2018 Prayer Leader Summer Institute: Faculty

Ellen Allard 

Recording Artist, Composer, Performer, Educator
With over 30 years experience performing and teaching secular and Jewish music for young children and their grownups, Ellen charms audiences with her interactive, infectious, and entertaining music. She has released 14 recordings and 7 songbooks, has composed over 250 songs, and her music has been published by others on 30 recordings and in 10 books. 

Ellen draws on a rich tradition of musical experiences in presenting her lively and captivating performances, keynotes and workshops for family audiences and educational conferences across the United States, Canada and abroad. A former Elementary School Vocal Music teacher and Early Childhood classroom and music teacher, she is a classically trained pianist, having begun her formal piano studies at the age of five. She studied flute and piccolo through elementary and high school, and taught herself to play acoustic guitar while a student in college. She also dabbles with djembe, banjo, ukulele, autoharp, recorder, and spoons! 

Ellen is a graduate of Boston University, with a Bachelor's degree in Music. She earned her Master's degree in Early Childhood Education from Arcadia University and is a Certified Holistic Health Coach trained at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in NYC. Ellen is certified to teach Baby/Toddler Yoga for babies through 2 year olds, and Kidding Around Yoga and Yoga Yeladim for 3 - 12 year olds. Blessed with 2 beautiful daughters, 2 sweet sons-in-law, and 3 delicious grandsons, Ellen makes her home in Worcester, MA. Learn more about Ellen at www.ellenallard.com. 

Ellen Allard

Noah Aronson
Composer, Performer, Educator
Noah Aronson is an energetic and soulful composer/performer whose unique musical style propels his music into communities across North America, Israel, and Europe. Noah earned a degree in Jazz Composition and Piano from Berklee College of Music in Boston and held the position of Composer-in-Residence at Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley, MA. Noah conducted the Manhattan HaZamir Choir from 2008-2010 and his choral music received an honorable mention in the 2009 GTM Young Composer’s Award.

Noah released his first solo Jewish album in May 2011 and the title song ‘Am I Awake’ was a winner in the NewVoices song competition at NewCAJE in 2011. Noah’s album ‘Left Side of the Page,’ released in 2013, has received wide-spread acclaim for its musical settings of poetic selections from the Mishkan Tefilah Prayer Book. In 2015, Noah partnered with Behrman House, the largest distributor of Jewish educational materials, to create an innovative, music-based curriculum entitled Hebrew in Harmony. His music has also been featured on two compilations from the PJ Library series. 

Noah is currently serving as the Creative Director of Sacred Music NY, a non-profit organization he helped to create, that organizes concerts around New York City bringing together spiritual musicians from diverse backgrounds to inspire interfaith dialogue and social change. He also chairs the faculty of Hava Nashira and serves on faculty for several other musical retreats throughout the year including Shabbat Shira in Oconomowoc, WI and Shirei Chaggiah in London, England.

Noah’s music is sung in progressive communities and summer camps worldwide and has been included as part of the Cantorial curriculum at the Hebrew Union College’s Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music in New York City where he currently resides.


Rabbi Shefa Gold
Ordination, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
Rabbi Shefa Gold is a leader in Aleph: the Alliance for Jewish Renewal and received her ordination both from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and from Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. She is the director of C-DEEP  The Center for Devotional, Energy and Ecstatic Practice in Jemez Springs, New Mexico. Shefa composes and performs spiritual music, has produced ten albums, and her liturgies have been published in several new prayer-books. She teaches workshops and retreats on the theory and art of Chanting, Devotional Healing, Spiritual Community Building, Meditation, and trains Chant Leaders in Kol Zimra, a two year program for rabbis, cantors and lay leaders. She is a resource faculty for the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and a fellow for CLAL’s Rabbis without Borders. She was recently named “One of the 33 most Inspiring Rabbis in America,” by the Jewish Forward. Her new project is called SOULIFT, a one week immersion in spiritual practice designed to lift us into the Soul perspective. Shefa combines her grounding in Judaism with a background in Buddhist, Christian, Islamic, and Native American spiritual traditions to make her uniquely qualified as a spiritual bridge celebrating the shared path of devotion. She is the author of Torah Journeys: The Inner Path to the Promised Land, and In the Fever of Love: An Illumination of the Song of Songs published by Ben Yehuda Press, and The Magic of Hebrew Chant: Healing the Spirit, Transforming the Mind, Deepening Love  published by Jewish Lights.


Mitch Gordon

Mediator, conflict resolution specialist, professional musician, and educator

Mitch Gordon is a mediator, conflict resolution specialist, professional musician and educator. He is currently adjunct faculty at Hebrew College teaching Spirituality and Sacred Drumming, and teaches religious school at Temple Shalom, Temple Shir Tikva and Kesher, all in Massachusetts. He is a highly sought after guest lecturer/workshop presenter at conferences and seminars including at the Aleph Kallah, NewCAJE, Torahthon, LimmudBOSTON, Let My People Sing at Isabella Freedman, Jewish Men’s Retreat and most recently at the Jewish Theological Seminary in NYC. He is an active Temple drummer, playing many Kabbalat Shabbat services as Holy Drummer at Congregation B’nai Shalom in Westborough and also at Kerem Shalom in Concord. Mitch brings his sacred Davening from the Drums Shabbat services to shuls and places of worship, both Jewish and Interfaith.

Mitch Gordon

Cantor Marcie Jonas Can'10

Cantorial Ordination, Hebrew College
Cantor Marcie Jonas has been connected to Jewish music in a professional capacity for more than 35 years. She earned her BA in Speech Communication from Ithaca College and her MA in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York. She has also studied at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel and at the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, CT.  Jonas graduated and received her Cantorial Ordination from Hebrew College, School of Jewish Music, in 2010.  Her background in Jewish Education and her personal connection to the synagogue environment has helped her to be keenly aware of the growth and development of the synagogue service and the role that music plays in that process.

Cantor Marcie Jonas

Cantor Becky Wexler Khitrik, MAJS and Can'14

Cantorial Ordination, Hebrew College
Cantor Becky Khitrik received her ordination from Hebrew College (Newton Centre, MA) in 2014. Originally from Washington, D.C., she holds a bachelor of the arts degree in music and religious studies from Macalester College (St. Paul, MN), a certificate of study from the Zoltán Kodály Institute (Kesckemét, Hungary), and a master's degree of the arts in religion from the Yale Institute of Sacred Music (New Haven, CT). Cantor Khitrik is the assistant cantor and choir director at Temple Sinai (Sharon, MA) and the education coordinator at Temple Beth Zion (Brookline, MA). Cantor Khitrik also enjoys an active performance career as a klezmer clarinetist. She has performed internationally and has received acclaim for her technical mastery, warm tone, and unique use of vibrato. She has developed several models for Jewish services based around the use of traditional nusach--prescribed melodies and modes for jewish servies--and klezmer music.

Cantor Becky Khitrik


 Amy Lieberman
M.M., Yale University
Amy Lieberman is a conductor equally at home in orchestral and choral music. For five years, she was director of choral activities at the New England Conservatory of Music, where she conducted the NEC concert choir, chamber singers and women's chorus. Lieberman has also been a visiting assistant professor at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., where she was director of choral activities and music director for the opera and theater division.

Amy Liberman

Cantor Dr. Brian J. Mayer
Cantorial Ordination, Jewish Theological Seminary 
D.S.M., Jewish Theological Seminary
Brian J. Mayer, a recognized scholar of "hazzanut" (cantorial music), has served as dean of the school since 2011. Prior to his appointment at Hebrew College, Mayer taught for 14 years at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York as an assistant professor of hazzanut. Since 1989, he has also served as cantor of Temple Emanu-El in Providence, R.I. Mayer was featured in the ABC-TV documentary "To God's Ear," which was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2002. In 2008, he was the artistic director of "Shining Through Broken Glass: Kristallnacht Concert," a highly acclaimed multimedia production featuring Leonard Nimoy. In 2003, he produced the CD "Kolot Emanu-El." 

Brian Mayer


Cantor Michael McCloskey, MJEd and Can '06
Cantorial Ordination, Hebrew College 
Michael McCloskey has served since 2007 as cantor-educator at Temple Emeth in Chestnut Hill, Mass., where he facilitates daily minyan, serves as chazzan for Shabbat and holiday services and conducts adult-learning programs. Before that, he served as a cantorial solist-educator and taught at Prozdor of Hebrew College. A graduate of the Aspen Musical Festival Vocal Concert Studies program, McCloskey has sung with the Bostonians, a Boston opera company run by baritone and empresario Richard Conrad, and Kol Arev, the choral ensemble of Hebrew College.

cantor michael mccloskey

Hankus Netsky

New England Conservatory, Wesleyan University

A multi-instrumentalist, composer, and ethnomusicologist, Hankus Netsky is chair of New England Conservatory’s Contemporary Improvisation Department and founder and director of the Klezmer Conservatory Band, an internationally renowned Yiddish music ensemble. He has composed extensively for film, theater, and television, collaborated closely with such artists as Itzhak Perlman, Robin Williams, Joel Grey, and Theodore Bikel and produced numerous recordings, including ten by the Klezmer Conservatory Band.  He collaborated with Robert Brustein on two musicals, “Shlemiel the First.” produced by the American Repertory Theatre and “The King of Second Avenue,” produced in 2015 by the New Repertory Theatre in Watertown.  He is musical director, producer and arranger for “Eternal Echoes,” Itzhak Perlman's much-acclaimed collaboration featuring cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot (including a CD released on Sony Masterworks) and “In the Fiddler’s House,” Perlman’s klezmer touring and recording project (with two recordings on EMI). He composed the music for numerous films, including “Theodore Bikel: In the Shoes of Sholom Aleichem,” released in the summer of 2014. Netsky received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from New England Conservatory in composition and his Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University. He has been the recipient of a 2013 “Forward Fifty” award, a New England Conservatory Outstanding Alumni award, the Yosl Mlotek award for the perpetuation of Yiddish Culture, and NEC’s Louis Krasner and Lawrence Lesser awards for Excellence in Teaching.Temple University Press published his book, “Klezmer, Music and Community in 20th Century Jewish Philadelphia” in 2015.


Cantor Ken Richmond
Cantorial Investiture, Jewish Theological Seminary
Ken Richmond has served since 2006 as cantor and family educator of Temple Israel of Natick, Mass. He began his Jewish studies locally as a student at Solomon Schechter and Prozdor and as an apprentice to Cantor Charles Osborne. Richmond served as cantorial soloist for five years in Swampscott before graduating in 2004 from the H.L. Miller Cantorial School of the Jewish Theological Seminary. He plays several instruments, including violin, and his compositions include a Friday night Klezmer service.

Ken Richmond

Rav-Hazzan Dr. Scott Sokol
Cantorial Investiture, Jewish Theological Seminary 
PhD, Johns Hopkins
Rav-Hazzan Scott M. Sokol, PhD is completing his fifth year as Head of School at MetroWest Jewish Day School. A multi-professional, Scott is a cantor, rabbi and pediatric neuropsychologist, with 30 years experience in the field of education broadly defined. Scott began his academic career at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, where he was a research scientist, clinician and professor of neurology. He then moved on to Hebrew College where he served for seventeen years in senior academic leadership, founding both the cantorial program and the special education program. He was the first Dean of the School of Jewish Music and later served as the inaugural Korman Family Professor of Jewish Special Education. In 2014, Hebrew College awarded Scott the Benjamin Shevach Memorial Award for Jewish Educational Leadership, the highest award of the college, in recognition of his many contributions to the field. He is delighted to be returning to the college as an adjunct faculty member.


 Cantor Lynn Torgove, MAJS '11, Can '12
Cantorial Ordination, Hebrew College
Lynn Torgove is a mezzo-soprano and stage director and has had an international career as a soloist in many genres of classical music. She has served on the opera faculty at the New England Conservatory and the Boston University Opera Institute and currently teaches at the Boston Conservatory Vocal and Choral Institute. Torgove is co-founder of the communications training firm Gabriel Communications.

Lynn Torgove


Marcia Spellman
Recruitment and Enrollment Manager