What We Do
Rising Song Fellows' Bios


Rising Song Fellows, 2020-2021

About the Fellowship

The Rising Song Fellowship aims to raise the musical-spiritual creativity of Jewish culture by developing music that both connects to the energy of the Jewish community and is also artistically inspiring.  The Fellowship further strives to model and articulate a paradigm for mid-21st century musical-spiritual leaders and to develop a network of leaders who will affect the hearts and ears of the Jewish world and beyond.


Naomi Less

Brooklyn, NY

(She/Her/Hers) is a Brooklyn-based, international singer, composer, musician, educator and Founding Ritual Leader of Lab/Shul. Naomi’s heart-projects include hosting the Jewish Women Rock show on Jewish Rock Radio and co-creating/touring “TRYmester: Jewish Fertility Journeys Out Loud.” She is a beloved educator and musician at national Jewish conferences and seminaries. Naomi has trained in spiritual leadership, music, facilitation and education for the last 18 years. Her music is sung in worship communities worldwide and can be found online at Labshul.org, Spotify and YouTube


Josh Ehrlich

New York, NY

Josh is a composer, lyricist, arranger, music director and music educator in New York City.  Josh has written hundreds of compositions, orchestrations and vocal arrangements for various ensembles including the hit off-broadway musical, The Imbible: Day Drinking. He music directs at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires and the Leffell High School and recently completed The Choral Torah: 5 Books in 4 Parts, a 54-song a cappella anthology reanimating ancient text with 4-part harmony. www.joshehrlichmusic.com


Charlie Kramer

Los Angeles, CA

is song & spirit. Legally blind and with an acoustic guitar, Charlie Kramer unites, magnetizes and elevates the communities around him. A touring songleader, songwriter & spiritual leader, Charlie has sung with communities throughout North America, Israel, Australia and New Zealand. Founder and Creative Director of the blindfolded singing and healing experience, Singing in the Dark, Charlie shares the story of his blindness across the world through music and meditation, helping others to face their challenges and uncover the many blessings within their lives. Visit www.charliekramermusic.com to learn more about Charlie’s story, music and offerings.


Anthony Russell

Acton, MA

Anthony is a vocalist, composer and arranger specializing in music in the Yiddish language. This work has brought him to Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston, Miami, New York, Toronto, Montreal, London, Berlin, Copenhagen, Warsaw, Krakòw, Tel Aviv, Symphony Space in New York City and the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Anthony's work with klezmer trio Veretski Pass resulted in Convergence, an EP combining a century of African American and Ashkenazi Jewish music. He now writes and performs in a Yiddish songwriting duo, Tsvey Brider, with SF Bay Area accordionist and keyboardist Dmitri Gaskin. Anthony lives in Massachusetts with his husband, Rabbi Michael Rothbaum.


Yoni Avi Battat

Boston, MA

Yoni is a Boston-based multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and composer specializing in contemporary and traditional Jewish music from Eastern Europe and the Middle East. He has performed around the world with artists such as Yair Dalal, Shai Tsabari, and Nava Tehila. Yoni received his Bachelor's from Brandeis University and Master's from Boston University, studying classical viola performance and composition alongside Yiddish and Arabic language. He also studied oud and violin extensively in Jerusalem, where he was able to focus on Arabic maqam (mode systems) and piyutim (Jewish liturgical poems). He performs regularly with his Yiddish Jazz band “Two Shekel Swing.”


Shira Kline

Brooklyn, NY

Shira, a.k.a. ShirLaLa, is a performance and ritual artist, recognized as a revolutionary educator and named one of the new re-engineers of Jewish life.  Whether onstage as a colorful kiddie rocker or in the sanctuary as a spiritual adventurist,  Shira’s work is in the garden of life. She tours extensively locally and globally, teaching, collaborating, and creating ritual across the denominational spectrum of congregations, seminaries, and gatherings of all ages.  A co-founder of Storahtelling and Lab/Shul NYC, Shira’s work as Director of Worship is to ignite expression of spirit through the medium of the musical soul.


Riv (Cedar) Ranney Shapiro

Oakland, CA

Riv (Cedar) Ranney Shapiro is a queer multi-modal artist, educator and ritual leader living in Ohlone territory (Oakland, CA). As an ordained Kohenet, Riv is passionate about making Jewish wisdom accessible, inclusive, liberatory and engaging. They’ve served as a ritual and song leader with the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute, Jewish Studio Project, Ohel Moed, Eden Village West, Wilderness Torah and more. Their feminist drash on Avinu Malkeinu, “Slow Down,” has become part of High Holiday liturgy in communities around the world. Riv’s current projects include a collection of vocal looping compositions, Yiddish lullabies for an era of climate chaos, and “fragments: multi-media ancestral storytelling.”


Basya Schechter

New York, NY

Basya 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.   She is also the Hazzan and musical director of Romemu, a fast growing, progressive, spiritually adventurous community 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. 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 re-imagining 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, the cornerstones of the contemporary Neo-Hasidic renaissance.


Arielle Lekach-Rosenberg

Minneapolis, MN

Arielle moved to Minneapolis in 2017 to join the rabbi team of Shir Tikvah, a vibrant, progressive synagogue in South Minneapolis.  Her work is focused on the intersection of music, prayer and activism. She was ordained by the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College and spent her final two years of rabbinical school working as a full-time rabbinic fellow at B’nai Jeshurun in New York City.  Arielle is a classically trained singer, an accordion aficionado, and a lover of piyutim. She performs with the ensemble Sefarad-Yerushalayim-New York and hosts regular piyut song circles in her living room. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband, Noam, and daughter, Hallel.


Joe Buchanan

Houston, TX

Texas born and southern raised, Joe Buchanan makes country music that is steeped in Torah. He grew up struggling with religion and his place in the world until one day outside of the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. and 13 years into their marriage, his wife revealed that she was Jewish. An exploration of faith led the way home for the whole family and kicked off a whirlwind of songwriting, ultimately leading to Joe's debut album, Unbroken. Since his conversion, he's toured the country leading services, concerts, and workshops. Joe’s goal is to help drive connection to what connects us all and to hold the door for other seekers. His latest release is Back From Babylon and his website is www.joebuchananmusic.com.


Daphna Rosenberg

Pades Chana-Karkur, Israel

Daphna is a singer, guitarist and a main prayer leader at Nava Tehila, the Jewish Renewal community in Jerusalem for the past 15 years. She composes original music to prayers and poetry and specializes in musically leading life cycle ceremonies. Daphna has been traveling extensively to share, present and teach the Nava Tehila t’filla b’tzibur musical methods around the Jewish world. Her music is known around the world and serves in the area of spiritual care for the ill and dying, and in creating heart-to-heart connections between people from different cultures and traditions. She is currently involved in musically and spiritually leading and organizing Jewish meditation retreats with Or Halev in Israel.


Eliana Light

Durham, NC

Eliana envisions a joyful, vibrant, heart-centered Judaism that speaks to the soul and moves the spirit, reminding us that we are One. She crafts ritual, writes music, trains educators, and consults with communities to discover the “why” of their prayer life, allowing them to offer more meaningful experiences to more people, and is based in Durham, NC. www.elianalight.com


Jessi Roemer

Philadelphia, PA

Hazzan Jessi Roemer is a composer and performer of Jewish music, writer, prayer-leader, and facilitator of Jewish and interfaith communal singing. Her compositions bring European, Middle Eastern, North and South American musical traditions into conversation with Jewish text. Born in New York City, raised in Washington, D.C., and having spent a decade of her adult life in Jerusalem, Jessi's musical projects range from the rhythmic, Middle Eastern-influenced melodies of her ensemble EZUZ, to re-interpretations of Yiddish, Ladino, and Western classical pieces, to the gospel-influenced, spiritual melodies of her latest project PRAISE. Ordained by ALEPH: The Alliance for Jewish Renewal, Jessi serves as the Hazzan of Society Hill Synagogue in Philadelphia, PA. www.jessiroemer.com


Zach Mayer

Boston, MA

With over 11 million hits on YouTube for his “Subway Sax Battle,” Zach Mayer has performed with John Zorn, Frank London, Michael Alpert, Joey Weisenberg, and Bobby McFerrin. He performs internationally with Zion80, a 10-piece Jewish Afrobeat band inspired by the music of Shlomo Carlebach, and his folk sextet, Night Tree, has toured internationally and has released two albums produced by Seamus Egan of SOLAS. He has been on the faculty at the Brandeis Institute of Music and Art, Laguardia Arts High School in Manhattan, and teaches at the KlezKanada Jewish music festival each summer. Mayer is the musical director of Kahal B’raira, a humanistic Jewish congregation in Cambridge. He received his Masters of Music from the New England Conservatory in Boston. He released his first album of original Jewish melodies, Modeh Ani in 2019, and sings his music with communities around the country. www.zachmayermusic.com


Billy Jonas

Asheville, NC

Billy is Bridging Divides—using music to help heal divisions in ourselves, our families, our communities, and our world. As a performer, songsmith, educator, and multi-faith advocate, Billy has performed worldwide for three decades. His current projects include the Billy Jonas Band (funky folk music for all ages), Abraham Jam (Jewish-Muslim-Christian singer-songwriter trio with Dawud Wharnsby and David LaMotte), and BRIDGING DIVIDES 2020: Dreaming the New Decade. Originally from Chicago, Billy lives in Asheville, NC with his wife and daughter. When home, Billy is a cantorial soloist at Congregation Beth Ha Tephila. www.BillyJonas.com


Rising Song Fellows, 2017-2019




Aviva Chernick

Toronto, Canada

Aviva is a Ba’alat Niggun, award-winning musician, and mindfulness educator based in Toronto. Alongside an active performing and touring career, she has served in and around Toronto and as a guest in communities across North America, leading and teaching about the voice in prayer. Aviva completed her training as a Mindfulness Meditation Teacher with the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and is the founder of two mindfulness programs in Toronto — the Mindfulness Minyan, and the sitting and singing community neySHEV. Aviva facilitates adventures for freeing the voice at home in Toronto and with diverse communities while on her many travels. http://avivachernick.com/


Shir Yaakov Feit

Ulster Park, NY

Shir Yaakov Feit is a singer, composer, designer, producer, and teacher. Shir Yaakov has recorded and released four albums of original music; as co-founder he performs with The Darshan Project. His song “Broken-hearted” won the Forward’s Soundtrack of Our Spirit '16 songwriting contest. His music is foundational to the sound of Romemu, where he served as Musical Director. He is a student in the ALEPH Rabbinic and Spiritual Direction ordination programs and a Wexner Graduate Fellow. http://shiryaakov.com/


Yehoshua Fruchter

Brooklyn, NY

Multi-instrumentalist and composer Yoshie Fruchter has made his mark with a style of playing and composing all his own. He is a busy guitarist, bassist and oud player who has released two albums on John Zorn’s Tzadik records as a leader and played on three others. Having grown up an Orthodox Jew, he is notable for his work in composing, performing and interpreting Jewish song and has constantly forged new directions with his music, regardless of genre. He recently released an album on the new Jewish record label Blue Thread Music of post-rock arrangements of old cantorial recordings entitled Schizophonia www.yoshiefruchter.com


Gayanne Geurin

Atlanta, Georgia

Gayanne Geurin serves as music director and lay cantor at Atlanta's Congregation Bet Haverim, directing a uniquely relevant program that is rich in innovation, collaboration and ruach. She works relationally with communities as organizer of creative and spiritual endeavors. Also as a former psychotherapist who is now a vocal coach, Gayanne offers a multidimensional approach for singers.  As a vocalist herself, you can hear recordings of her on Beyond the Veil: Chant and with Bet Haverim's celebrated chorus. http://www.gayannegeurin.com


Rabbi Yosef Goldman

Philadelphia, PA

Yosef Goldman is a spiritual artist, activist and community builder. Raised Orthodox in New York City in a mixed Ashkenazi and Mizrahi home, Yosef has taught and facilitated sacred prayer space in communities throughout the Jewish denominational spectrum.

He performs as a vocalist with Joey Weisenberg and the Hadar Ensemble and is Creative Advisor to Hadar's Rising Song Institute. He is a founding member of the Middle Eastern Jewish music ensemble the Epichorus, and the Philadelphia Jewish music collective the Shir Singing Circle. Yosef serves as Rabbi & Director of Sacred Music at Temple Beth Zion-Beth Israel in Philadelphia.


Aly Halpert

Millerton, NY

Aly Halpert is a queer, Jewish, young adult musician based out of Millerton, NY. A singer, pianist, and guitar player, Aly writes songs for community, collective liberation, and for visioning different worlds. She believes deeply in the power of music to both awaken us to the loss and hope we carry, and shift what we can tell is possible. Over the last five years, Aly has been immersed in Jewish song communities and has had the privilege to co-lead music at Eden Village camp. Whether the songs she writes or leads are serious or seriously goofy, her awe at the importance of this work to mark time, heal grief, connect, and bring more life only grows.


Anat Hochberg


Anat Hochberg grew up in the Boston area with family roots in Israel, Yemen, Poland, and Hungary. She grew up playing piano and singing, and went on to study Music Education and Piano Performance at UMass Amherst. Anat has taught music in high school and elementary school settings. Anat has served as the Jewish Life and Ritual Team Leader at the Moishe Kavod House Boston and Music Director at Eden Village Camp. She is a member of the Hadar Ensemble and recently recorded the CD Elul Album. Anat is a current fellow at Yeshivat Hadar in New York City.


Batya Levine

Boston, MA

Batya Levine is a Jewish educator, ritual leader, facilitator, and musician. She is a founder and organizer of Let My People Sing!, a project which brings together a diversity of Jewish cultural and ethnic music for the sake of learning, sharing and creating powerful singing space. Currently, she is recording an album of original Jewish music. Coming from the Jewish lineage of the tribe of Levi, who were the musicians in the Holy Temple, Batya is dedicated to music for the sake of healing and growth on the individual and communal levels.  


Jessie Mann


Chicagoland native and NYC based Cellist Jessie Reagen Mann is a member of the Om Shalom Trio, Musician at Congregation B'nai Jeshurun (NYC), and a founding member of cello duo 2VC. Jessie recently completed the left-hand technique book 60 Seconds to Excellence and has composed 2 works for Carolyn Dorfman Dance. Part of the Adele Live 2016 tour, Jessie has performed with Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Savion Glover and more on stage and TV. Jessie is on faculty at BIMA at Brandeis University and the United Nations International School.http://www.cellochic.com/


Rabbi Miriam Margles

Toronto, Canada

Miriam Margles is an artist, educator and activist and has been serving as the rabbi of the Danforth Jewish Circle in Toronto since 2010. She is graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, an alumnus of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship and the Jerusalem Fellows at the Mandel Leadership Institute. Miriam earned a Master’s degree in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School and a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in creative writing from York University in Toronto.


Rabbi Jessica Kate Meyer


Jessica Kate Meyer serves as a rabbi at Romemu in New York City. She strives to build community through prayerful music, and music through prayerful community. Jessica has studied and performed sacred (and profane) Jewish music with rabbis, paytanim, and klezmorim in Jerusalem and in the US. In her previous life, Jessica appeared in many film, theater, and television projects in Europe and the United States: most notably, as a principal role in Roman Polanski’s The Pianist.


Chava Mirel

Seattle, WA

Chava Mirel is a singer, composer, and multi-instrumentalist who combines rich, luxurious vocals with deep pocket rhythms to bringing a new approach to Jewish music. With themes of gratitude, self-acceptance, balance, and responsibility for each other, Chava’s songs bring comfort and uplift the spirit. Chava’s songs are featured on the URJ Dunst Social Justice Music Project album, the Behrman House "Hebrew in Harmony" and the "Gift of Music" curated by Jewish Rock Radio. She has recorded two albums, as well as writes and records with Josh Niehaus. www.chavamirel.com


Cantor George Mordecai

White Plains, NY

Born in Sydney, Australia to Iraqi and Indian Jewish immigrants, Cantor Mordecai was immersed from an early age in the musical liturgical traditions of his family and weaves this rich cultural heritage into his work. Cantor Mordecai, who received his investiture from JTS in 2000, has sung with internationally renowned music ensembles. He has worked as a cantor in Philadelphia, Miami, Stamford and is currently the cantor at Temple Israel Center in White Plains, NY, Co-creator of the performance project Shalom/Pax, George continues to pursue devotional music that speaks to the sacred interconnectedness of all humanity.


Rabbi Bronwen Mullin


Rabbi Bronwen Mullin serves as the Rabbinic Artist-in-Residence at Town and Village Synagogue and at the Jewish Theological Seminary. She is a Myers Grant Award and JTS Seeds of Innovation Grant recipient for which she has developed numerous artist programs and development residencies at both institutions. She is a musical theater composer and will premiering her latest project, "Bat Yiftach: A Tragic Punk Opera" in October 2018. She is honored to be a part of this inaugural cohort of Rising Song fellows.


Chana Raskin

Jerusalem, Israel

Chana Raskin lives in Israel. Her song-filled Chasidic upbringing infuses her with tefila (prayer) and niggun (Jewish melody), and carries her in each moment of work and rest. Her appreciation for quiet spaces that invite deep listening, receiving, and connecting in with our simple selves, with Higher, and with our communities, has moved her to lead tefila spaces, as well as teach and perform niggunim in and around New York, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv. Still on a journey of her own self-healing from injury and trauma, Chana strives to hold a space with others recovering from illness or traumatic injury, through the healing powers of quiet, laughter, humming, singing and movement.  Chana is currently a Kollel member at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem.


Rabbi Dorothy Richman

Albany, CA

Dorothy Richman serves as Rabbi of Makor Or: Jewish Center for Meditation in Northern California, and teaches Torah widely throughout the Bay Area and beyond. She is a soulful leader of traditional and creative ritual, and recently released an album of original music called Something of Mine. Through Songcycle, which started in October, she is writing and recording a new song video each week in partnership with BimBam. Dorothy is also working on a performance piece exploring The Jazz Singer, Aretha Franklin, and medieval law to question what it means to pray and how to find your voice.


Rabbi Micah Shapiro

Philadelphia, PA

Rabbi Micah Shapiro received his rabbinic ordination from the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College in June.  A multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and bandleader, Micah has recorded multiple live albums of original settings to Jewish prayer and is founder of Boston’s Shabbat Sing Out and Jewish Songwriters’ Collective. Upon ordination, Micah moved to Philadelphia where he is Rabbinic Fellow for Innovation at Penn Hillel.


Taya Shere, Co-Founder/Director, Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute

El Cerrito, CA

Taya Mâ Shere co-founded and co-directs Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute. She is co-author of The Hebrew Priestess: Ancient & New Paths of Jewish Women’s Spiritual Leadership and Siddur HaKohanot: A Hebrew Priestess Prayerbook. Taya Mâ’s chant albums Wild Earth Shebrew, Halleluyah All Night, Torah Tantrika and This Bliss have been heralded as “cutting-edge mystic medicine music." She teaches at at Starr King seminary and is a practitioner of Somatic Experiencing and Ancestral Lineage Healing.