Judaic Sacred Music Foundation
Rabbi Cantor Hillary Chorny is the Cantor for Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles, California. She completed her cantorial investiture, rabbinical ordination, and a Masterʼs degree in Sacred Music at the Jewish Theological Seminary before joining the staff of Temple Beth Am in August, 2014. Raised in San Diego, CA, she grew up with a deep attachment to the Conservative Jewish community. In 2008, Hillary graduated American University in Washington, D.C. with a B.A. in Jewish studies and a minor in vocal jazz performance. After working as a Judaics instructor and music director in various Jewish communities and camps, Hillary pursued her dream of becoming a cantor. In time, she was inspired by her teachers and family to also pursue the rabbinate. She and her husband, Rabbi Daniel Chorny, met in Israel, and continue to enjoy learning together.
Dr. Noreen Green is the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony (LAJS), which she founded in 1994. Known worldwide for her knowledge and skill in presenting music with Jewish themes, she has served as guest conductor in the United States, Israel, South Africa, Australia and Canada. In 2017, she was honored by Musical America, the oldest and most prestigious American magazine on classical music, as one of its Movers & Shapers, the Top 30 Musical America Professionals of the Year.
Under Dr. Green’s direction, the LAJS has performed at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Ford Theatres, the Soraya (formerly the Valley Performing Arts Center at CSUN), Royce Hall at UCLA, the Gindi Auditorium at American Jewish University and other venues. Special guest performers have included such personalities as Tovah Feldshuh, Randy Newman, Theodore Bikel, Marvin Hamlisch, Dave Koz, Hershey Felder and many others. The LAJS and its Teaching Artists annually serve over 1200 elementary students with an innovative outreach education program, A Patchwork of Cultures: Exploring the Sephardic-Latino Connection.
In response to the 2020 pandemic, Dr. Green formed the Jewish Community Chorale, as a program of the LAJS, to allow community singers a virtual outlet to continue to sing and express their love of Jewish choral music. This innovative response to the crisis was a natural outgrowth of Dr. Green’s extensive history of choral work, most recently with the AJU Choir, which she founded in 2014; the Pierce Encore singers, which she led from 2016- 2018; and her decades of work as Music Director of several Synagogue programs.
In May 2018, Dr. Green was honored to conduct the World Premiere of Emily Bear’s “And Forever Free,” with the composer at the piano, in Rockford, Illinois. The occasion was Bear’s induction into the Order of Lincoln, Illinois’ highest honor for professional achievement and public service; the 16-year-old Bear is the youngest recipient in the history of the prize. Other recent guest conducting engagements include the “Pesach Extravaganza” at Temple B’nai Torah, in Boca Raton, Florida.
Dr. Green has received numerous awards and recognition, including the National Foundation of Jewish Culture, the State of Israel Bonds, and California Legislature Assembly Member Bob Blumenfield for creating the Interfaith Tribute Choir and Orchestra Concert for Remembering 9/11. In 2012, Zev Yaroslavsky and the LA County Board of Supervisors honored her with a Commendation for her contribution to the Los Angeles arts scene.
In great demand as a lecturer and educator, Dr. Green has spoken at numerous national and international symposia and for the LA Philharmonic’s Upbeat Live series. In 2017, Dr. Green gave a highly acclaimed lecture-concert, A Celebration of Women and Music through a Jewish Lens, in Sydney, Australia. She also spoke at the National Conference of the American Choral Directors Association on the subject of Jewish choral music from the Sephardic and Ashkenazic traditions. The previous year, Dr. Green presented a workshop on Jewish music at the American Choral Directors Association Western Division Conference and delivered a talk on Jewish composers in film at the Magnes Collection for Jewish Art and Life in Berkeley, CA. In 2015, she gave the keynote speech at the annual Spring Conference of the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism in Irvine, CA
Dr. Green and the LAJS have released two CDs on the prestigious Albany Records label: contemporary Philadelphia composer Andrea Clearfield’s oratorio Women of Valor in 2017 and Holocaust survivor Eric Zeisl’s ballet “Jacob and Rachel” and “Variations on a Slovakian Theme” on The Music of Eric Zeisl in 2019.
Violinist Anna Kostyuchek has appeared as soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral player throughout the United States, South America, and Europe.
She has been a member of the Philharmonie der Nationen and the Stuttgart Bach Academy under Helmuth Rilling, where she served as Associate Concertmaster and Principal Second Violin, and with whom she has performed in the greatest concert halls of South America and Europe, including the Berlin Philharmonie, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Luzern, and the Teatro del Lago in Frutillar, Chile. As an orchestral musician she has performed under the batons of such renowned conductors as Michael Tilson Thomas, John Williams, George Mester, Grant Gershon, and David Newman.
As a recording artist she has recorded for numerous television and motion picture soundtracks, including Star Trek, Dexter, Fear Factor, Grey’s Anatomy, Survivor, Batman Returns, American Idol, The Voice, Dancing with the Stars, and had an onscreen role in the TV shows The Big Bang Theory and Shooter. Anna has also appeared in concert with Barbra Streisand, Andrea Bocelli, Tony Bennett, Burt Bacharach, Stevie Wonder, Black Eyed Peas, and Harry Connick, Jr.
As soloist, she has appeared with the Mozart Classical Orchestra and Santa Cecilia Orchestra. She is a member of the Los Angeles Master Chorale Orchestra, Santa Barbara Opera Orchestra, and is Associate Concertmaster of Riverside Philharmonic.
Driven by the endless possibility of sound, composer Ronen Landa creates music that is stirring, inventive, and bold. The press has hailed his work as “an astounding auditory journey” (Cinema Without Borders) and a “multi-layered feast for the ears” (Review Graveyard).
Arriving in New York City as an aspiring rock guitarist at age 17, Landa was soon enthralled by the classical, experimental and world music traditions he encountered. Initially writing songs and chamber works, his music now accompanies dozens of film, television, art, and new media projects.
Feature films Landa has scored include David Marmor’s Netflix chart-topping thriller 1BR, Nicholas McCarthy’s horror hits THE PACT (Sundance) and AT THE DEVIL’S DOOR (SXSW), and Ben Hickernell’s romantic drama A RISING TIDE (Showtime).
Documentaries include Andrew Napier’s MAD AS HELL (Hot Docs Conscious Media Award Winner), Cambria Matlow and Morgan Robinson’s BURNING IN THE SUN (PBS, Cinema for Peace International Green Film Award Winner),
Haydar Daffar’s landmark Iraq War film THE DREAMS OF SPARROWS (SXSW) and Nadav Kurtz’s PARAÌSO (NYTimes Op-Doc; Sundance; Tribeca Film Festival Best Short Documentary Award Winner).
Landa is a Sundance Institute Composer Fellow and Vilcek Foundation New American Filmmaker. In 2018 he received the Jerry Goldsmith Award for Best Song alongside co-writer/performer Anna Bulbrook for “Whiteout,” from Cambria Matlow’s documentary WOODSRIDER.
Currently, Landa resides in Los Angeles. In addition to his work, he serves as Associates Board Chair for Education Through Music – Los Angeles, a nonprofit organization that ensures children attending inner-city schools can receive a high quality music education.
For more information, please Ronen’s website: https://ronenlanda.com.
Cantor Jacqueline Rafii is delighted to join the Valley Beth Shalom family as its new Cantor, working alongside the wonderful Cantors Baron and Fox.
Cantor Rafii brings her vision for building, engaging, and invigorating Jewish community through uplifting music, creative initiatives, and spiritual leadership. She is so excited to get to know and work with our community as she directs and develops meaningful musical programs and services, launches new community groups and choirs, oversees our newly redesigned B’nai Mitzvah program, and shares holidays, special occasions, and sacred moments with our members.
Prior to joining VBS, Cantor Rafii served for five years as the Cantor of Shomrei Torah Synagogue, where she developed and directed all musical programming, creative prayer experiences, and music education. Highlights include Songstruck, a sold-out cantorial concert two years in a row which raised substantial funds for the synagogue and earned a full-page rave review in the Jewish Journal; the Shabbat Around the World series; Zamru Shabbat; Simcha Shabbat; and founding and directing the synagogue’s first-ever Youth and Teen Choirs. In 2019 and 2020, Cantor Rafii was honored by LA Mayor Garcetti’s office for her impactful work in the community.
Cantor Rafii was ordained as a Hazzan and earned her Master’s in Sacred Jewish Music from the Academy for Jewish Religion California. For her Master’s thesis, she conducted original fieldwork in the area of preserving, notating, and sharing Persian Jewish prayer melodies with communities around the world. She performed many of these pieces in her Senior Recital, Kol Haneshama, which is available to view below.
Prior to becoming a cantor, Cantor Rafii earned her JD from UCLA School of Law and practiced entertainment law. She also served as a cantorial soloist at major synagogues across Los Angeles, and she was the first-ever female prayer leader at the Iranian Jewish Senior Center’s High Holy Days services.
Cantor Rafii is a published composer and pianist, and performs Jewish music in Hebrew, Ladino, Farsi and English. She is an Alumna of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship. Cantor Rafii lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Lev, and baby daughter, Adira.
Bob Remstein has composed close to 50 Jewish liturgical works, including “A Heart of Wisdom,” commissioned and premiered by Cantor Mark Childs in 2016 to celebrate his 25 years as cantor, and then performed in Springfield, MA, by Cantor Martin Levson, backed by a full orchestra and chorus. Bob’s Sermon in Song, “Moses and the Rock,” was premiered in 2012 in Santa Barbara, and has since been performed several times throughout Southern California.
A founding member of the Helfman Institute composers’ group, Bob wrote a setting of “Pitchu Lanu” for the new CCAR Machzor, and in 2017, two of his pieces were performed in the premiere of the group’s concert, “David’s Quilt.” In late 2019, he composed two pieces for Cantor Ilan Davidson’s anniversary concert and album, while in 2002, he wrote a complete Sacred Service celebrating the 75th anniversary of Congregation B’nai B’rith in Santa Barbara. Bob is currently at work on a full-length musical version of “Noah and the Flood.”
In secular music, he scored numerous video games for SceneIt, arranged and produced music for the hit film, “Little Miss Sunshine,” and, as co-leader of the lounge/electronica group Supercasanova, has written and produced tracks used on many TV shows. He is also an active keyboardist, who has worked with such singers as Tia Carrere, Ben Vereen, Bootsy Collins, and the now 99-year-old Annette Warren, with whom he does the Professor Bob and the Old Broad shows, featuring music of the Great American Songbook. He is also currently the pianist for the San Fernando Valley Master Chorale.
David Shukiar is thrilled to serve as the cantor at TAE. He brings his love for music, Judaism, and children to bear on his Cantorial responsibilities. He is a magna cum laude graduate of UCLA, where he developed both his vocal and musical composition skills. The Guild of Temple Musicians has twice selected him as the best young composer–only three other composers have been so honored during the three decades the international award has been granted. His music is published by Transcontinental Music Publications, the largest publisher of Jewish music, and can be heard in concert halls and synagogues around the country. He has often visited communities as a Composer-in-Residence and has enjoyed compositional commissions from synagogues all over the world. He also writes for the stage. One of his many musicals is Benjamin and Judah, a modern play based on the Chanukah story. Benjamin and Judah has enjoyed productions in New York, Los Angeles, and San Diego.
At TAE, Cantor Shukiar is proud to interact with congregants of every age. He serves the needs of our community through bikur cholim, counseling and being there for the highs and lows of the cycle of life. Cantor Shukiar’s involvement in the Early Childhood Center (ECC)helps to connect the children to TAE and give them a pride in their newly forming Jewish identities. He also teaches in our religious school and oversees the B’nai Mitzvah Program, working with each candidate to not only master the Torah, Haftarah, and liturgy, but to also to gain a deeper personal understanding of our traditions and writings. Cantor Shukiar also supports the activities of our Youth Groups, especially those activities dealing with Tikkun Olam, the healing of our world. He loves to see our newest young adults organize and carry out Tikkun Olam projects, working to build a stronger world for future generations, and thereby reinforcing our teens’ Jewish identities. Cantor Shukiar oversees and facilitates all aspects of TAE’s music program. He works directly with the Junior Choir, giving our children an outlet to explore Jewish music on a personal level. The choir is not only a fixture at our monthly Family Shabbat Celebrations, but they also enhance the celebrations of Chanukah and Pesach at local retirement communities. He also works directly with TAE’s Adult Choirand the Band of Milk and Honey to help enhance our spiritual experiences through music.
Immediately after earning her Doctorate in Keyboard Collaborative Arts from the University of Southern California (USC) in 2009, Tali was offered a faculty position as Vocal Coach and Accompanist at the Herb Alpert School of Music at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). At CalArts, Tali enjoyed a decade of mentoring undergraduate and graduate-level students, teaching weekly Master Classes, providing private coachings, overseeing opera productions, accompanying voice recitals and other performances and collaborating with fellow faculty members. In 2018, Tali was offered a teaching position at California State University in Northridge, where she now heads the Collaborative Piano Program, helping to train the next generation of vocal and instrumental accompanists. At CSUN, Tali teaches the Collaborative Piano Colloquium, a master class for pianists, singers and instrumentalists, as well as mentors several solo piano students.
Tali maintains a busy performance schedule in addition to her academic teaching career. In the spring of 2010 she returned to Carnegie’s Perelman/Stern Stage as pianist for the world premiere of Eric Whitacre’s newest song cycle “The City and the Sea” (a Distinguished Concerts International in New York (DCINY) concert). Later that year she was invited by the American Composers’ Forum (ACF) to serve as an adjudicator in their annual national songwriting competition and perform in the final concert featuring the winning new works for voice and piano. In opera, Tali collaborates regularly with the Los Angeles Opera and Long Beach Opera companies. In the spring of 2011, she served as music director for LA Opera’s concert reading of the newly commissioned “Dulce Rosa”, collaborating with composer Lee Holdridge and librettist Richard Sparks in presenting the new opera to Placido Domingo. The opera was not only picked up by the company, but after hearing her play, Mr. Domingo requested that the composer re-orchestrate the score to include piano and immediately hired Tali for the pianist position in the production. In the summer of 2013, she was the pianist for LA Opera’s production of Hans Krasa’s Brundibar, an opera performed in the Theresienstadt concentration camp and part of L.A. Opera Musical Director James Conlon’s groundbreaking “Recovered Voices” project. Additionally, Tali serves as Music Director and Accompanist for LA Opera’s Education and Community Programs Department, producing recurring citywide tours of company favorites such as The Marriage of Figueroa in partnership with the Los Angeles United School District (LAUSD).
Rabbi Arik Wollheim, born and raised in Israel, has served as Chazan of Beth Jacob Congregation in Beverly Hills, CA since February 2013. In addition to leading Shabbat and holidays services, Arik directs a volunteers’ choir, is involved in various capacities with teaching both adults and youth, and is fully immersed in his pastoral duties such as attending to those in need or cultivating new membership.
After graduating from Yeshivah Yavneh, he then became the head soloist of the Israeli Military Choir. Arik holds both Bachelor’s (Brooklyn College) as well as Master’s (SUNY Purchase) degrees in Music & Opera studies. Despite his age, Arik has already performed in a variety of over 30 roles both in opera and concert works. In recent years Arik has been performing extensively at concerts of Cantorial, Jewish and Israeli music throughout the world.
His accomplishments include winning the famous Hassidic Song Festival in Israel, being a scholarship recipient of the American-Israel Cultural Foundation, winning the Sharet Competition and being selected a member of the International Vocal Arts Institute conducted by the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. In 2004 he released his solo CD, “Return to Zion”, a collection of Cantorial works accompanied by a full Symphony Orchestra.
First imbued with the love and foundations for the cantorial art by his father, Arik advanced his studies with the legendary cantor Itzhak Eshel. Arik has been teaching B’nai Mitzvah for 25 years, and has created and led adult and youth choruses both in Israel and the US. He has led inspiring Shabbat and holiday services at approximately 100 synagogues in four continents and has become known for his rich voice and unique approach and style of Davening.
In 2001 Arik took his first position as a full time Chazzan of Congregation Agudath Sholom in Stamford, Connecticut where he stayed 12 years. In December 2008 Arik returned to Israel commuting to Connecticut every month while studying at Hebrew University of Jerusalem for a PhD, conducting research on contemporary chazzanut as a case study in ethnomusicology. In addition, Arik served as a faculty member at the Jerusalem Cantorial School.
Arik and his wife Tehilah have two daughters: Yehudit and Emmanuelle.