Inspired by Martin Buber’s writing while procrastinating from piano practice at High School Jazz camp, Brian Yosef began a quest for finding the inner truths of Judaism, beyond dogmas and tradition, finding that truth ironically led him back to tradition. Brian Yosef currently teaches meditation and Jewish spirituality at Chochmat HaLev in Berkeley, where he serves as Sacred Music Director. He holds a Bachelor in Music from Eastman and received s’mikha (ordination) as Minister of Sacred Music from Reb Zalman Schachter Shalomi and Jewish Meditation Teacher from Chochmat HaLev. His band, Captain Zohar, plays original Jewish devotional and concert music. He lives in Oakland with wife Lisa and two children, to whom he owes constant gratitude for keeping him far from cheap, egocentric substitutes for G-d.
Brian Yosef Schachter-Brooks
Jeannette Ferber feels blessed to be able to share her voice at Chochmat HaLev. In 2008, her journey of renewed connection to Judaism and yearning for song led her to the Chochmat choir and later to the bimah. Originally from Ohio, she grew up performing in numerous school musicals and choral groups and took private voice lessons. However, after high school, singing fell into the distant background of her life for over a decade until its heartfelt reemergence at Chochmat. She can also be heard singing sacred music with the vocal ensemble, Ya Elah. Jeannette has a Masters degree in Public Health and works as a data analyst studying a range of reproductive health issues, from depression during pregnancy to Bisphenol-A (BPA) exposure. She lives with her husband, Cory, in Berkeley.
Bon Singer has been singing at Chochmat HaLev since before we had a home on 8th Street. She was originally asked to be part of the musical leadership by Rabbi Avram Davis. She says, “Weirdly enough, I think he asked me because he is a Bulgarian music-phile, and that is my area of musical expertise. That is why sometimes I will sing in that voice quality and harmonic style.” Bon is probably best known for her work with the internationally acclaimed vocal ensemble, Kitka. She served as artistic director, composer, arranger, and a singer for 14 years, and is recognized as one of the foremost directors of Bulgarian choral music in America. Bon’s musical experience ranges from performance in remote eastern European villages to performing with Olympia Dukakis. She has directed a number of ensembles, including most recently, Chochmat’s Tikkun Olam Chorus.
Eliyahu Sills has been performing for over 20 years on upright bass, bansuri (the bamboo flute of India), and Turkish and Arabic ney (the reed flute of the Middle East). In the early 1990s, he studied the upright bass at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City. Deeply influenced by teachers Makanda Ken McIntyre, Arnie Lawrence, and Reggie Workman, Eliyahu began performing as a sideman and bandleader in renowned jazz clubs such as The Village Gate and Small’s. After leaving NYC, he studied North Indian music on the Bansuri under G.S. Sachdev, and began performing Middle Eastern music on the ney, which he studied in Istanbul with Neyzen Omer Erdogdular and Neyzen Ahmet Kaya, and in Morocco with Akdii Abdesalaam. He currently performs with many musicians in the SF area and throughout the country, and leads his nationally touring band, The Qadim Ensemble.
Peter Allen has been playing clarinet since fourth grade, with occasionally heavy doses of chamber music and musicals, a smattering of New Orleans and klezmer, and a predilection for sappy Yiddish ballads. He loves to play with the wonderful musicians in the band at Chochmat HaLev, where he has been playing regularly since 2011. Peter also plays tenor saxophone with Josh Jones’s Latin Jazz Orchestra at La Pena, and he has studied and performed at the Jazzschool in Berkeley. Peter lives in Berkeley with his wife, Lynne-Rachel Altman, and their two daughters and works as an attorney for the California Public Utilities Commission, focusing primarily on energy and environmental issues.
Lior Tsarfaty is a professional musician and a graduate of both the Voice, Sound and Music Healing program of the California Institute of Integral studies and the Vox Mundi School of Voice and Transformation. He is also a student at The Hakomi Institute of California – a body- and mindfulness-oriented psychotherapy. After he came from Israel to the Bay Area, he started gathering prayers and chants and founded the “Prayer Songs Project,” which brings together prayers and sacred music from different cultures and countries into a concert of art and community. Lior’s passion is to intertwine music and personal transformations: he works with individuals and groups. For more information: Pepolior@gmail.com, 510-704-8232
Bruce Silverman is a drummer, world percussionist, and music educator, schooled in numerous musical forms. He has studied African, Afro-Brazilian, Cuban, and Haitian drumming and spirituality, as well as North Indian music, orchestral, jazz, and rock drumming. Bruce founded and continues to direct the Sons and Daughters of Orpheus: a drumming and healing community offering weekly groups and seasonal rituals to the Bay Area. The Orpheus community explores Afro-Brazilian “bateria” music, hand drumming, and world spirituality. Bruce also plays dumbek, tar, and other North African and Middle Eastern instruments and is on the faculty of Chochmat HaLev, where he has taught the art of drumming and accompaniment. Over the years he has specialized in playing and leading music in various healing contexts: liturgical music, sound healing, and mythic work with Robert Bly, Coleman Barks, Caroline Casey, and numerous others in the world of social artistry.
Aharon Wheels Bolsta
Aharon Wheels Bolsta has played with Chochmat’s Shirat HaLev ensemble since 2002 and appears as the drummer and percussionist on the Shirat HaLev CD. He plays North Indian tabla and bansuri as well as drum set, Middle-Eastern percussion, West African percussion, cajon, and many other instruments. Aharon also regularly plays sacred Jewish music with the Saul Kaye/Elana Jagoda ensemble at Temple Beth El in the Peninsula and with Cantor Ilene Keys at Temple Sinai in Oakland, and he performs and teaches at Wilderness Torah festivals, synagogues all over the country, and with leaders such as Mia Cohen, the Kirtan Rabbi, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Achi Ben Shalom, Ibrahim and Issa Abdurrahmani, Hyla Shifra Bolsta (The Illuminated Kaddish), and many groups playing Sephardic music, Klezmer, Sufi, Turkish Classical music, Classical Indian music and Aharon’s own original sacred music. See his website at www.aharonwheelsbolsta.com.
By day, Josh Miele is a scientist who develops accessible information technologies for the blind, but for Shabbat he sheds the lab coat, grabs his electric bass, and dons a kippah to rock the house at Chochmat HaLev. He is also the bass player for the acclaimed Jewish avant rock ensemble, Captain Zohar. Josh’s elite musical pedigree is extraordinary, but is shrouded in kabbalistic mystery and cannot be discussed openly. His style is renowned for its funk roots, art rock sensibility, and raw danceability. It has been said that his music has the power to make even stone tablets get up and shake their stuff. Josh lives in Berkeley with his beautiful wife and two delightful children.
Yari Mander has been drumming in the Chochmat HaLev band for 10 years. He is the founder and lead teacher of Heart of Rhythm, a drumming school for adults. He is also a credentialed music teacher, teaching music currently to grades K-5 in the Oakland Unified School District. Visit his web site at YariMander.com.