Adam Feder is the Musical Director of The Shul Band and a teacher at Temple Sholom in Greenwich, CT and at the Congregation for Humanistic Judaism in Westport, CT. A guitarist, singer and composer since the age of ten, his love of Jewish music has its roots in memories of his grandmother’s Yiddish melodies, her cooking, and years of Passover seder musical marathons, accompanying his father’s accordion. Along the way, Adam has studied the Philosophy of Religion at Sarah Lawrence College; meditated at too many week-long retreats to count; grown and developed a network of inner-city community gardens in Yonkers, New York; received an MSW from Hunter College School of Social Work; and served as a Hospice Social Worker for five years. For Adam, music and synagogue have been the common denominator throughout his life. He has produced multiple CD projects and is continuously working with new musicians and communities to ignite ‘heart and soul’ within the synagogue and Jewish community through music.
Anya Marfin is a local NY artist and a designer who graduated from Parsons School of Design with Bachelors in Fine Arts majoring in Product Design. She built her career designing fashion handbags for major American companies like Calvin Klein selling in Macy’s and Lord and Taylor. While she loves creating beautiful things with different materials like macrame art, ceramics is one of her passions. Anya, who grew up in Israel, deeply enjoys working with children to explore Jewish culture and continuity.
Caroline Rothstein is a New York City-based award-winning writer, poet and performer. She tours worldwide performing poetry, speaking, facilitating workshops and teaching at colleges, universities, schools, community organizations and performance venues. Her work has appeared in Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, BuzzFeed, Narratively, The Forward, Williams Magazine, and elsewhere. She was a member of the 2010 Nuyorican Poets Cafe slam team, which placed second at the 2010 National Poetry Slam, and co-coached the 2013 Nuyorican Poets Cafe slam team, which placed third. She is the Creative Writing faculty for Brandeis University’s BIMA precollege summer arts-intensive program, on faculty for the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s annual Cornerstone Fellowship, and is a Youth Mentor at Urban Word NYC. She is a producer on the forthcoming documentary film “The Kids,” and was an Associate Producer on Andrea B. Scott’s “Florence, Arizona.”
Dov Smiley is an original comic book artist who creates Torah comics to address Jewish Values in a modern way. Along with his Jewish Holiday books, Dov offers a variety of art programs to help Jewish groups learn and interact with the Jewish comic book world. Dov is currently a teacher at the Kubert School in New Jersey, and works with Jewish communities in New York schools and camps to promote comic books as a way to further include others in their own Jewish education. See Dov’s work at dovsmiley.blogspot.com.
Ellen Alt has exhibited her mixed media artwork in the US, Israel, Germany, former Soviet Union, China and England. One of her pieces was presented to Hillary Clinton in Jerusalem on the occasion of the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan. Ellen received a BFA in art education from the Massachusetts College of Art and an MA in studio art from New York University. She is an instructor in the graduate education program at Brandeis University. In New York City, she is the artist-in-residence at the Park Avenue Synagogue and teaches mixed media art courses to adults at the 92nd Street Y. In addition, Ellen organizes community sculpture and mural projects in the Middle East, India, England and throughout the United States. (ellenalt.org)
Hillary taught in a nursery school for many years in Canada, where she also ran her own ceramics studio. Upon coming to New York became very involved in the JCC culinary arts programs. She is a cooking instructor for after school Little Chefs International, Cook Shabbat with your tots, JCC Summer Camp Cooking Instructor and Havurah Cooking Instructor all at the JCC Manhattan.
Ilan Marans is a musician, teacher, and film editor currently residing in New York City. He graduated from Columbia College in 2013 with B.A in Music. He is an accomplished performer and teacher who specializes in live improvisation. Up until September, Ilan was the Music and Video Specialist at Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County. In September, Ilan started his new job as the Jewish Life And Events Coordinator at the JCC of Harlem.
Jake Friedman is an animator, professor, and writer. His animation has been see on The Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, and Saturday Night Live, and he contributed to the recent animated feature film, Epic. He has taught animation to students of all ages and backgrounds, from elementary school to college. His articles have been printed in nearly a dozen publications, and he is the New York correspondent for the leading industry mag, Animation Magazine. He is the authorized biographer of Disney legend and labor leader Art Babbitt, and his “Art Of” book on a certain animation studio will be out next year. See more at http://www.jakesfriedman.com.
Rabbi Kurt Stein has a summer camp personality and can do 15 one arm push-ups with either arm. He studied in Israel for six years and received rabbinic ordination in 1998. He then began a career on Wall Street, however, his passion is teaching children. Rabbi Stein is a high-energy rabbi who will inspire students and touch their hearts. Kurt lives in Northern Jersey with his wife Melissa and their six children.
Merav Ezer is a Tel Aviv-born sculptor and video artist who has been living in New York City since 2002. She holds a Bachelors of Education from the Beit-Berel College and an MFA from SUNY Purchase. Merav has taught for over 15 years in a variety of settings including Beit Rabban Day School, the Havurah Program at the JCC Manhattan, and at Beth Elohim in Park Slope, among others. Ezer has participated in New York and international exhibitions. Her work has been shown at the Andy Warhol Factory, Hendershot Gallery, the Cypress Video Art Festival, Williamsburg Video Art, Scope New York, and the Abington Arts Center, among other venues. Her work received favorable reviews in such periodicals as Sculpture Magazine, The Journal of International Woman Studies, The Jewish Press, and World Sculpture News. She has been an artist in residence at the Santa Fe Art Institute, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Makor Artists-in-Residency. In 2007, Ezer won the Finishing Funds award in 2007 for her work Air Condition. Her first book, Second Skin, was published in 2009. Merav Lives in Williamsburg with her husband, artist Adi Shniderman. (arteducation.meravezer.com)
Equal parts rocker, ritual leader, trainer, experiential educator and social activist, Naomi Less’ performances and workshops captivate audiences, exploring themes of justice, empowerment and open-heartedness. Founder of Jewish Chicks Rock, a program umbrella for initiatives to invite and empower young Jewish girls to pick up instruments and express themselves through music, Naomi models the change she wants to see. She tours worldwide with her band, providing concerts, rock camps, worship services and workshops to participants of all ages. Naomi has developed and delivered myriad trainings for local and major national organizations in the Jewish community. She is a founding company member and Director of Education and Training Storahtelling and former VP of Programs at the Foundation for Jewish Camp. Naomi’s music is available on cdbaby.com/naomiless2 or iTunes.
Sara Stave Beckerman is a teacher of TaNaKh and Rabbinics and the Rosh Hinukh/ Director of Education at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires. A curriculum expert and consultant, Sara is also the creative force behind the interactive full-color Jewish prayer curriculum Siddur Sababa. Sara holds an MA in Jewish Studies with a concentration in informal education from the Davidson School of Jewish Education at JTS. Sara loves teaching access skills to Hebrew and Jewish cultural literacy. Sara is the coordinator of the Hebrew Home Page course for the Jewish Journey Project.
Sheila Lewis is a curriculum and children’s writer and supplemental and Hebrew school educator with a background in teaching through the arts, literacy, and contemplative practices. At the JCC Manhattan, Sheila currently teaches meditation classes at Makom and in the Shabbat R&R program, and related programs that foster wellness, creativity, and the spirit of community. She is co-author with her husband Sheldon Lewis of the book Stress-Proofing Your Child. Sheila recently co-authored a summer learning program, the pilot “Project Fast Forward,” for the national Boys & Girls Clubs of America. She is thrilled once again to be leading the Jewish Children’s Book Club and teaching her new classes for JJP. As the mother of two grown sons, one with special needs, Sheila is especially interested in affirming the gifts children of “different abilities” have to offer.
Dutch-born Yona Verwer is an artist in New York. She creates works that explore identity, terrorism, Tikkun Olam, and Kabbalah. Yona holds a master’s degree in fine art from the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague and has shown and curated in galleries and museums nationally and internationally. She is the executive director & co-founder of the Jewish Art Salon in NYC, and serves on the advisory boards of Art Kibbutz: the International Jewish Artist Residency, Zeek: A Jewish Journal of Thought and Culture, Jewish Art Now, and the Jewish Design Collective. Her art has exhibited at Yeshiva University Museum, Andy Warhol Factory, the Bronx Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Jewish Art, Center for Jewish History, Mizel Museum, Reginald Lewis Museum of African-American Art, Stanback Museum, Canton Museum of Art, and the Holocaust Memorial Center. See http://yonaverwer.com.