This year our kids team is being designed and facilitated by some of the top professionals in early childhood and elementary school aged education including some of the great people listed below. Our programming will include activities that engage kids’ hearts, minds and bodies with creative art projects, movement, music, worship and play.
We will have separate programming for kids aged 2-5 year and kids aged 6-10.
All children under 4 must be accompanied by an adult.
SHAWN SHAFNER is a theater-maker, writer and educator. As creator and lead artist of The POOP Project, he has been inspiring critical conversations about sustainable sanitation through art and education since 2010. His NYC credits include performances on the stages of Madison Square Garden, Theater Row, Joe’s Pub, 59E59, The Culture Project, and Classic Stage Company. Shawn spent 2008 touring nationally as Pablo in Nickelodeon’s The Backyardigans Live!, and has been creating original ritual theater with Storahtelling since 2005. He is the recipient of a 2005 Spielberg Fellowship, holds a BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and works as a teaching artist in NYC schools and community centers with Arts for All. Shawn has been Storahtelling Artist-in-Residence at the JCC Manhattan Saul and Carol Zabar Nursery School since 2010, leads “Out of the Shabbox” family programs at Union Temple in Brooklyn, and is currently developing unique early childhood engagements with Storahtelling for Temple Shaaray Tefila with J-LINC, an initiative of The Jewish Education Project with generous founding from The Covenant Foundation.
Equal parts singer, ritual leader, experiential educator, rocker and social activist, Naomi Less energizes and moves audiences and participants with her passion for justice and open hearted performances. Founder of Jewish Chicks Rock, a program umbrella for initiatives Naomi runs to invite and empower young Jewish girls to pick up instruments and experess themselves, Naomi models the change she wants to see by touring worldwide with her band, providing concerts, worship services and workshops to participants of all ages. (Venues include Limmud conferences (Philadelphia, Colorado, NY, London, Los Angeles, Atlanta), ROI Schusterman Program in Israel, Foundation for Jewish Camp, the famous City Winery Downtown Seder, various Women’s Seders, synagogues and JCCs across the United States. Every summer, Naomi tours Jewish camps across North America, providing concerts, worship experiences and rock-shops and training to campers and counselors.
Naomi has been a songwriter, Jewish ritual musician, song-leader and rock-band leader for 14 years. In April 2011, Naomi released her new cd “The Real Me” which is available on was released in March 2011. Naomi was THRILLED to be invited to join the ranks of artists distributed by SOUNDSWRITE, a division of URJ Books and Music. Naomi is a recent contributor to g-dcast.com, a new animated cartoon single entitled “Shout ‘em Out” (The 10 commandments). Naomi serves on the UJA Federation of NY Gen-i taskforce (part of COJRR) and is a founding company member and the Director of Education and Training for Storahtelling, Inc.
Amanda Miller is an actor, writer, teaching artist, yoga instructor and massage therapist. Most recently, her theater piece One Breath, Then Another: An Interactive Yoga Show was granted a run as part of Theater for the New City’s Dream Up Festival in August and September, 2013. It is about her experience completing a yoga teacher training on an ashram in India. Before that, the piece was presented as a work-in-progress at Brooklyn’s Third Root Community Health Center in November 2012 (where Amanda teaches yoga) and Manhattan’s Dixon Place in March 2013. The show began as a memoir, published in January 2013 on Amanda’s own Lucid River Press. Excerpts from One Breath, Then Another: A Memoir have appeared in Freerange Nonfiction, Underwired Magazine, Om Times, Love Your Rebellion, So Long: Short Memoirs of Loss and Remembrance, and Runaway Parade. Her writing has also appeared in The Rumpus and UC Riverside’s Cratelit, among others. Amanda has performed original works of theater and literature at The Magnet Theater, The People’s Improv Theater, The Upright Citzens Brigade, The Tank, and more. She produces three monthly performance series that present comedy, literature, theater and music. She earned her BFA in Acting from NYU, her MFA in Creative Writing from The New School, and completed her teaching artist training with Community Word Project. She has taught religious school for the last three years at Beth Elohim, Kolot Chayeinu, and East End Temple, and will soon begin teaching at Union Temple. Amanda has been a company member of Storahtelling since 2011. www.onebreaththenanother.com.
SHIRA KLINE, aka ShirLaLa, is an internationally recognized performer and Jewish music educator. One of the Jewish Week’s “36 Under 36, The New Re-Engineers” of Jewish life, she travels across the country and internationally delivering a dynamic, interactive program of joy and spirit, story and song. Raised in the world of Jewish music and the tradition of Torah, Shira has worked for over a decade with a diverse array of Jewish communities to enliven rituals, holiday celebrations, and love for Jewish life and prayer. She blends words, story and music to creates a rich experience for children and adults alike.
ShirLaLa has performed in hundreds of venues including the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, The Toronto Ashkenaz Festival, The Jewish Museum on Fifth Avenue, the Alyeska Resort in Alaska, and stages in England, Italy, Australia and New Zealand. Her three “outrageously hip Jewish kiddie rock” albums, a favorite with the PJ Library, are played in over 25,000 homes and schools. Find them at ShirLaLa.com along with “Blog Sameach,” a Jewish family resource center.
Shira serves on the faculty of the Hava NaShira Music Institute, adjunct faculty of HUC-JIR Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music, and is a founding company member of Storahtelling and Lab / Shul where she is a ritual leader, maven, actor, writer, director and musician.
An important member of the Storahtelling community, this will be her 7th High Holiday service with the team. She will also be running the children’s programming during the High Holiday events.
Lia Lynn Rosen is an Artist-Educator offering her nature and spirit-based guidance through Clay Kodesh Arts and Learning, located just south of Santa Fe, New Mexico. She holds the MA in Art and Art Education from Columbia Teachers College, is a community-based arts educator, and is a Jewish lay leader in the region. She offers workshops and retreats in her work as ‘yotzeret’ (former) through the program, “Jewish through the Arts” (c) 5774. ClayKodesh.com
Valerie Issembert is a New York based actor and teaching artist. Credits include: The Happy Elf, dir. John Rando, 12th Knight, dir. Donald Byrd, Paris Syndrome at HEREarts with EXPgirl and Theatreworks USA’s inaugural tour of If You Give A Mouse a Cookie directed by Kevin Del Aguila. In 2008, Valerie joined the cast of the Birthright Israel Next monologues where she toured her solo piece about her experiences as an American Jew traveling in Israel. Most recently, Valerie completed a year of learning at the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education where she was in residence as an Arts Fellow developing her new piece, Peyes Envy. She is currently pursuing her MA in Educational Theatre at NYU and teaching part time at The Packer Collegiate Institute in BK, NY, and The Hewitt School in Manhattan.
Dara Kessler is a dentist by training, but an organizer of meaningful Jewish programming for kids by passion. After completing her undergraduate studies at Brandeis University, Dara earned her D.M.D. from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. After 10 years of practice she retired from dentistry in order to spend more time with her two young sons. For three years she helped to run the Family Programs and Hebrew School at The Shul of New York. She is honored to sit on the board of Storahtelling, and excited about helping with Family Programs at LabShul.
Rhona Silverbush studied psychology and theatre at Brandeis and holds a JD from Boston College Law School. After representing asylum seekers, she returned to her first loves, writing, theatre and teaching. She is the co-author of Speak the Speech! Shakespeare’s Monologues Illuminated (Faber and Faber, 2002) and has taught at Columbia University Teachers College. She has taught theatre to all age groups, currently teaching Shakespeare classes for NYC’s Shakespeare Society and Camp Broadway. She co-produced, directed, wrote and moderated Conversations with Shakespeare at Symphony Space in New York, now being edited for public radio. A freelance writer and editor, Rhona wrote celebrity-chef Tom Colicchio’s book, ‘wichcraft: craft a sandwich into a meal–and a meal into a sandwich, and is currently writing his next cookbook, as well as a book on US education and a series of books for toddlers. Since college, Rhona has been tutoring children for their B-Mitzvah ceremonies: she’s developed a curriculum that her students and their families report is spiritually moving and relevant and deepens their connection with their heritage. Rhona works with children with special needs to prepare them for this life cycle event. Finally and most importantly, Rhona is a smitten parent and step-parent.
Megan Sass has been a member of Storahtelling since 2008. Originally from Cincinnati, OH, she has worked as an actor, writer, and teacher. As a playwright, she has worked with Vagabond Theater Ensemble, Extra Pulp Ensemble (with whom her play Fanboy was a finalist in the Samuel French OOB Restival), Boz and the Bard, Grizzled Bear Productions, LeftHip Productions (winner of their From the Hip Festival), Shstrng Prdctns. As an actor, she has worked with International WOW (as part of the cast of Surrender, nominated for a Drama Desk for “Best Unique Theatrical Experience), The Public Theater, Odyssey Theatricals, Collaborative Stages, Shstrng Productions, Syracuse Stage, The Williamstown Theater Festival, Collegehumor.com and the Iron Mule Comedy Short Festival. She also performs musical stand-up, and blogs for Heeb Magazine. She works as a teacher and songleader at Temple Emanu-El and the 92Y.
Melanie Schwartz is a Jewish educator who originally moved to NYC to attend JTS. She has worked with children in numerous settings including Camp Ramah in the Berkshires, preschools, the JCC, and Hebrew Schools. She currently works at Shaaray Tefila Religious School. Melanie’s passions like in visual arts, nature, and eating cupcakes.
An award-winning educational company, Dreamcoat Experience introduces children to the world of Israel through fun play and explorations. Whether it’s Torah stories through music, Hebrew through yoga or Jewish values through circus, our children broaden their Jewish/Israeli identities (and learn important life skills!) by enjoying interactive and enriching experiences that truly resonate with them.
Dreamcoat Experience was founded by Stav Meishar, a performer and Jewish educator born and raised in Israel. With a history of over 5 years in creative education, Stav specializes in weaving her artistic skills into her teaching methods and has been creating meaningful experiences for Jewish children incorporating drama, music, circus, dance, yoga and more.