Learn Virtually
Rising Song Intensive

Singing Communities Intensive December 22-25, 2019



Led by a diverse team of musicians and prayer leaders, including Hadar’s Rising Song Institute Co-Directors Joey Weisenberg and Rabbi Yosef Goldman, the Rising Song Intensive offers the chance to experience the depth of Jewish music by studying traditional melodies and sounds and participating in the creative process of bringing new music into being.

  • Enter a community of ba’alei tefilah, cantors, community organizers, lay leaders, musicians, rabbis, singers, and students in an ongoing exploration of communal musical dynamics
  • Unearth the spiritual underpinnings of song and study the complex intersection between individual and communal voices.
  • Explore with renowned musicians diverse voices within the global Jewish musical heritage.

Hadar’s Rising Song Institute aims to cultivate the grassroots musical-spiritual creativity of the Jewish people. Taking place in New York City, the Rising Song Intensive is one of many projects aimed at furthering this vision. Read more about our Rising Song Institute and our recently launched Rising Song Residency.

Hadar is proud to partner with the Center for Prayer and Spirituality at B’nai Jeshurun to host the 2019 Rising Song Intensive.



Rising Song Institute Faculty

Yosef Goldman - Rabbi Yosef Goldman is co-director of Hadar’s Rising Song Institute. Raised in a mixed Orthodox Ashkenazi and Mizrachi home, Yosef has taught and led prayer in communities of every Jewish movement. Most recently he served as Rabbi and Director of Sacred Music at Temple Beth Zion–Beth Israel in Philadelphia. Yosef is also a composer and collaborative musician who is a featured vocalist in the Hadar Ensemble and a founding member of the Epichorus. His first album of original music, Open My Heart, will be released by the Rising Song Institute in fall 2019.

Deborah Sacks Mintz - Deborah Sacks Mintz is the Community Singing Consultant for Hadar's Rising Song Institute, serving as a resource to communities across North America and beyond who seek to deepen their practice of empowered song and connective prayer. She has served innovative institutions across the country as an educator and ba'alat tefilah, including Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn, the Brandeis Collegiate Institute in Los Angeles, and is currently a rabbinic fellow at B'nai Jeshurun in NYC. In addition to composing new nigunim and facilitating davening leadership workshops nation-wide, Deborah performs and records with a myriad of musicians, most belovedly as a long-time singer in Joey Weisenberg's Hadar Ensemble. Her debut album of original spiritual music will be released in 2020. A Wexner Graduate Fellow, Deborah is pursuing rabbinical ordination at the Jewish Theological Seminary, and holds degrees in music and religious anthropology from the University of Michigan.

Joey Weisenberg - Musician, composer, and teacher Joey Weisenberg is the founder and co-director of Hadar’s Rising Song Institute, which aims to cultivate the grassroots musical-spiritual creativity of the Jewish people. He is the author of The Torah of Music (2017 winner of the National Jewish Book Award) and Building Singing Communities. His seventh album with the Hadar Ensemble, Songs of Ascent, was released by the Rising Song Institute in fall 2019.

2019 Tracked Learning Faculty

Richie Barshay - Richie Barshay began drumming inside kitchen cabinets at an early age, and continues banging on things worldwide to this day. Noted for his work with the Herbie Hancock Quartet ('03-'07), he's been dubbed "a major rhythm voice on the rise" by Downbeat magazine, and The Guardian (UK) praises "the arrival of a major innovator who also knows how to have fun." Find him on tour and recordings with names like Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Esperanza Spalding, The Klezmatics, Fred Hersch, Kenny Werner, Lee Konitz, Natalie Merchant, Bobby McFerrin, and Pete Seeger among others. Since 2004 he has led outreach projects across 5 continents as an American Musical Envoy with the U.S. State Department. He can be heard on over 80 recordings as a sideman, and his two self-produced albums: Homework featuring Herbie Hancock (2004), and Sanctuary featuring Chick Corea (2014). Based in New York City, he is an AmSAT certified Alexander Technique teacher and maintains a private practice for performing artists and others to regain better mind-body coordination and ease of movement.

Aviva Chernick - Aviva is an award-winning singer, educator and mindfulness instructor who has brought her voice in music and prayer to communities and congregations around the globe. For the past fifteen years, alongside an active performing and touring career, Aviva has served in and around Toronto and as a guest in communities across North America leading and teaching about the voice in prayer and about contemplative practice. She completed her training as a Mindfulness Meditation Teacher with the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and continues to teach a program on niggun and the voice in prayer that she co-designed with Rabbi Sam Feinsmith for the Institute online. In 2018, Aviva was one of 18 Jewish Prayer Leaders chosen to participate in the first Hadar Rising Song Fellowship in Philadelphia.

She recently began the position as the first Artist in Residence at Beth Tzedec Synagogue in Toronto and is part of helping to launch the Beth Tzedec Centre for Spiritual Well-Being. She will be leading programming with the larger community, the membership as well as offering mentorship to the spiritual leadership team to nurture their spiritual practice.

Aviva is the founder of the sitting and singing community neySHEV, and she facilitates workshops in freeing the voice and practices of Mindfulness in Song and Silence at home in Toronto and with diverse communities while on her many travels. Aviva teaches private lessons working with students to uncover and unleash their authentic voices and has been studying about the voice and apprenticing with her teacher Fides Krucker since 2006.

Singing in Hebrew, Ladino, Yiddish and English, she recently released her newest album La Serena, honouring the legacy of mentor Flory Jagoda.
Aviva is honoured and delighted to be joining the community for this year’s Singing Communities Intensive.

Galeet Dardashti - Vocalist and scholar, Galeet Dardashti, is the first woman to continue her family’s tradition of distinguished Persian and Jewish musicianship.   She has earned a reputation as a trail-blazing performer of Middle Eastern Jewish music beginning with her work as founder and leader of the renowned all-woman ensemble, Divahn (new release March 2020).  Dardashti received a Six Points Fellowship to pursue her multi-disciplinary project and nationally acclaimed release, The Naming, which interprets some of the compelling women of the Bible.  Time Out New York called The Naming  “urgent, heartfelt and hypnotic,” and The Huffington Post described it as “heart-stopping.” In her commissioned (FJC) multi-sensory piece, Monajat, Dardashti—accompanied by an acclaimed ensemble of Middle Eastern and jazz musicians—reinvents the reflective musical ritual of Selihot using digital technology to sing with recordings of her famed Iranian grandfather, Younes Dardashti.

As a scholar, she holds a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology and has garnered many fellowships for her academic research (e.g., Fulbright Hays, MFJC, NFJC).  Her recent positions have included Postdoctoral Fellow at NYU’s Taub Center for Israel Studies, Reitman Fellow at Rutgers University and her many publications examine Israeli music/media, Mizrahi cultural politics, and Arab/Jewish artistic “coexistence” today.  Dardashti’s current book project explores the Mizrahi piyut phenomenon in contemporary Israel.

Having studied with her father, Hazzan Farid Dardashti, Galeet Dardashti has 18 years of professional cantorial experience — most recently as High Holiday cantor at the Conservative synagogue of the Hamptons.  She has been Visiting Scholar, Assistant Professor of Jewish Music and Musician in Residence at the Jewish Theological Seminary in Manhattan since 2017.

Basya Schechter - Basya Schechter is best known for her group, Pharaoh's Daughter, a 7 piece world music ensemble that travels effortlessly through continents, key signatures, and languages with a genre-bending sound. Basya's earthy, soulful voice rings out over textured instrumentation that forms a vibrant collage of East and West, providing the soundtrack for a harmonious vision of creative peace and vibrant diversity.  With Pharaoh's Daughter She has toured all over the world, includin Europe, Israel, Great Britain South America, and has released 7 albums.  She is the Hazzan and musical director of Romemu, a fast growing, progressive, spiritually adventurous community begun by Rabbi David Ingber  on New York's Upper West Side, as well as the the spiritual leader of the Romemu Brooklyn Satellite Community. In  the summer, Basya is a the Cantor for Fire Island Synagogue, a smaller, flip flop wearing community co-led with banjo playing Rabbi, writer and scholar, Shaul Magid. Pharaoh's Daughter's last recording "Dumiya" (7th album) in 2014 was reviewed by Leonard Cohen: "Listening to Dumiyah in the car yesterday with a Turkish friend, such a delight — the groove, the purity, the skill — so fresh and yet so familiar as the work of the heart always is." Basya's most recent creative work is with Darshan, a musical midrash project in collaboration with esoteric indie rapper/poet Eden Pearlstein (aka ePRHYME). In 2017 Darshan released Raza, a radical reimagining of the traditional prayers and mystical poetry recited on Friday night to welcome the Sabbath Bride, they are currently working on their second collaboration, "Songs from the Void: A Musical Journey into the Heart of Rebbe Nachman with Basya Schechter and Eden Pearlstein (aka Darshan) digs into the  wildly creative and deeply insightful teachings and stories of Rebbe Nachman. He was, and continue to be, one of the cornerstones of the contemporary Neo-Hasidic renaissance.

Hadar Faculty

Elie Kaunfer - Rabbi Elie Kaunfer is President and CEO of the Hadar Institute. Elie has previously worked as a journalist, banker, and corporate fraud investigator. A graduate of Harvard College, he completed his doctorate in liturgy at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he was also ordained. A Wexner Graduate Fellow and Dorot Fellow, Elie is a co-founder of the independent minyan Kehilat Hadar and has been named multiple times to Newsweek’s list of the top 50 rabbis in America. He was selected as an inaugural AVI CHAI Fellow, and is the author of Empowered Judaism: What Independent Minyanim Can Teach Us About Building Vibrant Jewish Communities (Jewish Lights, 2010). Elie holds a doctorate in liturgy from the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he was also ordained. He also received semikha from his long-time teacher, Rav Daniel Landes. Elie serves on the board of Natan and on the advisory board of Upstart.

Aviva Richman - Rabbi Aviva Richman is a faculty member at Yeshivat Hadar, and directs the Manger Winter Learning Seminar. Aviva has taught at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, and is a past Rosh Kollel of the Bet Midrash at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin. She has also taught at the National Havurah Institute. She studied in the Pardes Kollel and the Drisha Scholars' Circle and was ordained by a private teacher. Particular interests include Halakhah, gender and sexuality in Judaism and niggunim. A Wexner fellow, Aviva is currently pursuing a doctorate in Rabbinics at NYU. She feels lucky to have grown up immersed in two incredible musical worlds - a Hassidic shtibl in Baltimore with many niggunim, and the Havurah movement where singing was as natural as breathing!

2019 Tracks

Multi-Day Learning Tracks

During the Intensive, we host learning tracks that meet multiple times during the week with expert musicians and educators to focus on a particular angle of individual and/or communal song creation:

1) RHYTHM SOUL TRAIN. Embodying the Beat 

With Richie Barshay

In this track, we will explore how rhythm connects our communities in song. Through a meditative discovery process of our physical bodies in motion, we will find pathways to deepen our sensory experience of the beat, embodying the music in a new way. In the ancient tradition of spiritual learning and introspection, we will touch on basic concepts of the Alexander Technique, study various Jewish grooves, and create sonic space together. All levels welcome. Wear clothes you can move in.


2) The Seed of My Song – a Vocal Intensive

With Aviva Chernick

Breath pours out and the voice goes along for the ride.
What might be the experience of our unmediated voice, in tefilah/prayer, in song, throughout our lives?
What is the context necessary for slowing down and softening in order to discover the seed of each of our unique song?
How might this awareness bring us into deeper connection with the Divine, community and the world around us?
This new vocal track is a lab, an opportunity to explore our individual relationships with our voices within a warm, safe and playful group context.

Breathing, yawning and sighing into sound and song.
Simple melodies with and without words.
Meditative practice and guided improvisation.

No experience with vocal training or improvisation necessary.
Just bring your curiosity and kindness.
This is an intimate, mindfulness practice involving listening and reflection, and a playful practice involving exploration and discovery. You may even be surprised.

Please note: We will be resting on the floor as well as moving around the room. Please wear comfortable clothing that allows for movement and bring a filled thermos or water bottle.
The second day will build on the discoveries of the first.


3) Integrating Sephardi/Mizrahi Vocal Repertoire Artfully and Respectfully

With Galeet Dardashti

This track will explore strategies for integrating Sephardi/Mizrahi melodies and texts into formal and informal Jewish communal spaces for ritual, prayer, and celebrations.  We will devote time not only to exploring how to share these musical traditions artistically, but also why it is important to represent Sephardi/Mizrahi traditions, and how can this be done with the utmost respect.   In addition to learning new melodies, texts, and Middle Eastern modes, there will be time for participants who wish to workshop a Sephardi/Mizrahi piece (from class or elsewhere) to receive feedback.


4) Tefillah Leadership Track

With Deborah Sacks Mintz and Rabbi Yosef Goldman

Take a deep dive into the art of tefillah leadership, exploring both technical skills in nusach, as well as strategies in strengthening empowered communal singing during tefillah. This track is for all who serve as ba'alei tefillah (communal prayer leaders) - professionals and lay-leaders alike. 


NEW THIS YEAR! This track will offer opportunities to deepen learning both by differentiated skill levels, as well as through an exploration of different leadership configurations - from collaborative davening teams to solo shelichei tzibbur and beyond.


5) Around the Velt (World) in 6 hours: Traditional Song and Diasporic Innovation

With Basya Schechter

This track will explore how the culture and music of the larger world has influenced the Jewish, musical, creative heritage of the Jewish Diaspora. We will examine a variety of vocal styles —Turkish, Yiddish/klezmer, Aramaic, Indian, Kirtan, and Bulgarian (among others!) and learn to sing traditional and original compositions inspired by these global traditions. 

As one way in which Folk Art has had an impact on the style of prayer-song in my personal  journey, we will also discuss the ability of art and prayer to invigorate the other.


The cost for this program is $600 and $300 for students. Tuition includes access to the full range of musical programming, daily breakfast and lunch, and a free ticket to the Hadar Ensemble’s annual Winter concert immediately following the Intensive.

We do our best to make sure finances are not an obstacle to participate in one of Hadar's programs. We have a very limited pool of need-based scholarship funds available but as a not-for-profit, we encourage potential participants to reach out to local institutions to see if they might be able to assist with the program fee. Federations, Synagogues, JCCs, and Hillels could be a good starting point.

If you are interested in applying for a scholarship for this program. Please fill out this form and someone will reach out to you shortly. Thank you for your interest and patience.

Frequently Asked Questions

General questions about Hadar's Immersive Programming? Click here!

Is it for me?

If you have a passion for Jewish communal music: yes! If you’ve come before, yes! Come again to learn new music and to review your favorite tunes and melodies!

When is it?

2020 dates will be announced in the fall.

Where is it?

The Intensive will be held at Congregation B'nai Jeshurun, 270 W. 89th St, New York, NY.

How much does it cost and what’s included?

The cost for this program is $600 and $300 for students. Tuition includes access to the full range of musical programming, daily breakfast and lunch, and a free ticket to the Hadar Ensemble’s annual Winter concert immediately following the Intensive.

Do you offer Scholarships?

We do our best to make sure finances are not an obstacle to participate in one of Hadar's programs. We have a very limited pool of need-based scholarship funds available but as a not-for-profit, we encourage potential participants to reach out to local institutions to see if they might be able to assist with the program fee. Federations, Synagogues, JCCs, and Hillels could be a good starting point.

If you are interested in applying for a scholarship for this program, please fill out this form and someone will reach out to you shortly. Thank you for your interest and patience.

What is your cancellation policy?

Before December 1, 75% refunds are available. Between December 1 and December 15, 50% refunds are available. After December 15, we are sorry but we cannot refund payments as we have already made down payments for the program that assumed your participation. Please note that refunds may take up to two weeks to process. We appreciate your patience.

How are the days structured?

The Intensive is broken up into large single-group sessions, smaller electives where participants choose which session they would like to attend, and multi-day learning tracks where participants choose to dive deeper into a particular angle of Jewish individual and/or communal music.

Is there evening programming?

The intensive will include programming on Sunday and Wednesday evening. There will be optional musical programming on Monday and Tuesday evening. You are welcome to join us for one or both of those sessions.

Is there a cap on attendance?

Due to increased demand, we are placing a cap on the number of participants for this program.

I have more questions. Who should I ask?

Write to us at [email protected].

2019 Sample Schedule

See our 2019 sample schedule below for a taste of the learning and singing that will be offered:


​2018 Intensive Reflections



Stay tuned for information on the 2020 Rising Song Intensive!