The performers who will lead us in song at the celebration bring not just extraordinary talent and energy to all they do, but they also perform with a lev shalem, a full heart.
Batya Levine uses song as a tool for cultivating healing and resilience in her work as a communal song leader, musician, shaliach tzibur (Jewish prayer leader) and cultural organizer. She believes in the liberating power of song to untie what is bound within us, and sustain us as we build a more just and beautiful world. Batya is a founding core team member of Let My People Sing! and is a Cultural Organizer with Linke Fligl. She offers song, ritual, and workshops in a variety of communities, and composes original music made of Ashkenazi yearning, queer heart-medicine, and emunah (faith/trust). Batya released her first album Karov, in August 2021. You can learn more about her work and music at www.batyalevine.com.
Richie Barshay has performed and recorded with 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 five continents as an American Musical Envoy with the U.S. State Department. Richie can be heard on over 80 recordings as a sideman and his two self-produced albums, Homework (2004) featuring Herbie Hancock and Sanctuary (2014) featuring Chick Corea. Based in New York City and Northampton, MA, 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.
Aly Halpert is a queer white Ashkenazi Jewish musician, writer, educator, activist, and organizer living on Schaghticoke land in Millerton, NY. A singer, pianist, drummer, and guitar player, Aly writes songs for building community, working for collective liberation, and visioning different worlds. Whether her songs are serious or seriously goofy, Aly believes deeply in the power of music to awaken us to the loss and hope we carry, expand our sense of possibility, and connect us to each other and our collective strength.
Arielle Korman is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Ammud: The Jews of Color Torah Academy. She is also a songwriter, musician, and davening leader, often leading at Kehilat Romemu in New York City. Arielle enjoys blending her love of text with her music, aiming to open channels for people to engage with Jewish thought through song. She received her M.A. in Religion (Jewish Studies) from Columbia University.
Ira Khonen Temple is a multi-instrumentalist, bandleader, and embedded cultural organizer. This year, they have worked as a music director and producer for the French Moroccan singer Laura Elkeslassy, and for the performance Don’t Rain on My Bat Mitzvah by Morgan Bassichis, at the Rashid Johnson Red Stage presented by Creative Time. From 2018-2020, Ira was the accordionist for Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish off Broadway, and in 2019 was the music director of Indecent at the Weston Playhouse. As an educator and community leader, Ira served their community as a teacher of folk culture and political history for ten years at the Workers Circle, served as music director for New York’s largest community purimshpiel with the Aftselakhis Spectacle Committee from 2015-2018, and in 2014 founded the radical-traditional Yiddish music group, Tsibele.
Oren Kaunfer is Madrich Ruchani (Spiritual Educator/Director of Jewish Life) at JCDS, Boston’s Jewish Community Day School. Drawing on a diverse background ranging from Camp Ramah to the Carlebach Shul to MTV, Oren’s creativity, energy, and spirit elevate and energize the community, and infuse JCDS with genuine ruach. A 2018 Covenant Pomegranate Prize recipient, Oren is particularly interested in creating innovative and engaging t’fillah, and fostering meaningful connections to Judaism. At JCDS, he develops and executes all-school chagigot (holiday celebrations), oversees t’fillah for all grades K-8, works closely with the school-wide Pluralism Committee, and leads the Jewish Life Team—and he does most of it with an instrument in hand. Oren aims to bring the essence of Jewish summer camp to the school environment.
Natan Kuchar is the Assistant Director of Youth Development at Jewish Family and Children's Services of San Francisco, where he creates opportunities for Jewish teens to become leaders and change-agents in their communities. He also serves as Lead Youth Educator at Congregation Beth Israel in Berkeley, California. Previously, Natan was the Director of Edah, a thriving Jewish and Hebrew integrative afternoon school in Berkeley. Known for bringing together whole communities in song, Natan is a passionate advocate for connecting people through thoughtful, joyful experiences that respond to the needs of the community. He earned his Bachelor of Music degree from Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, and a Certificate in Arts Integration from the Alameda County Office of Education where he is also an active faculty member. Natan was recently honored by Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín for his outstanding contribution to the arts.