Founder – Miriam Leah Gamliel, Montreal QC
Miriam Leah Gamliel studied music, dance and theater including attendance at the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts, and completed 2 years of a BFA in musical theater before becoming observant in 1997. In 2006 she began to produce events in the religious community, beginning with a women’s musical and the creation of ATARA in 2007. Since ATARA’s first conference at Stern College, she has co-chaired its annual conferences and publishes a monthly newsletter for arts events and announcements in the religious community. In 2009, she directed a women-only feature film and in 2010 began to create events or programs to increase performance opportunities for women in the NY area. She currently resides in Montreal and pursues an EdD at the Azrieli Graduate School for Jewish Education working on a dissertation on the needs of creatively gifted students. She hopes to continue fostering creative expression in the religious community.
Board Member – Esther Leah Marchette, Boston MA
EstherLeah (Aviva) Marchette is a singer and former cantor who has been involved with music from a young age. She holds a B.A. in Songwriting from Berklee College of Music in Boston, which included studies in composition, lyric writing, advanced music theory, jazz and rock arranging. Esther Leah plays piano, guitar and percussion. In high school and college, she performed in musical theatre productions, sang in choirs and ensemble groups and directed an a cappella singing group at Yale University. In her early 20s, she worked as a cantor for a number of years until making the transition to embracing a Chassidic way of life. Since that time, Esther Leah occasionally performs for women and leads workshops, and organizes events and classes co-director of the Boston Breslov Connection. Esther Leah works as a Technical Program Manager, lives with her husband in Boston, and has 3 wonderful children.
Board Member – Toby Klein Greenwald, Efrat, Israel
Toby Klein Greenwald has founded, co-founded or directed more than 12 theater companies or educational theater projects. She is the artistic director of Raise Your Spirits Theatre (www.raiseyourspirits.org), in which capacity she has co-authored (lyrics) and directed musicals on Esther, Noah, Ruth, Deborah and the daughters of Tzelofchad (sole lyricist). She directed and script-advised the show Count the Stars in Gush Etzion in 2014 and directed Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat for both Raise Your Spirits and for the Brothers’ Troupe, a project for men and boys in Gush Etzion. She is the co-founder and producing director of the Dor L’Dor Interactive Theater Troupe which grew out of the award-winning psychology website WholeFamily.com, of which she is co-founder and editor-in-chief. She founded and directs Na’na Playback Dance Theater and Playback Hamra. She directed the Gush Etzion Playback troupe, taught Playback in Ramat Beit Shemesh and Jerusalem, and lectured in Playback Theater in the Institute for Expressive Therapists in Jerusalem College for Women. She created a new method called Biblio-Playback (or Playback Midrash) on which she gives workshops in Israel and abroad, and lectures also on Cinema Midrash. Toby directed Pippin in a theater program she founded for youth at risk, co-directed a theater project for struggling American youth in Israel called Secrets, directed a theater project for high school girls from Gush Katif following the destruction of their communities, called Scenes from our Lives, advised on a theater project of students of Sederot, called Children of the Kassams, directed a youth theater project on the Russian refusenik Ari Volvovsky, and directed other school and community theater projects, including Sephardic Orchard by past president Yitzhak Navon. In earlier years she taught drama to students in Sfat who were survivors of the Maalot terror attack. She is the recipient of the Yaakov Egerest Memorial Award for Jewish Culture, of the Torah Culture Department of Israel’s Ministry, for her work in educational, community and Jewish theater, and the recipient of the Ohr Torah-Shavei Rachel award for her educational Jewish theater work. She is also a journalist, a poet, and a teacher of Tanach, Creative Writing and English Literature, the translator of In the Land of Prayer, the editor of The Golden Pens of Gush Etzion, and the initiator and editor of the acclaimed Listening to God, by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin. She is a graduate of Jerusalem College for Women, of Hebrew University and of Bar Ilan (M.A.). She lives in Efrat with her husband, and her children and grandchildren live throughout the land of Israel.
Board Member – Henya Storch, Woodmere NY
Henya (Helene) Storch has always been connecting people and causes with her own unique style and vivacious personality. Pursuing her passion for helping people, Henya earned her RN degree from SUNY Stonybrook, and a Masters in Nursing from Hunter College and has worked in a variety of different healthcare settings providing hands-on care and as a supervisor. Her lifelong thirst for creativity and learning included advanced courses in the arts. Henya has combined the best of her medical background with her personal and professional connections and marketing prowess to develop a vast array of national and international humanitarian projects and major events. She has represented speakers, authors, performing artists and other talent, provided public relations for trade shows, book tours and lectures.
Contributing Member – Leah Bassett, Toronto / Bat Ayin, Israel
Leah Bassett has trained in Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Modern and Musical Theatre at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Academy of Dance in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Leah has performed in a wide variety of productions throughout Western Canada and had the privilege of assisting in choreographing the opening and closing ceremonies of the Pan Am Games. Currently living in Toronto, Leah has produced two community-wide music and dance showcases for women, and is a founding member of the women’s dance troupe, Koleinu.
Contributing Member – Amy Guterson, Pittsburgh, PA
Amy (Gordon) Guterson has her BA from Stern College, Yeshiva University, where she was the school’s first theatre major. She studied acting with Uta Hagen, and Mike Nichols, and has trained intensively in improvisation with Paul Sills. Amy is a graduate of The New Actors Workshop, a graduate level program in acting. A member of Actor’s Equity, Amy performed Off- Broadway before returning to observance. Now living in Pittsburgh, PA with her husband and four children (ages 3-15), Amy has found new ways to express her creativity and skills. Twelve years ago she co-founded the Kol Isha Theatre group which consists of Jewish women from across the spectrum of Judaism. As Artistic Director for the group, Amy has taught acting and improvisation and directed play development for most of the group’s original productions and workshops (based on issues of Jewish womanhood and Jewish unity / disunity). She also has written and directed some of the groups full length plays, trigger scenes and workshops. Amy wrote, directed and produced the film “Becoming Rachel”, which premiered at the Pittsburgh Jewish/Israeli Film Festival and has been screened at festivals across the country (and currently in Israel). She also performs with Pittsburgh Playback Theatre, which “plays back” its audience’s stories and feelings through improvisation. Amy can be seen on screen as Agent Emes’ mother in the Agent Emes video series.
Contributing Member – Rivka Wein Harris, Queens NY
Rifka Wein Harris is an artist and sculptor who works in clay and metal, in addition to holding a JD in law and working as a board member and journalist for Jew In The City. After an education in the Bais Yaakov school system, Rifka went on to earn her B.A. at Brooklyn College, and then a J.D. and a Masters in Taxation from the New York University School of Law. After clerking for a federal judge, she practiced tax law for 12 years at several major law firms. Now retired from the law, she organizes communal projects for various not for profit organizations including JITC. She lives with her husband and four young daughters in New York City.
Contributing Member – Franciska Kosman, Philadelphia PA
Franciska Kay (Kosman) is a composer, singer, and performer. Raised in religious school and in musical academy, Kay’s compositions reflect her commitment to bridging both worlds. Franciska started playing the piano at six years old. She began composing after she mastered the guitar at the young age of twelve. While studying in high school, she toured in the US and Europe with the musical ensemble Ilanit. Kay earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business from Touro College, while attending Juilliard School at night. Currently, Franciska works on her music production, and teaches students guitar. She recently produced her fourth solo album titled “Libi Bamizrach” and is already working on the next one.
Contributing Member – Aviva Spiegel, Tzfat, Israel
Aviva Speigel facilitates creative expression and movement workshops for women. Her journey to Yiddishkeit began with her intense interest in holisitic healing, which led to several grants to research concepts of Jewish health and healing in Israel, and ultimately a thesis for University. This research project opened up the path for Aviva to delve more deeply into her Jewish roots. A passion for healing and personal transformation as well as an unwavering mission of spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus forms the central motivation for her work with groups of women. She lives with her husband and children in Tsfat, Israel.
Founding Member – Robin Garbose, Los Angeles CA
Robin Garbose began her directing career in the theater. In New York and Los Angeles, Robin directed some 35 plays at theaters including: Ensemble Studio Theater, Jewish Repertory Theater, Manhattan Punch Line, Juilliard Theater Center and the Odyssey Theatre. She has directed such noted actors as Laura Linney, Jon Tenney, Peter Riegert, Helen Slater, Ricki Lake, Jason Alexander, Judd Nelson and Bruno Kirby. Her television credits include Head of the Class and America’s Most Wanted, where she directed numerous film reenactments, helping to apprehend fugitives. Robin co-wrote the screenplay, The Spark, about a Jewish girl’s search for faith which was selected to participate in the Sundance Institute Writers Lab. Most recently, Robin directed the acclaimed documentary Inspired, produced by Aish HaTorah, Roots, a musical play based on the Memoirs of the Frierdiker Rebbe, Camp Bnos Yisrael, a new musical DVD series for girls, as well as numerous productions for Kol Neshama Performing Arts Conservatory where she is Artistic Director. Robin’s feature film directorial debut, A Light for Greytowers, is currently in post production. Robin is a graduate of Brown University and a member of the Director’s Guild of America. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and producing/writing partner, Levi Yitzhaq and their children.
Founding Member – Henye Meyers, Manchester UK
Henye Meyer, a writer and theatre director in Manchester, England, has two published novels and an upcoming work to appear shortly as a serial in Hamodia. She has written articles for the BBC, Jewish Observer, Jewish Tribune, and the Jewish Homemaker, as well as comedy routines and eight full length plays and musical comedies. In 2005, she and a friend founded a women’s theater group in Manchester, PACE. She has produced as well as performed in its plays, written some of the music, edited two DVD’s and designed their packaging, and is responsible for business management of the company. Her work has been very warmly received by the local community. She holds a BA from Brandeis and has training in writing, speech and drama, voice, and music transcription. Henye works part-time and is a grandmother.
Founding Member – Yocheved Polonsky, Cleveland OH
Yocheved Polonsky, dancer and dance educator founded the CLI institute of dance, in Cleveland, Ohio, a Judaic dance and movement arts studio, to provide a holistic Jewish enviroment for the study of dance. The creation of CLI was inspired by her sincere desire to integrate the beauty of movement with the lofty spiritual messages and values of Torah, which was lacking in the local dance community. Her studio provides fun, dynamic classes in creative movement, ballet, Jazz, Pilates and Aleph Beis movement meditation, for women only. She travels worldwide to share her inspiration and vision through her workshops and performances: her belief that every person can utilize their natural talents and gifts to praise and connect with Hashem.
Founding Member – Yochana Chava (Pollack) Sandler, Kochav HaShachar, Israel
Yochana Chava Pollak is a third generation artist originally from New Haven, Ct. and presently living in Jerusalem. She uses various mediums: paints, collages, and ink, and often paints phrases of Jewish teaching. Her style is whimsical and conveys simchat chayim, love of life. Yochana Chava studied Fine arts at Emuna College, Illustration and Design at Pratt, Cooper Union, SVA and Parsons Art Therapy, Drama Therapy and Creative Writing in the New School for Social Research. She has close to 20 years of teaching experience, and founded and ran RLT (“The Road Less Traveled”) a creative road trip camp for girls on the US West Coast.
Founding Member – Kari Isaacson Siegal, Detroit MI
Kari has performed and trained in modern dance and contact improvisation across Canada . She has danced since childhood, studying a variety of contemporary styles as well as musical theatre, tap, jazz, ballet, stilt walking and acting. Kari has also worked as a stage manager and in theatre publicity, production and administration for companies both large and small in Toronto including Livent Inc. Kari is a founding member of the Toronto dance and performance collective Koleinu, creating weekly dance classes for Jewish women, and an annual performance fundraiser. Kari is a Guild Certified Feldenkrais® Practitioner having studied under a number of Moshe Feldenkrais’ original students. She currently practices Feldenkrais in Toronto, teaching people of all abilities how to improve the quality of their lives by improving the quality of their movement.www.improvehowyoumove.com
Founding Member – Rivka Watters, Toronto, CAN
Rivka Lomiansky Watters has been a professional performer for over 15 years and has a tremendous amount of training in acting, dance and voice. She has studied at the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, as well as at the Toronto-based comedic workshop Second City and with top coaches in Los Angeles. Rivka began singing classically at a young age, and has taken a wide range of dance lessons since the age of three, from jazz, ballet and tap to hip hop. Rivka has appeared in feature films, played leading and supporting roles in T.V series, and has been seen in many commercials. She has performed song and dance in concert all over Canada and the United States, also making many T.V and radio appearances debuting those talents. Rivka is a co-founder of Koleinu, a women’s dance troupe from Toronto. She is also currently running Toronto’s first musical theatre program for Torah-observant girls, called Neshama Theatre Troupe. The program has a strong focus on creativity and positive body image and culminates in a full-scale theatre production. www.neshamatheatre.com