2023 / 5783 Cohort
Bruce Bierman is an award-winning actor, playwright, director, choreographer and movement teaching artist. He recently adapted and directed Yiddish Theatre Ensemble’s online production of God of Vengeance and directed and choreographed YTE’s hit musical, Di Megileh of Itzik Manger. Bruce served as Yiddish dance dramaturg for Erika Chong Scuch’s choreography of Indecent (Arena Stage and OSF) and as the Yiddish dance and theater consultant for Indecent with the San Francisco Playhouse. Bruce was a fellow of LABA –an experimental laboratory for Jewish Culture and is a leading presenter of Jewish Dance throughout the West Coast including Klezmerquerque, KlezCalifornia, Contemporary Jewish Museum and the Skirball Museum.
Debórah Eliezer (she/her) is a mixed-identity Arab Jewish artist, activist, coach, and California fire survivor. Passionate about the power of human transformation, her work focuses on disrupting assumptions about art, human values, environment and society. She is the Artistic Director of Aviva Arts, an Associate Artist with Golden Thread, an artEquity arts facilitator alumna, and serves on the MENA Alliance of Theatre Makers steering committee. Eliezer has devised numerous world premieres and toured internationally, including writing and performing (dis)Place[d], about Iraqi Jews. She holds a B.A. Cum Laude in Drama from SFSU, is a certified Sound, Voice Music Healing practitioner from CIIS, and certified yoga instructor.
JessAnn Smith (she/her) is an NYC-based producer, educator and teaching artist. She likes working as an EDI trainer for Keshet, a Co-Producer with Thank You For Coming Out, and a Stage Manager for Temple of the Stranger. JessAnn has also been all over the USA & beyond with choirs, film productions, comedy troupes, one-person shows and education workshops. Most recently she completed her training as an Intimacy Coordinator with IDC, and is currently acquiring a Wilderness First Responder certification. Her passions include being an auntie, trying new things, art therapy, open water swimming, and creating content that serves (and celebrates!) her Jewish and LGBTQIA+ identities.
Jules Pashall is a fat, white, trans/queer Ashkenazi Jew who holds space as a somatic, creative, and spiritual practitioner. For 15 years, they have been exploring fat as a resource for transformation. Jules’ offerings are built on the belief that undoing violent hierarchies and how they live in our bodies is part of the path of soul retrieval and collective liberation. They hold a master’s degree in Somatic Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies and their writing can be found in The Fat Studies Journal and Diverse Bodies, Diverse Practices: Toward an Inclusive Somatics.
Connect with them online @fat.as.the.sea
Miryam Coppersmith (she/they) is a Philadelphia-based performance artist who aims to create spaces for transformation for her collaborators, audience, and greater community. She works with movement, speech, and sound coming from her own body, drawing on training in Contact Improvisation, Six Viewpoints, acting, Black American social dance, and other influences. Miryam holds a BA in Dance and Creative Writing from Oberlin College. She was a 2020 Get What You Need artist in residence and has presented work at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, You Can’t Fail, Fresh Juice, and more. Miryam works as a Jewish educator and is a writer and editor for the online dance journal thINKingDANCE. (Un zi red a bisl Yiddish). miryamcoppersmith.com
Monica Rey (she/her) is an artist/educator/activist passionate about improving the ways we communicate with one another and open ourselves to other perspectives. Experience as a teacher informs her work in child advocacy/parent education, anti-ableism, inclusion, and nonviolent communication. Rey was recently a Leadership Fellow with the Jews of Color Initiative, working with Lab/Shul in New York City, and is currently a song leader with Rabbi Mira Rivera’s Beloved Community at the JCC Harlem. She will soon begin her year as a Teaching Fellow for underserved communities with TALMA: The Israel Program for Excellence in English. Monica holds a B.A. in Hispanic Literary Studies from Colorado College and an M.Ed. in Montessori Education from Xavier University, with teaching certifications for ages 3 through 6th grade. As a trained actor and yoga instructor, she advocates for the unsung healing powers of arts and movement experiences. As a playwright, Monica explores the trauma stories she shares with ancestors, in particular the Indigenous peoples of Mexico and the crypto-Jews who sought refuge there post-1492.
Rabbi Noam Lerman (they/he/zi) is a story-collector, musician, restorative justice circle keeper, nature and shabbes lover, writer, amulet maker, and Hebrew Scribe. Noam was ordained from Hebrew College in June, 2020. They founded Der Tkhines Proyekt, which provides experimental and songful workshops that give life to Yiddish spontaneous supplications that were/are composed and prayed by women, trans, and gender-expansive-people. Noam also organizes with Gates of Resilience, which is an intergenerational community that centers storytelling, disability justice and healing processes by and for folks from the margins. They have been a chaplain for students, elders, incarcerated youth, and recently-incarcerated fathers fighting for survival. Noam has facilitated workshops at various convergences and cultural festivals, and is excited to be a multidisciplinary faculty member at KlezKanada, 2023.
Rishe is an experienced prayer leader and focuses on creating unique immersive ceremonies utilizing dance, music, and meditation. She carries the lineage of the Chabad-Chassidic tradition of meditative niggun and prayer and is a teacher and songleader, most recently at Nava Tehila in Jerusalem. She has been featured educator at Jewish retreats including Moishe House, Isabella Freedman, Pearlstone Center and Limmud NYC. Rishe is currently studying for Rabbinic ordination at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. She previously served as Rabbinic intern and Director of Education at the Beacon Hebrew Alliance, and is currently the interim student rabbi at Congregation Beth Ohr in Bellmore, Long Island, NY.
Skye (he/they) is a somatic practitioner and mental health professional supporting individuals and communities in deepening their alignment with liberation work. Their clinical work has mainly centered on supporting queer and trans youth and adults and they continue to cultivate space for folks to see and feel themselves with more compassion in private practice and as the Mental Health Advisor at Avodah. Having spent the last year and a half working as a goatherd in rural Massachusetts, Skye is deeply curious about what we can learn in our relationships to the natural world and its creatures. You can find them reading a sci fi novel, puzzling, and getting really excited about the latest whale fact they learned.