Prayer Leader Summer Institute: Faculty

Rabbi Debra Reed Blank
Rabbinical Ordination, Jewish Theological Seminary 
Ph.D., Jewish Theological Seminary

Debra Reed Blank teaches the history, structure and theology of Jewish liturgy. In addition, she is a visiting scholar at Brandeis University’s Women’s Studies Research Center, where she is writing a book about innovative Jewish rituals for newborn girls. From 1998 to 2009, Blank taught liturgy and Talmud at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. She has also taught at the Academy for Jewish Religion in New York and the Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow.

Debra Blank

Cantor Vera Broekhuysen, MJEd and Can'16
Cantorial Ordination, Hebrew College
Vera the cantor of Temple Emanu-El of Haverhill, MA. Vera was ordained by Hebrew College in June of 2016, when she also earned her Master's Degree in Jewish Education. Vera sings as a soprano with the Zamir Chorale of Boston. She also performs in the band of Temple Emanu-El of Providence, RI, on vocals and drum, for their Shabbat Chai musical Kabbalat Shabbat services. Vera has served trans-denominationally as cantorial soloist, professional leyner (Torah reader), and ba’alat t’fillah (prayer leader) at communities in Massachusetts and Vermont, including Boston Synagogue, the Jewish Community of Amherst, MA, Temple Hillel B’nai Torah in West Roxbury, MA, and Israel Congregation of Manchester, VT. Vera also tutors b’nei mitzvah students and adult learners privately.Vera is a Justice of the Peace in Massachusetts, and has officiated at weddings, b’nei mitzvah, baby namings, and other lifecycle events. Vera lives in North Andover, Massachusetts, with her husband and two sons.


Joel Bresler
Joel Bresler is the publisher of www.sephardicmusic.org and also collaborates with the Jewish Music Research Centre at Hebrew University on re-releases of Sephardic 78-rpm. He received an MBA from the Harvard Business School and works in the administration at Northeastern University. He is also an accomplished executive and entrepreneur with experience leading corporations and new ventures in business development and general management. Key past accomplishments include business development for best-selling electronic media and software products. Joel co-founded two firms sold to public companies, including one to Microsoft.


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

Cantor Jeff Klepper
Hebrew Union College/Jewish Institute of Religion
Jeff Klepper is a practicing cantor and one of the world's leading composers of contemporary synagogue music. Several of his compositions, including "Modeh Ani" and "Lo Alecha" (both written with Klepper's former music partner, Rabbi Dan Freelander), have become synagogue standards. Their setting of "Shalom Rav," composed in 1974, is the defining Jewish melody of a new style of worship, bridging varied traditions and connecting multiple generations. Klepper, who has served since 2003 as cantor of Temple Sinai in Sharon, Mass., holds an honorary Doctor of Music from his alma mater, Hebrew Union College.

Jeff Klepper

Lisle Kulbach
Mulitinstrumentalist Lisle Kulbach got her Bachelor of Music degree from New England Conservatory as a harpsichord major.  In the 1970s, the playing of strings, winds and singing in the early music group, Quadrivium, led to Lisle becoming a founding member of the internationally acclaimed Voice of the Turtle, the Sephardic music group, where she plays early fiddles, kemenje, violin, psaltery, and sings.  Extensive studies by Voice of the Turtle of Sephardic music has included learning from field recordings by ethnomusicologists in Israel.  Voice of the Turtle has produced 12 recordings.  

woman with instrument


 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 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

Cantor George Mordecai
Cantor George Mordeca weaves his rich cultural heritage into his work as a performer and cantor.  Born in Sydney, Australia to Iraqi and Indian Jewish immigrants, he was immersed from an early age in the musical and liturgical traditions of his family.He went on to help lead services at the Sephardic Synagogue in Sydney and appeared at various multicultural music festivals around Australia.  George also sang with the Renaissance Players, a renowned and innovative early music ensemble based at Sydney University, and with the Capella Floriani, a musical and theatrical company devoted to a spiritual vision of the performing arts. Prior to receiving his Cantorial investiture and master’s degree in sacred music from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2000, George worked for many years at the Emanuel synagogue in Sydney where he was lovingly mentored by Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins, Cantor Michael Deutsch and Rabbi Brian Fox. He went  on to work as a cantor in Philadelphia, Miami, Stamford and is currently the Cantor at Temple Israel Center in White Plains, New York. George has performed Sephardic and Judeo-Iraqi  liturgical repertoire in concert halls and synagogues in England, Paris, Israel, and various cities around the U.S. He has also performed in interfaith settings with Middle Eastern, Indian and African American musicians. In 2007 he met Patrick Quigley, artistic director of the world renowned choral ensemble Seraphic Fire, and together they developed a performance project, Shalom/Pax, which drew from the rich motivic and melismatic textures of the  Gregorian and Iraqi Jewish musical traditions.George has devoted his life to pursuing a vision of devotional music that speaks to the sacred interconnectedness of all humanity and continues to work on projects that support this vision.


Rahel Musleah
Columbia University, Jewish Theological Seminary

Through the vivid prism of her family's story, Rahel Musleah introduces audiences to the distinctive heritage of the Jews of India and Iraq. The seventh generation of a Calcutta family, she traces her roots to seventeenth century Baghdad. Rahel is an award-winning journalist, author, singer, speaker, and educator. Her articles have appeared in The New York Times, Hadassah magazine, Jewish Woman and numerous other publications. Her books include: Apples and Pomegranates: A Family Seder for Rosh Hashanah (Lerner/Kar-Ben); Why On This Night? A Passover Haggadah for Family Celebration (Simon & Schuster) and B’Kol Arev: Songs of the Jews of Calcutta (Tara), a compilation of more than 50 songs for Shabbat, holidays and special occasions. Her CD of Shabbat and holiday melodies is called Hodu: Jewish Rhythms from Baghdad to India. Rahel also leads tours of Jewish India informed by her distinctive “insider’s” perspective. Rahel is a graduate of Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. She sings with New York’s Zamir Chorale and enjoys Israeli dancing. She lives in Port Washington, NY, and hopes to pass down the legacy of the Indian Jewish community to her two children, Shira and Shoshana.


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

Hazzan Elias Rosemberg
Hazzan Rosemberg obtained the degree of Hazzan and Singing Professor from Seminario Rabínico Latinoamericano in 1994. In addition to his vocal training, he studied music theory and harmony at the Manuel de Falla Conservatory of Music. In 2001, Hazzan Rosemberg moved to the United States and served as the cantor of Temple Emeth in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, until 2007. He is currently the cantor of Temple Emanuel in Newton, Massachusetts, the largest Conservative synagogue in New England. In 2002, Hazzan Rosemberg was appointed to sing the memorial prayer at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, at the Cantors Assembly Convention. He also had the honor of singing in concerts both in Barcelona and Madrid in the 2016 Cantors Assembly Mission to Spain.Hazzan Rosemberg performs regularly with the Bostonian Opera and Concert Ensemble and the Zamir Chorale of Boston. He is currently the New England Region chair for the Cantors Assembly and has served in their national executive council. He is the immediate past president of the New England Board of Cantors and has served as cantorial coach in the cantor-educator program at Hebrew College. He is featured on three of the Cantors Assembly albums: Encore, The Spirit of Jewish World Music, and The Spirit of Celebration, and has released his own album, My Beloved Prayers and Songs. In 2016, he was the recipient of Masorti Olami’s Hiddur Mitzvah award, the first cantor from Latin America to receive this honor.

Cantor Rosemberg
Zafer Tawil
Zafer Tawil is an accomplished Palestinian musician based in New York City, Zafer Tawil is a virtuoso on oud, violin, and qanoun, and is a master of Arabic percussion. He has performed with numerous musicians, ranging from the pop star Sting to avant-garde composer/performer Elliot Sharpe to masters of Arabic music such as Simon Shaheen, Chab Mami, Bassam Saba, and George Ziadeh, among many others. Zafer has composed music for a number of film soundtracks, most recently Jonathan Demme’s My Favorite American (not yet released), Rachel Getting Married, andthe documentary Until When. He has held workshops on Arabic music at numerous universities throughout the United States. CDs include “Mumtastic,” by Shusmo; Gaida Hinawi’s debut CD, “Levantine Indulgence”; and two CDs by Amir AlSaffar’s Two Rivers: “Two Rivers Musicians,” and the yet-to-be-released, “Enaana.”



 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

Joey Weisenberg 
Musician, prayer leader, author and teacher, Joey Weisenberg is the Creative Director of the Mechon Hadar's Center for Jewish Communal Music, which seeks to empower Jewish community-building through music. Joey works to educate and train communities around the world to unlock their musical and spiritual potential, and to make music a lasting and joy¬-filled force in shul and in Jewish life.  Joey runs various workshops and trainings across the country, including the Singing Communities Intensive each December at Mechon Hadar. Joey has authored Building Singing Communities, and The Torah of Music, (summer 2017), published by Mechon Hadar, and is a multi-instrumental musician, singer, and composer. His nigunim, published in 6 albums and a Songbook, have become popular worldwide.



Marcia Spellman
Recruitment and Enrollment Coordinator