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Rosh HashanahOur High Holy Days for Kids programs this year focuses on learning all about REST & RENEWAL. Both grown ups and kids will celebrate the beginning of the Shmita year shmita/sabbatical year, and learn about how LET IT GO.

2-5 year olds (must  be accompanied by guardian) will be creating dreamcatchers and writing blessings, pray-partying with ShirLaLa, making new friends and new year cards, playing parachute games, creating prayer flags, and more.

6-9 year olds will be writing and acting in an original story-play about the Shmita year, participating in fast-paced games and hands-on art projects, and join an interactive musical prayer-party time with Stephen.

10-13 year olds will explore the Torah stories for the High Holy Days through interactive drama and art, will participate in a personalized art project, and will be presented with active group challenges. The older teens will also be given the option to join the main Storah service if they choose – and start getting ready for their B Mitzvah year.

The Team

Naomi Less

Naomi-LessEqual 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

Amanda Miller 1 - web (1)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

EWD Headshot (CD)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 Lyn Rosen

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALia 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

Val Issembert

Valerie Issembert HEADValerie 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.

Rhona Silverbush

<imgclass=”alignright size-thumbnail wp-image-4344 imgborder” alt=”Rhona Silverbush Headshot 1″ src=”https://labshul.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Rhona-Silverbush-Headshot-1-150×150.jpeg” />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

MEGAN FLTC BKG FAV 22 SendableMegan 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.

Rachel Figurasmith (Coordinator)

RachelFigurasmith Headshot (1)Rachel Figurasmith has been working in youth development in a variety of roles and organizations for over a decade. A born-and-bred New Yorker, Rachel has worked with young people in schools, after-schools and summer camps all over the city and beyond. Currently, Rachel serves as the Education Director at the Jewish Journey Project, a new and revolutionary approach to supplementary Jewish education. She also works as a Trainer for Ramapo for Children, where she leads interactive workshops with youth staff all over the NYC area. Rachel is currently completing her MA in Jewish Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary and a Certificate in Jewish Special Education from Hebrew College. Rachel’s unique experience has laid the foundation for her to approach her work with young people through a lens of social change and a whole-person learning. She is thrilled to bring her passions to LabShul this year and to be coordinating kids programming! Please contact Rachel at [email protected]  with any questions about this year’s kid’s programming.

Stephen Figurasmith

Stephen Figurasmith is the Cultural Arts Director at the Samuel Field Y in Little Neck, Queens. Stephen has been both a musician and an educator for many years. He uses music education as a vehicle for teaching about Jewish and American history and culture, and to encourage conversations about equality and freedom. Stephen works with people from zero to one hundred on a daily basis. Stephen particularly loves working with young children and families and being part of the LabShul community.

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