Women in Jewish Music

Abrams, Harriett

Harriet Abrams as Silvia in Cymon

English. Composer and soprano. Born,(ca) 1758. Died, 1822. Studied with Thomas Arne. Stage debut in October, 1775 in May Day as little gypsy. She appeared in London concerts, provincial festivals, and a series of Handel Commemoration concerts in 1784. Charles Burney praised “the sweetness and taste of her singing.” Composed vocal works. She also wrote two- and three-part songs. Occasionally her sisters sang with her. Haydn presided at the piano for her benefit concerts held in 1792, 1794 and 1795. She organized the Ladies Concerts, held in the private houses of their aristocratic lady directors, in the early 1790s. More information is available in the Norton/Grove’s Dictionary of Women Composers.

Paulina Achkinaz-Shepherd

Achinoam Nini (Noa)

Achinoam Noa Nini by Nahum Leder

Israeli-born singer (1969), pianist and percussionist, of Yemenite descent. She grew up in Bronx, NY, but moved after high school to Israel. After the army, she attended the ‘Rimon’ School of Music, meeting Gil Dor who became her musical   collaborator and accompanist. Her music reflects both her Yemenite heritage and the jazz and rock infused music of Gil Dor.  Her career launched with him, completing several international and Israeli albums and hundreds of concerts. Noa has performed for presidents, popes and prime ministers as well as working with some of the outstanding musicians of popular culture in the United States, such as Stevie Wonder, Carlos Santana, Quincy Jones, and Sheryl Crow. Site contains a biography, discography, photos, news and political statements. Noa is especially known for her peace work and concerts promoting understanding between Israelis and Palestinians.…

Achishena, Tziona

Tziona Achishena Closeup

American-born Israeli. Tziona Achishena provided this autobiographical sketch: “Tziona’s Achishena’s rich and soulful voice weaves its way through her new disc, “Miriam’s Drum”, created in collaboration with percussionist Shani Ben Canar. The album features original melodies to ancient Hebrew prayers “received” through her intuitive musicianship, and enlivened by world class percussion, transcendent harmonies, and inspired vocal improvisation. The album’s release marks the culmination of years of musical and spiritual searching. Interestingly, this process began, not through music training, but through dance. From early childhood to her first years in college at Berkeley, Tziona spent much of her time in the dance studio, studying all the major western dance forms from Ballet to Modern dance. At home, however, she was singing; and experiencing through her voice the beginnings of a sense of the revelation of soul.…

Adatto Schlesinger, Emma

American. Born Constantinople, Turkey. grew up in Seattle in a bilingual Ladino and English household. Developed an interest in the scholarly study of Ladino culture, including linguistics and music. Wrote a master thesis in 1935 at Univ. of Washington on A study of the Linguistic Characteristics of Seattle Sefardi Folklore. She incorporated an audio section which was field work and recorded Sephardic women from the Seattle community, including Spanish canticas and romansas, Turkish songs and Ladino songs. The University of Washington had the recordings transferred to better archival storage in 1981.

Ahuvat-El (Ohevet-El) Iron, Miriam

Israeli. Jerusalemite singer and song-writer, the descendant of a Hassidic family from Karlin who arrived from White Russia to Israel as early as 1846. She has published a CD, Hassidic Shabbath Songs and Nigunim of Karlin.Many of these Chasidic tunes were, according to tradition, “passed down through the generations, from the time of the great Hassidic Rebe, Reb Araleh Hagadol of Karlin, who was part of the circle of the Baal Shem Tov.” Miriam has also published a CD of her songs “Miriam Ahuvatel sings Psalms”, which appeared at the Shalshelet competition. “Ways of Peace” is another CD. Miriam has put her CDs for sale on CD baby http://cdbaby.com/cd/miriamae.Miriam’s CDs dress the melodies in some modern garb, including jazz and modern musical elements. Miriam has a very pleasant voice which I like very much, and the songs are all well done.…

Allard, Ellen

American. Jewish educator and songwriter, specializing in music for young children. Graduate of Boston University with a Bachelor’s degree in Music. She earned her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education at Arcadia University. “Ellen began her formal piano studies at the age of five, studied flute through elementary and high school, and learned to play acoustic guitar while a student in college. After graduating with a degree in music education, she taught elementary vocal music, grades K – 6. Pursuing further graduate studies under the tutelage of renowned Orff teacher Joseph Wuytack, she brought a strong Orff component into her music teaching. The Orff method continues to be a significant influence on Ellen’s teaching, performing, and songwriting.” Together with husband Peter Allard, Ellen put together the Bring The Sabbath Home song book

Amato-Salerno, Angela

Violin Soloist, Chamber Musician and Leader of Professional Orchestras in Italy and UK, Ms. Amato is now dedicating much of her Research into Jewish Music Study, with major interest in the arrangements of traditional Italian and Askenazy Music. She performed in major National and International Festivals. Purcell Room debut 1994; Teatro Francesco Cilea debut 1996; Teatro Bellini debut 1989. Winner of National and International Music Awards. Recorded for Radio France, Radio Swisse Romande, BBC and Rai radio and TV. CD recordings include 28° and 29° Tibor Varga Festival, Sion, Switzerland. Plays a French violin 1780 Paris School. Contact:aulos@paipai.net

Amit-Kalev, Lotti

Born 1934. nee Lotti Kalev. Pianist and composer living in Israel. Piano and harmony teacher. Graduated from the Rubin Music Academy in Tel Aviv in 1957. Music program editor in the 1950s at IDF radio station ‘Galey Tzahal’ in Tel Aviv. Compositions are listed at the Israeli Music Center: http://www.geocities.com/israelcomposers/works/amit.htm

Anne Joseph, Robin

American. Cantorial soloist. Songwriter. Robin has performed and recorded her original music as one half of the duo B’shert and now solo, with the release of her recording “Ta’amod–Stand Up!” Winner of the American Zionist Movement’s First Annual Song Competition in 1994, Robin’s unique style of storytelling through song, MidraShir, has been acclaimed nationwide. Robin’s liturgical compositions have been sung in synagogues across the United States and her Adonai Mah Adam was recently published through Transcontinental Music Publications. Ordained at the Academy for Jewish Religion, Robin is the cantor at Temple Beth Shalom in Hastings-in-Hudson, NY.

Aroeste, Sarah


American born singer. Aroeste’s family roots are Greece and Macedonia– her family came from Salonika, Greece before going to the US. Sarah trained in classical opera at Westminster Choir College and Yale University. She later studied with Nico Castel in Tel Aviv and in the US. Aroeste sings primarily in Ladino, in a musical genre originating from Spain. The Aroeste’s sound combines and updates aspects from her ‘unique family background with influx of Latin-based music in America over the past few years.’ To date, Sarah Aroeste has released four recordings, A la Una: In the Beginning (2003), Puertas (2007), Gracia (2012) and most recently, Ora de Despertar (2016),

Barak, Roslyn

American Reform cantor and opera singer. Born in New York City. Attended Manhattan High School of Music & Art. B.A. in vocal performance, Manhattan School of Music. Master of Sacred Music, 1986, Hebrew Union College. Also attended SF School of Psychology. Made Carnegie Hall debut with the Youth Symphony Orchestra of New York. 1974-77, Israel National Opera. 1987 began as Cantor of the Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco. Won Liederkranz Award and the Minna Kaufman Ruud Foundation prize. CD: “The Jewish Soul”.

Bauer, Marion

American. Composer. “Marion Bauer (15 August 1882-9 August 1955), daughter of French Jewish immigrants in Washington state, was a member of what scholars have called the “forgotten vanguard” of modernism…” Musicologist Dr. Melissa De Graaf has written a biographical sketch of Marion Bauer for the Jewish Music WebCenter, which can be viewed here as a pdf file.

Dr. De Graaf’s work is copyrighted. Pleasecontact JMWC if you need more information about the use of this article.

Beit-Halachmi, Michal

Israeli born clarinetist Michal Beit-Halachmi graduated from Givatayim Conservatory, where she studied with Eva Wasserman-Margolis. She continued her musical studies in the United States at Indiana University and Duquesne University, receiving her Bachelor of Music Degree in 1999. In 2002, she received her Master of Music degree from State University of New York at Stony Brook, under the tutelage of Charles Neidich. She has been a scholarship recipient of the America- Israel Cultural Foundation since 1997. She has toured Russia and Armenia with the American- Russian Young Artist Orchestra, performances at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival (Germany) and a concert in the Salzburg Festival with members of the Vienna Philharmonic. Other festival appearances include the Sarasota Chamber Music Festival, and Domaine Forget in Quebec, Canada. Ms. Beit-Halachmi has concertized extensively as a soloist and chamber musician throughout Israel and in Russia, Belgium, Hungary, Germany and the United States.…

Bernstein Gostein, Abby

Cantorial soloist, songleader, music educator, composer of Jewish liturgical music. Grew up in Mt. Vernon, NY. Currently at Temple Beth Shalom in Austin, TX., formerly at Sha’aray Shalom in Hingham, MA (1997-2003), and at Congregation Beth Israel in Austin, (1994-1997). Bachelor, Psychology, Yale University. Masters, Speech-language Pathology from the University of Texas at Austin.

Betcher, Cantor Marie

Cantor. Operatic Vocalist. Educator. Bachelor of Music, Vocal Performance Indiana University School of Music, Bloomington, IN; Masters of Music, Vocal Performance Florida State University School of Music, Tallahassee, FL; Certification & Investiture as Cantor Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion-School of Sacred Music, New York City. Performances include: Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Piccolo Spoletto in Charleston SC; and tours in concert in Sicily and England. She has won operatic competitions such as the West Palm Beach Civic Opera Competition and was a finalist at The Dallas Dealey Awards Competition. She has sung with symphony orchestras such as The Las Vegas Symphony, The Pittsburgh Symphony and The Austin Symphony. Her performances have taken her from Toronto to Beverly Hillsto New York and many cities in-between. Her repertoire spans from Puccini and Verdi operas to Brahms Lied and Faure Chanson to Bach and Handel arias.…

Bloomfield Zeisler, Fannie

American. Born July 16, 1863 in Bielitz, Silesia. Died, August 20, 1927. Moved to US in 1867. Concert pianist, teacher. Studied piano in US and then in Vienna with Leschetizky between 1879-1883. Professionally debuted at Chicago Beethoven Society in 1884. Concertized throughout the United States, in recital and with orchestras, promoting the works of contemporary American and European composers in addition to a vast standard repertoire.

Boyd Leon, Carol

American. Composer, songleader, cantorial soloist, choir director and music educator. Born and grew up in Baldwin, NY, graduated from Brown University, and has resided in Northern Virgiinia since 1977. Her music is “characterized by its lovely and singable melodies; her focus is on creating music for congregational and school use.” Ms. Leon is the current and founding director of several Jewish youth and adult choirs in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, coordinates Northern Virginia’s annual Jewish choral festival called “NoVaShir,” and teaches and leads Jewish music at several area schools and synagogues. Her works include “Family Shabbat” (with CD, 2000), “Jewish Life Cycle” (2002), “Gan Shirim: 70 New Jewish Songs for Children” (with double-CD, published by KTAV Publshing House in 2004), and “A Healing Service In Song” (DVD, 2005).…

Braitman, Sylvia

French-born mezzo-soprano Sylvie Braitman graduated from The San Francisco Conservatory of Music and has performed with various regional companies. She is a performer in the fields of opera, art song, folk and popular music. Braitman focuses on 20th century music– she has premiered opera roles such as Mrs. Vallejo in David Conte’s The Dreamers (Sonoma Opera), Anja in Philippe Manoury’s 60th Parallelconducted by Kent Nagano (Berkeley Symphony). Other roles include Marcellina in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Madame Larina in Eugene Oneguin, Thisbe in Cenerentola and Mercedes inCarmen. She is a regular feature of the Berkeley Jewish Music Festival and has conceived various one-woman-shows that tell the story of her family’s Holocaust experience through the use of Yiddish music, acting and story telling.…

Braunstein, Karen

American Cantor and klezmer musician. Bachelor of Music, New England Conservatory, 1981. Hebrew Union College-School of Sacred Music, invested as cantor, 1988. Started the band “Shirim” in Boston. Served various pulpits as cantor and guest-cantor in New York, Pennsylvania, Florida and Texas. Currently serves Temple Shaarei Shalom, a Reform temple located in West Boynton Beach, Fl.

Fanny Brice
Aamerican. Born October 29, 1891, New York. Died May 29, 1951, Beverly Hills, California. New York theatrical singer and comedienne. Starred in the Ziegfeld Follies. Following a success with Irving Berlin, she continued Yiddish style comedic songs. Brice toured as a vaudevillian, and also was featured in several Broadway shows in the 1930s. She became known for her onstage antics and Yiddish ethnic humor. She went on to radio and created the Baby Snooks character.


Bryan Edelman, Marsha

Singer, choral conductor, full professor of Jewish music (and education) at Gratz College in Melrose Park, PA. Edelman is director of the only non-Seminary-based program conferring an MA in Jewish Music. President of the Zamir Choral Foundation, and author of a variety of articles and liner notes. Author ofDiscovering Jewish Music, [JPS, 2003 ISBN: 082760727X]. Among her varied activities on behalf of Zamir, Dr. Edelman works with Matthew Lazar to coordinate the annual North American Jewish Choral Festival. She also serves as administrative director of Hazamir: The National Jewish High School Choir. (More information about Dr. Edelman forthcoming).

Carlyle, Jackie

Jewish singer/songwriter. Her song about Israel, SOULS IN THE BREEZE is on the Jewish Agency for Israel website. Clips of her singing are on her website.  I have always felt that writing came through me; it was a gift given to me by some higher power, especially the words. If I had the choice, I don t think I would have chosen this path for myself; I feel it chose me. Jackie s song  You Are My Anchor” was #2 on the charts under Elton John s Circle of Love in Holland. He website includes a bio, photos, clips and links.

Casman, Nellie

Born 1896 in Proskurov, Russia. Died, May 27, 1984 in New York City. Casman came to US in early 1900s. She began in the Yiddish theater as a child star. She performed in Yiddish theater in South America, Europe and throughout the US playing comic Yiddish roles. Nahama Sandrow, in her bookVagabond Stars, refers to Casman as “one of the rare female kuplétists, tiny and round…” The kuplét was a comedic patter song that had little to do with the action of a show. In some shows Casman combined this with the “red hot mama” style where she “starts to shake her bosom, which makes one cozy curve from shoulder to waist. She vibrates all over, till even the absurd red flower sticking up on top of her head jiggles, too and she looks down at her own chest with such childlike surprise and satisfaction that the audience roars with delight.” She performed in shows such as “The Girl from Argentina” and “The Drunkard”.…

Chen, Nira

Israeli. Born, Kibbutz Ein Harod. Studied piano in Jerusalem. Wrote several piano pieces, children’s songs, popular songs, such as “Iti Milvanon”, and ‘folk songs’, including the world famous “Dodi Li”, which many people today think of as a genuine folk tune. The tune is often used for choirs, but has received many arrangemenets, such as this one available online at the Boosey and Hawkes website:
A pdf score of the music appears at:

Cogan, Susan

Born Toronto, Canada. Moved to Jerusalem, Israel in 1966 where she began singing at the age of 15. In the 1970s in the duo Susan & Fran, these Canadian women achieved fame, with their songs now standards in Israel. Recorded, “Susan Cogan o-n-e”, a collection of her original folk and soft-rock songs. Toured Canada in 1981. In 1991 Susan created the indie label and recording studio “Nomad Music” together with producer Paul Brosseau. Released CD “Space-Age Primitives” (1993). CD “Gypsy Hill(1999) CD “Mayim” (2001), a collection of popular Israeli songs ranging from the 1920’s to the 1970’s, in Hebrew. Song “Israel Shemah”.

Cohen, Dalia

Israeli musicologist. Professor Emeritus of of the Department of Musicology at The Hebrew University and the Jerusalem Academy of Music. Her research interests include music theory, universals in music, music perception and cognition, learned and natural musical schemata, sytle as determined by both the aesthetic ideal and cognitive constrains, vocal communication among humans and animals, symmetry in music, musical language of Bach, Arab music in theory and practice. She has published numerous books on these subjects as well as numerous papers, books, conference presentations. Often collaborates with Ruth Katz in the field of cognition in music. Wrote her dissertation on Zimrat hahimnônim sel ha-‘arauim ha-rtôdoksim we-bay-yevanim haq-qatôlim be-yisra-el [The Hymn Singing of the Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholic Arabs in Israel]. Ph.D., Musicology, Jerusalem, 1968. Co-author with Ruth Katz, Palestinian Arab Music: A Maqam Tradition in Practice (2005).…

Cohen, Harriet

British pianist. Born 2 Dec 1895 and died London 13 Nov. 1967. Eldest daughter of Florence White and Joseph Woolf Cohen. Studied with Tobias Matthay at the Royal Academy of Music (1912-1917). Known for her performances of Bach. Ralph Vaughan Williams dedicated a Concerto to her, which she premiered in 1933. Lover of the composer, Arnold Bax, but they were never married. She made the first recodings of his music. In 1948, she injured her hand, but continued to play for a time with one hand. Her memoirs areA Bundle of Time (1969).

Cohen, Judith

Canadian ethnomusicologist and performer of Sephardic, Crypto-Jewish, Judeo-Spanish (“Ladino”)and Medieval music. Born in Montreal 1949, Dr. Cohen received her PhD from Université de Montréal in 1989 with a dissertation on Sephardic music in Canada. She travels widely researching medieval and Crypto-Jewish music in Spain and Portugal. She gives lecture-recitals, often accompanied by her daughter Tamar. Her CDs include: “GERINELDO: Chansons traditionnelles jud’o-espagnoles” (1994) and “Empezar quiero contar: Canciones de Sefarad,” (2000). Her website Judith Cohen includes a vitae, list of publications and lectures and discography. Dr. Cohen has published online articles and bibliographies including:A short bibliography of Sephardic Music

Cohen, Myrna

American. Cantorial Soloist at Temple Emanu-El in San Diego, California, composer and singer. “Myrna received her Bachelor of Science degree in Education and Music from the University of Pittsburgh, and was employed as a counselor and youth advisor at the Irene Kaufman Center, as well as being a music specialist at the Beth Shalom Synagogue Sunday School.” Albums by Myrna Cohen include: Special Days & Lullabies and Quiet Time, Special Days: Songs for Children, and Swinging Chai. Easy to learn songs for very young children.

Cooper, Adrienne

Yiddish singer and co-founder of KlezKamp. Born in Oakland, California on September 1, 1946. She studied German lieder and French art song in Israel with Mina Lief. Inspired and coached by Lazar Weiner in New York, Ms. Cooper focused on Yiddish song, concertizing widely. Her CDs include “Dreaming in Yiddish” (1995) and “Ghetto Tango”(2000).She joined “Mikveh”, a women’s klezmer band, and sang in their premier CD in 1998.

Czackis, Lloica

Mezzo-soprano. Born in Germany to Argentinian parents in 1973. Grew up in Venezuela. She played and sang with her musical family Latin American folk music. She formally studied singing and choral conducting in Buenos Aires, and completed her training at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London. Her repertoire ranges from the Renaissance to the avant-garde and from folk to tango, including oratorio, opera, and works written especially for her. Since 1999, she conceived and produced programs on Latin American and European 20th Century music, Yiddish song, cabaret and tango. She also performed in renowned venues in Buenos Aires and Europe. Her 2002 Millennium Award-winning show Tangele: The Pulse of Yiddish Tango (www.lloicaczackis.com/tangele.htm), features songs from the Yiddish theatre in Buenos Aires and New York and from ghettos and concentration camps in wartime Europe.…

Deikman, Susan

Singer, composer, Hebrew kirtan leader, educator. Leader in the international Music for People Organization, and teacher of voice, music improvisation and art. She teaches singing and leads drum circles. Susan is the creator of Mishpacha Music for children and their families. She is the founder of “Tone Deaf Choir” and has an instructional CD, “Toning for Tuning” for the Vocal Discovery Series. One of the originators of Hebrew kirtan which blends call and response chanting of Hebrew text and names of God with joyous sound: a blend of voice, harmonium, and drums. Kirtan, Deikman states “is an ancient Hindu devotional chant form and is similar in its religious passion and intensity to African-American Gospel and Hasidic niggunim.” Susan is known for her style of chanting. She states that she “offers you a powerful, direct, and personally transformative entry to God-realization.” Susan teaches at Elat Chayyim, which is affiliated with the Jewish Renewal Movement.…

Dowell, Barbara

Born December 29, 1942 in Columbus, Ohio. Currently serving Congregation Ohev Israel, Newark, Ohio as cantorial soloist. Founder and director of Temple Beth Shalom’s adult choir for thirteen years, The Sharyonim, and their children’s choir Shir Chadash. She also served as the cantorial soloist for Kenyon College holiday services. She arranges choral musical selections, accompanying them on guitar. The Sharyonim recorded a selection of their repertoire, including three original compositions by Barbara, in May, 2002, entitled “The Sharyonim Sing.” Copies of may be otained by contacting Barbara at barbara.dowell@pobox.com

Dreskin, Ellen

American. Cantor. Born in Texas. Founding member of Beged Kefet, a musical Tzedakah collective. Graduated Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion School of Sacred Music in New York, 1986. Master in Jewish Communal Service from Brandeis University. Currently Associate Dean of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. First Cantor to be appointed to a full-time senior administrative position at the College-Institute, 1998. Served as Cantor and Educator at Woodlands Community Temple in White Plains, New York, and Fairmount Temple in Cleveland, Ohio, and as the spiritual leader of Chavurat Tikvah in Westchester County, New York. Ellen is married to Rabbi William Dreskin of Woodlands Community Temple.

Drobatschewski, Ellen

Emigre German musician who survived WWII in hiding in France. In 1933 left Berlin for Luxembourg and lived there until the invasion of May, 1940. She Spent the war years in Marseilles and small villages around France, performing music, playing, knitting and working and frequently going into hiding or moving from place to place. Her two sons also survived the war as French soldiers. Drobatschewski describes her ordeal of survival in an article called “In Hiding” in Women of Exile: German-Jewish Autobiographies Since 1933, ed. by Adreas Lixl-Purcell.

Duarte, Leonora

Born in Antwerp (now Belgium) July 28 1610. Died 1678. Portuguese-Jewish, (formerly marrano) from wealthy family with six children. Known to have been a composer and performing musician with other family members of the lute, viols and keyboard instruments. She wrote in the late Jacobean style. Her works for a group of 5 viols were called “symphonies”. Her family were rich diamond merchants. Her father was baptised when Leonora was around 33 years old, but there is no information of any baptism for her mother Catharina Rodrigues. More information about Duarte, along with a bibliograpy, can be found in The Norton/Grove Dictionary of Women Composers. (p.150)

Durmashkin, Henny (Gurko)

Singer. Born 1924- Died, 2002 in Englewood Cliffs, N.J. Sister of pianist Fanny Durmashkin and conductor Wolf Durmashkin. Henny was the youngest. Her grandfather, Akiva, was the cantor of Vilna s main synagogue and respected composer of liturgical music. Before the war, Henny had studied opera. She was fluent in 8 languages. Her brother, Wolf Durmashkin, had been prominent in Vilna’s cultural, conducting the Vilna Philharmonic, prior to the ghetto life during WWII. In the ghetto, he directed a Hebrew choir and an orchestra in the ghetto. According to Barbara Durmashkin, Wolf perished at the age of 30, on Sept. 19, 1944. He was shot an hour before liberation of the Klooga concentration camp. During its 15 months in existence, the Ghetto orchestra performed 35 chamber and symphonic concerts.


Eichberg Rosewald, Julie

German-American. Soprano. First known woman cantor, in San Francisco, during the years between 1884-1893, the only currently known example of a nineteenth century woman cantor in America. Born on March 7, 1847 in Stuttgart the daughter of Moritz Eichberg (1806-1892), a cantor of Stuttgart for many years, and Eleanor Seligsberg Eichberg (1811-1881). Julie studied music at the Stuttgart Conservatorium. At age 17, Julie came to America, joining her sister, Mrs. Pauline Weiller, a piano teacher, in Baltimore in 1864. In 1866, she married Jacob H. Rosewald, a violinist and conductor. She and her husband participated widely in Jewish community musical activities in Baltimore. She decided to further her musical studies in Europe in 1870. She began singing opera professionally in America in 1875 with the Kellogg English Opera Company.…

Eisenberg, Jewlia

American. Rock musician and Jewish music synthesist. Born, New York. Educated at UC Berkeley. Traveled widely in Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Israel and Egypt helping influence her musical development. Both parents also influenced her musical tastes as well as exposure to diverse music. Collaborated on a film score directed by Lynn Sachs called “A Biography of Lilith.” Founded Charming Hostess, a hybrid music band, which includes Jewish and Yiddish musical and cultural influences. Her album Trelectic, released on the Tzaddik label, is a song cycle for female voices, but explores the relationship of Asja Lacis and Walter Benjamin, the influential philosopher. Sarajevo Blues(2004) is a CD that witnesses the terror of war. Her earlier work, Eat,(1998) is punk-klezmer.

Eisenstein, Judith Kaplan

American. Educator and composer and lyricist. Parallel in generation to Miriam Gideon, she was born, September 10, 1909, Sventzian, Lithuania. Daughter of Mordecai M. Kaplan, founder of Reconstructionism. Died February 14, 1996, Bethesda,(Rockeville?) MD. at age 86. Studied at the Institute of Musical Art (forerunner to Julliard). Graduated Columbia, BS, 1928, and Master in Music Education, 1932. Married Ira Eisenstein, 1934. PhD from HUC-JIR, 1966. Taught at HUC-JIR (1966-1979); Also attended Teachers Institute of JTS and taught there 1929-1954. Taught at Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1968-1980 (1978-1981?). Created many teaching materials for her pedagogy and history of Jewish music courses. Publications include Gateway to Jewish Song (1937); Songs of Childhood(1955); and Heritage of Music: The Music of the Jewish People (1972, 1990). Many of her English translations of Hebrew songs became well-known standards sung by Jewish children throughout the US.…

Elkoshi, Rivka

Born Romania, 1949. Composer. Music Educator and researcher. Immigrated to Israel, 1951. BA Hebrew University; MA New York University, 1976. PhD. Wrote: “An Investigation into Children’s Responses through Drawing, to Short Musical Fragments and Complete Compositions,” Music Education Research, Vol. 4, No. 2, (September 2002): 199, which is available online.

Ellen Schiller, Benjie

Cantor Benjie Ellen Schiller is both the first woman to be a full time faculty member at the School of Sacred Music at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York and a composer of sacred music. Born in New York on April 14, 1958 to Miriam and Nathan Schiller, Cantor Schiller studied voice and composition, and received a B. M. in Theory and Composition at Boston University in 1980. She continued graduate studies there in voice and choral conducting, and shortly thereafter, married Rabbi Lester Bronstein in June, 1981.

She attended the School of Sacred Music of Hebrew Union College in New York and was invested in 1987. Her Master Thesis composition was “Life Song Cycle.” Cantor Schiller also became a full time faculty member and taught courses in cantillation, basic nusach (prayer modes) and the in-depth study of repertoire for Shabbat.…

Engel, Hélène

Canadian. Originally born in France, Helene has lived in Montréal for more then 10 years. Singer, musicologist, composer, lyricist and arranger. Graduated in Music Therapy at UQAM. Classically trained singer performs in Yiddish, English and French Ms. Engel performs in various shows within and without the Jewish community. She also occasionally serves as a cantorial soloist at Temple Emanu-El in Montréal. She is also a music therapist, and works in such things as healing services, oneg shabbat in long term care units etc. Ms. Engel has performed in opera in Paris and other locations in France, in such roles as Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro; in Le Pont des Soupirs (Isabelle) at Théâtre de Paris. She has toured Europe and Canada. She has recorded 4 CDs.…

Epstein, Leah

Leah Epstein is a song writer living in Israel since making Aliya from Chicago in 1981. She lives on Moshav Keshet, an Orthodox community in the Golan. Her Hebrew and English songs are wistful, and at the same time religious and personal. The music itself is heavily influenced from a ‘time capsule’ of American song from some 30 years ago, such as American folk, Carole King or Joni Mitchell. There are some highly personal songs, such as “Child of the Heights” dedicated to her son killed in a car accident, and other of her texts are more universally and politically themed. The CDs, Nof Mushlam (A Perfect View), and New Faces, Old Souls, are available at Moria Books and Music in the Old City and through cdbaby.com.


Farber, Sharon

Jewish/Israeli Composer. Pianist. Born in Israel. Served in IDF. Worked as theater composer and musical director. Moved to Boston in 1994, studying at the Berklee School of Music, graduating 1997 in both classical composition and film scoring. She composed scores for numerous TV and film projects. Sharon is currently based in Los Angeles and continues works as a Film, TV and Concert Composer in additional to a parallel career in classical composition and choir music. She serves as the Music Director for Temple of the Arts under Rabbi David Baron. Sharon is on the Board of Directors for the Society of Composers and Lyricists and is currently composing for the Emmy Award winning TV Series “Starting Over”. In 2002, her concert composition “The Third Mother/Mothers Lament” (in dedication to Daniel Pearl) premiered with the Los Angeles Master Chorale.…

Feher, Ilona

Born, December 3, 1901, Budapest, Hungary. Died, Holon, Israel, January, 1988. Violinist, Master Violin teacher. She conertized all over Europe until WWII. Escaped interment and joined the partisans. In 1949, emigrated to Israel. Taught at the Rubin Academy in Tel Aviv, many of Israel’s new generation of great violinists, including Pinkas Zukerman and Shlomo Mintz, and over 250 other students. Awarded the Golden Medal and Diploma of the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, and the Israel prize for the Arts.

Feinsinger, Mary

Born in New York City. A graduate of Barnard College, with B.A.,(Psychology), she also has a Master¹s Degree in Voice from The Juilliard School. She studied Voice: opera ( Martin Lies, Rose Bampton, Daniel Ferro) and Jazz Improvisation (voice-Janet Lawson, piano-Haim Cotton). She also studied Classical Piano (Jeaneane Dowis, Aspen Festival) and Composition (McNeil Robinson). As composer/arranger and editor at Transcontinental Music company in New York, she has written and arranged numerous pieces of solo and choral Jewish liturgical music. She produced, arranged, and music directed the 2-CD set Kol Dodi: Jewish Music for Weddings (2002). Also for the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, she arranged and produced the recording Songs from a Passover Haggadah (1997). She is co-founder, vocalist, and keyboard artist of the West End Klezmorim, and wrote music and lyrics for the off-Broadway revue Hot Klezmer; she has been assistant music director and vocal coach for the Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre.…

Fensin, Marsha

Vocalist. American cantorial singer. Born the child of Holocaust survivors in Haifa, Israel in 1945. Involved in interreligious community work. Performs Jewish music in concerts, lectures at colleges, churches, the media, schools and other interreligious venues. Currently lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and serves as cantorial singer at Temple Judah. Musical training through the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music.

Fine, Vivian

Born in Chicago, IL, September 28, 1913. She showed musical promise by age five, and received a scholarship to study at Chicago Musical College 1919-1922. In 1924 began studying piano with Djane Lavoie-Herz. In 1925, she attended the American Conservatory in Chicago. She studied composition with Ruth Crawford and counterpoint with Adolf Weidig. In 1931 she studied with Roger Sessions in New York. She composed dissonant “ultra-modern” music. She taught at Julliard School of Music, and NYU. From 1964 until her retirement in 1987, Fine taught at Bennington College in Vermont. She founded the American Composers Alliance. She received numerous grants and awards including National Endowment for the Arts in 1974. Judith Cody completed a bio-bibliography (Greenwood Press) of her works which included 140 compositions. She died at age 86 in March, 20, 2000.…

Fischer, Greta

Noted concert critic of German original, who emigrated to Great Britain during WWII. Born, Germany 1893. Died Britain, 1977. Co-founder of “Club 1943” with Monty Jacobs and Adele Schreiber, a cultural forum for emigres in London during the war. Also worked on various newspapers. The Cultural Association had patterned itself after the Kulturbund founded in Germany when Jews lost their right to participate in mainstream cultural organizations under the Nazis.

Forbes, Vered

Israeli cellist and composer. Ms. Forbes studied voice for five years with Amalia Ishak.In August 2005, she studied with Allison Crum and the Rose Consort at the Dartington International Summer School. Ms. Forbes is a student of Philippe Pierlot (viol) and Reinhilde Bovend’aerde (Baroque singing) at the Royal Belgian Conservatory, where she specializes in Historical Performance.