. She has recorded over 18 CDs of contemporary music (Cage, Berio, and others), songs by composers of the Holocaust, songs of the Gershwins, and international folksongs. Her New York-based ensemble, Alhambra, has released three CDs of Sephardic music and has performed internationally. Her compositions are published by Boosey and Hawkes and Transcontinental. Two of her compositions, Ha Lahma Anya and Ke Rahem Av, were honored at Shalshelet’s 2006 Festival.

Cantor Marcelo Gindlin 2010│ Ahavah Rabbah

2008│ Candle BlessingVe Shamru
Cantor Marcelo Gindlin, born and raised in Buenos Aires, now lives in southern California where he serves as cantor of the Malibu Jewish Center & Synagogue. In addition to certification as Hazzan and Ba’al Tefillah from the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary, he has two degrees in music therapy and has published several scholarly papers in that field. He has extensive experience as a teacher, composer, choir director, and performer. He has taught at the University of Judaism for the last six years, and has performed numerous times with the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony. In 2009 he was invited by the Cantors Assembly on two occasions to sing at Auschwitz, and also gave performances in Krakow and in Israel. In 2007, in collaboration with Shari Cohen, he released a CD for a new children’s book Alfie’s Bark Mitzvah. His CD Shabbat and Holidays with Cantor Marcelo and Friends contains Candle Blessing which was selected for Shalshelet’s 2008 Festival. His recording of Hine Ma Tov with actor Adam Sandler can be heard on the new CD The Jewish Songbook, along with songs by other notable Jewish performers/composers of popular music. He has performed with the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony, at CAJE national conferences, and at synagogues around the U.S. In 1986 he performed in Buenos Aires with Ofra Haza (z”l), and in 2007 he was selected to officiate at Kabbalat Shabbat on the occasion of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s visit to the University of Judaism (now the Ameerican Jewish University).

David Goldstein 2010│ Let Me Be a Seal Upon Your HeartArise My Beloved 2008│ Modeh Ani
David Goldstein is a composer of Hebrew chant and sacred choral works. His Song of Songs Suite for Women was premiered at West Virginia University. He is the leader of the Tikkun Chant Circle in Pittsburgh and a graduate of the Kol Zimra Chant Leadership training program led by Rabbi Shefa Gold. He was formerly Composer in Residence at East Liberty Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh. His Modeh Ani was honored at the 2008 Shalshelet Festival. He is also a business director at Pittsburgh Glass Works. He lives with his family, north of Pittsburgh.

Sylvia F. Goldstein 2010│ Eikha Ashir/How Can I Sing? 2008│ Mi Yodea Oz 2006│ Shehecheyanu honorable mention 2004│ Ve Heishiv LevShiviti
Sylvia F. Goldstein brings a classical music background and love for and knowledge of Jewish music to her compositions, which have been featured in the Annual Women Composers Festival of Hartford, Conn. In addition to composing, she has been a director of temple music, taught at community college, and directed a JCC choir. She is Piano/Keyboard Department Chair of the Hartford Conservatory of Music, where she teaches classical piano and theory. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., she studied at the Juilliard School of Music Preparatory Division, Cornell University, Brandeis University and the University of California at Berkeley. She has a B.A. and M.A. in music, and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Connecticut State Music Teachers Association, Women Cantors’ Network, and The Guild of Temple Musicians. Compositions of hers have been honored at every Shalshelet Festival since 2004.

Abby Bernstein Gostein 2010│ Lekhu NeranenaThe Blessing of Memory / ha-Makom Yenahem Etkhem
Abby Bernstein Gostein began composing Jewish liturgical music in 1986, which was the start of a long-term involvement with Reform Jewish musical leadership that has included youth group and summer camp songleading, choral conducting, music teaching, and leading congregations in song and prayer. She has served Union for Reform Judaism congregations as a cantorial soloist since 1994 and currently serves in that capacity at Temple Beth Shalom in Austin, Texas. She holds an M.A. from The University of Texas at Austin and a B.A. from Yale University, where she organized and led the first Jewish singing group on campus. She strives to create compositions that are both moving and accessible, with memorable melodies and contemporary harmonies intended to be easily usable by cantor or soloist, congregation or choir. Her works have been sung throughout the United States and internationally. Her CD Each Blessing contains her original compositions, including her 2010 Shalshelet Festival compositions, Lekhu Neranena and The Blessing of Memory – Ha makom Yenahem Ethem. She is a member of the Guild of Temple Musicians, where she serves as Vice President of Membership, and the Women Cantors’ Network, where she serves on the Music Commission Committee for 2011.

Cantor Rachel Anne Hersh 2010│Shalom Rav

Rachel Anne Hersh has served as cantor of Adat Shalom Reconstructionist  Congregation  in Bethesda, Md. since 1996. In addition to a life-long love of music and singing, she holds a Bachelor’s degree in music and Masters’ degrees in social work and Judaic studies. Her cantorial training includes private study with Hazzan Abraham Lubin, and in 2002, she was invested by the Cantor’s Assembly. She is equally at home with Jewish folk music, congregational melody, and classical hazzanut. She delights in serving a spiritual community that is both lovingly devoted to Jewish tradition and embracing of change and evolution.  Rachel has been heard in concert with both locally and nationally known musicians. She is also a rabbinic student with ALEPH: The Alliance for Jewish Renewal.

Donald Juran 2010│ Rise Up, My Love
Donald Juran has been a chorister and occasional bass soloist with countless choral ensembles, large and small, in the Washington, DC area for 35 years. He began composing in 1980 after two years of part-time study at the music school of Catholic University. In 1998 he founded the Mishkan Torah (Greenbelt, MD) synagogue choir, which he briefly directed. His works include psalm settings, liturgical pieces, a setting of the Ezekiel Dry Bones prophecy, a song cycle on poems written by one of his sons, and a Hanukkah cantata on his own text, which was performed by the Arlington (Va.) Metropolitan Chorus in 2007. Rise Up, My Love was written in 2009 as a 40th anniversary present for his wife and sung to her by him and their two sons at a family reunion.

Richard Kaplan 2010│ Kinah le-Hurban Gan ’Eden
Concert performer, recording artist, composer, educator and ethnomusicologist Hazzan Richard Kaplan serves Conservative Temple Beth Abraham in Oakland, CA and the Shir Hashirim Minyan in Berkeley, CA. He specializes in Mizrachi and Hasidic music, as well as in the relationship between Jewish mysticism and music. His three CDs of Jewish World Music include Tuning The Soul (1999), Life of the Worlds (2003), and The Hidden One (2009), and he has also produced recordings in collaboration with Rabbi Moshe Aharon (Miles) Krassen (Invoking the Seven Beggars) and Kabbalistic Psychotherapist Estelle Frankel (The Kabbalah of Chanukah and The Jewish New Year). His formative years found him immersed in Zen Buddhism, Taoism, Siddha Yoga and Sufism, and on the musical side, rhythm and blues, Classical music, World Music, Early Music, and jazz. A former college professor and choral conductor, he holds an MA from UC Berkeley in Musicology.

Jeremiah Klarman 2010│ Adonai OriKol ha-’AmimShiru L’AdonaiRomemu
Jeremiah Klarman began playing music at age four and wrote his first composition when he was six. He is now a freshman at the New England Conservatory of Music where he is majoring in composition.  Jeremiah is a graduate of  Gann Academy – The New Jewish High School of Greater Boston, the Rivers School Conservatory and the New England Conservatory of Music’s Preparatory Division, where he also studied piano and participated in  chamber groups. Jeremiah has written Jewish-themed choral, pop and liturgical music since 2008. His compositions have been performed by the Zamir Chorale of Boston and by Cantor Elias Rosemberg at Temple Emanuel in Newton. He is the inaugural recipient of the 2010 Generation to Generation Young Composer Award by the American Conference of Cantors and the Guild of Temple Musicians. In 2009, he received an ASCAP Honorable Mention for his orchestra piece, Festive Dance; in 2007 he received an ASCAP Morton Gould award for Dance Suite for Orchestra. His Symphony in C was premiered in 2009 by the NEC Youth Symphony and by the Boston Pops in Boston’s Symphony Hall (this performance subsequently aired on the radio show From The Top). He lives in Brookline, Mass.

Yosl (Joe) Kurland 2010│ Nisht Eyns/Not One 2008│ Der Meshiekh Vet Ersht Kumen

Yosl (Joe) Kurland took up violin in second grade in the Bronx and for years played only classical music. Later he learned guitar. While in graduate school in Chicago, he began playing for international folk dance and performed with the Balkanske Igre Balkan dance troupe. He was a founder of the Wholesale Klezmer Band in 1982 and composed his first Yiddish song, the title number of the group’s first album, Shmir Me, in 1988. His formal study of Yiddish began only after he turned 40, but he considers Yiddish to be the native language he didn’t learn as a child. Having grown up with traditional cantorial music in the synagogue, he realized that in order to hear it in rural western Massachusetts where he lives, he would have to learn and sing it himself. He serves as Ba’al Tefillah for High Holiday and occasional Shabbos services at two synagogues near his home. His day job involves printing ketubot and other artwork designed by his wife, calligrapher Peggy Davis, as well as his own photographic work. His songs appear on four albums released by the Wholesale Klezmer Band. His Der Meshiekh Vet Ersht Kumen was honored at Shalshelet’s 2008 Festival.

Judi Lamble 2010│Shema 2008│’Oseh Shalom

Judi Lamble performed in musical theatre and cabarets in her teens and 20s, sang soprano with the Chicago Symphony Chorus in her 30s, and made music as a featured vocalist with Minneapolis’s Temple Israel Nefesh Shabbat band in her 40s. A self-taught composer, she has turned her musical attention to composing Jewish vocal music. In the Twin Cities, her works are regularly performed by congregational choirs and others at Shabbat and holiday services. Her ’Oseh Shalom was honored at Shalshelet’s 2008 Festival, and it will be featured in the Spring 2011 concert of the Twin Cities Jewish Chorale, which she helped found in 2009. Also in 2011, she looks forward to collaborating with Israeli soloist Ronit Yalon in a Minneapolis recital of Jewish Art Song. Along the way, she obtained degrees from Barnard College and the University of Michigan Law School, married, practiced law, and reared two musician daughters in Edina, Minn.

View the bios of our earlier composers.

David Lefkowich 2010│Modim Anahnu Lakh

2006│Mah Tovu
David Lefkowich first picked up a guitar when he was nine years old and never put it down. Self-taught, he spent his early years in California within the Jewish summer camp movement as song leader. Through the years he has developed many musical styles, but has always stayed close to his folk and Jewish music roots. He is chair of the ritual committee and a lay leader at Congregation Darchei Noam in Toronto, Canada, where he regularly integrates his poetry and music to into services. With fellow congregants he formed the Nigunatics, a Jewish folk band that specializes in Israeli folk dance and Hebrew, Jewish, and Yiddish music.

Ira Scott Levin 2010│ Lo Yisa Goi 2004│ Hashkiveinu
Ira Scott Levin is a singing-storyteller, instrumentalist, lyricist, composer, and recording artist dedicated to making the world a happier place. A theater major from Florida State University, Ira has appeared on PBS Kids as his alter-persona, Uncle Eye. He has performed on both sides of the Atlantic including the Fringe Festival in Scotland, The International Jewish Music Festival in Amsterdam, The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, Paramount Movie Studios in Los Angeles, and as a featured performer for the United Way. His Hashkiveinu was honored at Shalshelet’s 2004 Festival. Currently getting established in the Hudson Valley region of New York, he continues to be involved in the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish community as a song leader, cantorial soloist, educator, and guest musician. He most often performs with his wife Julia Bordenaro Levin as The Levins Folk Pop Duo, as well as with their Levins World Folk Ensemble. All of his recordings can be found at and

Leonard Lightstone 2010│ Tefilat ha-DerekhSong from Shir Ha Shirim
Leo Lightstone was raised in Ottawa, Canada and studied piano, French horn, guitar, as well as classical and jazz harmony. He earned degrees in Engineering Physics, initially paying his way through university playing French horn. Presently, he works as a full time engineer and devotes much of the remainder of his available time to his second passion: composing music. He enjoys writing for small instrumental and vocal ensembles, employing techniques of modern counterpoint and methods of layering in his compositions. Much of his work draws on liturgical texts and Hebrew poetry, past and present, as well as traditional Jewish musical idioms. In all his compositions he receives support and advice from his family, all musicians in their own right.

Peter Lohman 2010│ Yih’yu le-RatzonShalom Rav
Peter Lohman was born and raised in New York City and attended Oberlin College and Ohio State University, where he studied Philosophy, Music Composition, Music Theory and Voice. His compositional output includes songs, choral music and piano music. Coming from a non-observant Jewish upbringing, he experienced something of a Jewish renaissance later in life and celebrated his adult Bar Mitzvah in 2005. Yih’yu L’Ratzon and Shalom Rav represent his first efforts in the area of Jewish liturgical music, and were composed especially for the High Holy Days at Congregation Beth Israel in Austin, Texas, where he has been High Holy Days cantorial soloist since 2003. He also performs Early Music with the Texas Early Music Project and other groups around Austin. He is planning a song recital of his own compositions and works of Gabriel Faurè in 2011. He has worked as a software developer in Austin since 1984 and currently works at Pervasive Software, a small Austin-based company.

Jeff Marder 2010│ Song of MiriamEl Maleh Rahamim 2004│Shalom ’Aleikhem

Jeff Marde ris currently the Associate Conductor for the Broadway musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Playing/conducting credits include: Wicked (NY and LA), Guys and Dolls (2009 Broadway revival), Shrek The Musical, The Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Cirque du Soleil’s “O”, and Beauty and the Beast. As a synthesizer programmer, credits include: Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Disney’s Newsies, Disney’s Aladdin, Leap of Faith, Beauty and the Beast (NETworks), Mask (Pasadena Playhouse), Shrek The Musical, The Little Mermaid, Cirque du Soleil’s “O”, and Le Reve (Wynn Resorts).  Composition credits include: Verizon Fios, Down the Barrel (ESPN2), and the Everland Theme Park in South Korea. Recording credits include Oboeist Keve Wilson’s release Pure Imagination (Composers Concordance Records, 2011), Harlem Spiritual Ensemble Sisters of Freedom (Arts Music, 1999), and Priscilla Queen of the Desert Original Broadway Cast Recording (Rhino Records, 2011). Jeff’s Jewish liturgical compositions have been performed in synagogues, conventions, and festivals throughout the United States. He has served as accompanist, conductor, composer, and arranger for synagogues throughout NY and LA and has delivered workshops in music technology for ACC/GTM conventions. Jeff is currently the Vice President for Information Technology for the Guild of Temple Musicians

Rabbi Miriam Margles 2010│Kuma
Rabbi Miriam Margles is an educator, artist and activist. Her liturgical compositions are sung in communities throughout the U.S., Canada and Israel. She facilitates workshops integrating creative exploration in movement, voice and creative writing with Jewish text learning and community building across lines of difference. She has led workshops with hospital patients, Israeli agunot (women denied a religious divorce by their husbands) and adults and young people of all ages. She is the co-founder of Encounter, an educational organization that fosters understanding through face-to-face encounters between North American Jewish leaders from across the religious and political spectrum and Palestinians in the West Bank. She served as the Associate Rabbi at Kehilat Lev Shalem in Woodstock, N.Y. and is an alumnus of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship and the Jerusalem Fellows Program of the Mandel Leadership Institute. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from York University, a Master’s degree in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, and rabbinic ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. She currently lives and works in Toronto.

Joel Nothman 2010│ Shema Koleinu
Joel Nothman recently begun arranging and composing music while researching a Ph.D. in Computational Linguistics at the University of Sydney (Australia). In 2008 he was awarded a University Medal for his undergraduate studies in Computer Science, Linguistics and Classical Hebrew. He also has a keen interest and involvement in Jewish education, especially in non-didactic forms of study and the process of textual interpretation. He is a tenor vocalist, regularly leading synagogue services, and singing with a variety of groups ranging from a small Early Music ensemble to Jewish community choirs since 2006. While he has arranged a number of Jewish pieces, Shema Koleinu is his first setting of a liturgical piece, and is among his very first compositions.

Orit Perlman 2010│ Lamdeni ElohaiAhavah RabbahEsa ’Einai 2008│ Song of the Omer’Ozi Ve Zimrat YahVe Ten Tal
Orit Perlman is a cantorial soloist, singer, composer and lyricist who specializes in Jewish musical traditions. Having served congregations in Israel and the USA, including Hebrew Union College Jerusalem, she is currently based in Ohel Avraham (Haifa), and Sulam Yaakov (Zikhron). She and musicologist Dr. Shoshanna Weich Shahak have performed together extensively, including a lecture series at Bar Ilan University on the life cycle, and a panorama of Sephardic Song. She is currently launching two new CDs : Ot Azoi! – Yiddish with a zest of jazz, and Kol Haneharot, original Jewish music based on traditional texts (including three pieces honored by Shalshelet). Tfilotai, her CD of traditional and original prayers, was created in collaboration with HUC Jerusalem as a resource for educators, from which a recording for the Union for Reform Judaism’s TotShabbat Handbook was taken. Her compositions appear in Transcontinental Music Shabbat Anthologies IV and V. Her performances in Israel and the United States highlight hazzanut, melodies in Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, and her own compositions. She lives with her family on the Carmel in Israel.

David M. Pinansky 2010│ Dodi LiPsalm 23
2006│ May the Words Honorable Mention
David M. Pinansky has been composing for more than 30 years. Born in Portland, Maine, he has an undergraduate degree in music from Colby College and a law degree from New England School of Law in Boston. In addition to his instrumental works, he has composed works for the synagogue which have been heard in services and performances throughout the country. In 1982 he was the Grand Prize winner of the Second Biennial Jewish Composers Contest held at Temple Sinai of Sharon, Mass. He was a commissioned composer for the 1986 national convention of the American Conference of Cantors and Temple Guild Musicians. In 1988, the Texas Bach Choir premiered his new setting of L’Cha Dodi. In 1996, he was guest artist at the Greater Baltimore Cantors Association. In 2001, he was in residence for the Reston Chorale’s Seasonal Celebration concert in Reston, VA. In 2005, he was guest composer for the Sabbath of Song at Temple Emanu El in Houston, TX. His May the Words received honorable mention in Shalshelet’s 2006 Festival. He is a member of the Guild of Temple Musicians and is an occasional cantorial soloist at Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation. In his day job he is Counsel in the Legal Division of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Ernest Rakhlin 2010│ Hashkivenu
Ernest Rakhlin studied piano, composition, music theory, and musicology at Moscow Conservatory Music College and Moscow Gnesin Musical Institute. After teaching in Moscow for almost 20 years, he moved to the U.S. In Buffalo, N.Y. he created the Rakhlin Chamber Orchestra & Ensembles. Several years later he moved to the Boston area where he is an organist at Temple B’Nai Israel in Revere, Mass. and continues to work as an accompanist and teacher. He has composed more then 80 compositions including concertos, symphonic poems, string quartets and vocal works. His compositions have been performed in Russia, Bulgaria, England, and the U.S., and he continues to create new music.

Cantor Lance Rhodes 2010│ Lekha Dodi
2008│ Psalm 29 Transcontinental Music
Cantor Lance Rhodes grew up in Ormond Beach, Fla. in a musical family. He wrote his first major composition in high school, a symphonic poem which he conducted at graduation. While earning his Bachelors of Music from the University of Miami, he directed several music groups, composed soundtracks for student films, and headlined as the main performer/composer for events such as the March of Dimes Walk and University of Miami 9-11 Vigil. After graduation, he worked as a free-lance arranger for Warner Bros. Publications, composed a theme song that was used for the national television show, “National Lampoon’s Comedy Night School,” and worked on board the Rhapsody of The Seas (out of Galveston, Texas) for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. In May 2009 he was invested as a hazzan and received his Masters in Sacred Music from The H. L. Miller Cantorial School at the Jewish Theological Seminary. During his years at JTS, he composed pieces for Jewish texts (including Psalm 29, honored in Shalshelet’s 2008 Festival and subsequently published by Transcontinental Music), and received the Max and Sol Feld Prize in composition for two consecutive years. He is now the cantor for Congregation Brith Shalom in Bellaire, Texas.

Jessi Roemer 2010│ Ahavat ’Olam
Born in New York City and raised in Maryland, Jessi Roemer is training to be a second-generation cantor. Raised in a home filled with music, dancing, and Jewish life, and the daughter of Cantor Sue Roemer (z”l), she began composing and arranging songs when she was twelve. After receiving her B.A. in Judaic and Near Eastern studies, she spent nine years in Jerusalem, performing her own music, writing about Israel-Palestine, working for human rights, studying and teaching. She has sung and played with, composed and arranged for several choirs, bands, and a capella groups in Israel and the U.S., including The Oberlin Steel Drum Band, Kitka Jerusalem, The Underwires, Theallela, the Anna Crusis Women’s Choir, and the Kol Tzedek Kol Tehilla Band. She is also a poet and writing teacher and holds an MFA in creative writing. She currently lives in Philadelphia with her family, where she studies hazzanut and works as a cantorial soloist, guitarist, choir director and Jewish music educator.

Robert A.M. Ross 2010│ Lekhu Neranena
Robert Ross was born in Philadelphia and remains active in the music scene there. He received a Bachelor’s degree in music education, and Master’s degrees in choral conducting and composition, all from Temple University. He is Artistic and Music Director of Voces Novae et Antiquae (a professional choral ensemble in Philadelphia), and Co-Artistic Director and Conductor of the Yavneh Ensemble (a Philadelphia Jewish chorus). He is a professional chorister and assistant to the cantor at Congregation Adath Jeshurun in Elkins Park, and for ten years served as Music Director of the Mak’helat Beth Sholom at Temple Beth Sholom in Cherry Hill, N.J. He is Associate Conductor of the Lady Chapel Singers of the Women’s Sacred Music Project in Philadelphia and is chair of the music department of Community College of Philadelphia, where he teaches theory and music history, as well as directing the CCP Vocal Ensemble. His compositional catalog numbers well over a hundred works, including choral works, cantatas, symphonies, instrumental chamber works, and experimental pieces. His work has been published by Coronet Press, Theodore Presser Company, Thomas House and Psalm 150 Publications (both now represented by Hal Leonard), Oxford University Press, and Laurendale Associates. His works have been recorded on the Premier label by the Gregg Smith Singers and the Arkay label by Voces Novae et Antiquae. He is the recipient of numerous awards and commissions.

Ilene Safyan 2010│ Petah Lanu Sha’ar
Whether in her role as cantor, teacher, performer or composer, Ilene Safyan weaves the multicultural musical strands of the Jewish experience into a harmonic tapestry of sound. She has shared her music in communities throughout the U.S., Canada and Latin America. Her six CDs of Jewish music have been recognized by such publications as Entertainment Weekly, the American Library Association and Parents’ Guide to Childrens’ Media. Parents’ Choice Magazine awarded her recording Just in Time for Chanukah! the Gold Medal for excellence in children’s recordings; Where Dreams are Born was awarded the Silver Medal. Both were recorded with longtime singing partner Margie Rosenthal. Her music has been featured on XM radio’s Hanukkah station, Children’s Media Network, WQXR, CBS and NPR and is included in the Dartmouth and Florida Atlantic University Jewish Sound Archives. A native of Pittsburgh, Pa., she currently lives with her family in Portland, Ore., where she serves as cantorial soloist at Congregations Neveh Shalom and Havurah Shalom.

David Sanders 2010│ You Shall Love
David Sanders is a composer, musician, and professor at Montclair State University, where he teaches sound design, audio production and video production. He has written electro-acoustic scores for film, television, commercials, and modern dance. Most recently he has focused on creating musical settings for Jewish, Christian and Islamic sacred texts. He regularly leads music for Kabbalat Shabbat in Montclair, N.J. He is Director of the National Music Council, an umbrella organization of fifty of the nation’s most prestigious music associations. He recently produced the music for the New Jersey Rally and Vigil for Darfur where he conducted a 70-voice interfaith choir performing two of his original compositions. His Song For Darfur is included in the new Social Action Songbook published by Transcontinental Music. His musical settings for Psalm 102 and You Shall Love were featured at the 2010 American Conference of Cantors/Guild of Temple Musicians national convention.

Merit Shalom 2010│ Yom Zeh le-Israel

With musical roots on both the Sefardi-Iraqi and non-Jewish sides of her family, Merit Yasmin Shalom finds that her spirituality is most often expressed in music. She has composed songs ever since she could get her hands on a tape recorder. Although she mostly writes her own lyrics, she began to create new melodies for Shabbat zmirot (Sabbath table songs) when she grew tired of hearing the traditional ones, although she never expected her tunes would traverse beyond the family Shabbat table. Merit attended the Montgomery College Scholars Program and then transferred to Mount Holyoke College.  There she co-founded a music composition club in order to increase the visibility of and support for student-written music. She also designed and led a lyric-writing workshop for English-language learners while fulfilling an internship in La Plata, Argentina. She graduated from Mount Holyoke in 2010 with a degree in psychology and education and an elementary teaching license. She looks forward to a future of teaching and songwriting.

Cantor Robbi Sherwin 2010│ It’s All Good
2008│ Love AdonaiMa’Ariv ’Aravim with Katy Jordan
Cantor Robbi Sherwin grew up in an Air Force family in small towns all over the U.S. and was first exposed to the riches of Jewish music at summer camp. Currently the spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Butte in Crested Butte, CO she has also served congregations in Austin, San Antonio and El Paso, Texas, as well as Denver and Evergreen, Colo. Her songs have found their way into synagogue worship, concert halls and summer camps from Tulsa to Tel Aviv. She leads women’s retreats, Shabbaton, and writing new melodies with kids and with congregations. She recently joined Storahtelling’s Mile High Maven Company. Discography includes: Todah LaChem (Thanks, Y’all – 2000) and Aish HaKodesh (the Holy Fire 2005). Also, as one-third of the Jewish folk/rock band Sababa with bandmates Steve Brodsky and Scott Leader, she and her music can be heard on Pray for the Peace (2007) and It’s All Good (2010). Two of her compositions were honored at Shalshelet’s 2008 Festival. She serves on the board of the Women Cantors’ Network.

Judith Silver 2010│ GesherBerikh        Rahamana

Judith SilverJudith Silver performs at venues and Festivals throughout the U.K. and abroad. She works across a range of styles. She started her musical journey as a singer/songwriter, reflected in her first album, The Day Will Dawn Again and in elements of moonchild released in 2005. She also works in harmony singing, including songs from around the world that she teaches at workshops. The trio Anam.Cara, in which she sang for ten years, has this work at its core as does the 4-piece a capella group she more recently joined, Far Flung Voices, with co-members of the Natural Voice Practitioners’ Network (NVPN). After years playing and singing other people’s songs, she began writing and performing her own in the early 90’s. She now writes, teaches and performs Jewish music – in Hebrew, Yiddish and English. In 2008, she became the Director of the World Music Choir at SOAS (School of African and Oriental Studies, University of London). Her most recent CD, gathering, was released in 2009.

Irene Steiner 2010│ Yismehu 2008│ Shalom Rav and Anim Zemirot 2006│ Hodu L’Adonai

Irene Steiner, who received a Master’s Degree in Music as a voice major, has performed as soprano soloist at religious institutions, in operas, oratorios, musical comedies, solo art song recitals and Yom Hashoah memorials in the NYC metro area. A 1999 journey to Krakow with her parents, Holocaust survivors from Krakow, inspired a passion for Yiddish art song and Hebrew liturgical music. In 2000, she produced the first of a series of concerts of Jewish song at Temple Beth Shalom in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., where she lives with her family. In 2002, invited by the Judaica Foundation–Center for Jewish Culture, her Yiddish vocal trio, The Katsenshprung Singers, performed a concert of songs by Mordechai Gebirtig in Krakow. She composed music for 12 poems written by Gebirtig from 1939-1942 for which no music was found; several were praised by Chana Mlotek in her column in NY’s Yiddish Forverts. At Sinai Leichter’s request, she composed music for 6 poems of Itzik Manger; she also set Yiddish poems by Simcha Simchovitch, at his request. Her work was selected for Shalshelet Festivals in 2006 and 2008. In 2009, Temple Beth Shalom commissioned her to compose a major choral work, which premiered in 2010. An attorney in Manhattan, she dedicates her efforts in performance and composition to her parents, as well as her grandparents and uncles, all of whom perished in the Holocaust.

Lori Sumberg 2010│ Esa ’Einai
Lori Sumberg is a cantorial soloist, a singer/songwriter/guitarist, and an English teacher. She received her first guitar at the age of ten, and has enjoyed writing and performing for over three decades. She earned an M.A. in English Education from Boston University and a B.A. in Creative Writing from SUNY Binghamton. Lori has been an educator for over twenty years and has taught students of all ages. A third-generation New Yorker, her love of Jewish music was inspired at her home synagogue, Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, where she sang soprano in the choir for ten years. She received cantorial training at the Jewish Theological Seminary H.L. Miller Cantorial School and the Academy for Jewish Religion in new York. Since 2003, she has served Reform, Reconstructionist and Renewal communities. Lori now lives in Tucson, Ariz. with her family, where she serves as cantorial soloist at Temple Emanu-El and at Beth Shalom Temple Center, and teaches English at a private college. She recorded Love is a Danger Zone (a folk/rock CD available from CDBaby) and is working on an album of Jewish/liturgical music. She is the 2011 commissioned composer for the Women Cantors’ Network conference in Philadelphia.