Aliza Schechter is a movement midwife, dancing with you toward the life you desire. She weaves her training as a Board Certified Dance/Movement Therapist, Kohenet: Hebrew Priestess and lifelong dancer to create transformative movement rituals and experiences that reveal the soul's truth through the body's language.
The guiding image of Miriam’s Circle Dance arrived for Aliza in 2014, while writing her Master’s Thesis in Dance/Movement Therapy at Sarah Lawrence College. Exploring the Exodus story as an initiatory map, Aliza researched the spiritual initiations of three Jewish movement pioneers: Emilie Conrad (founder of Continuum Movement), Janet Adler (founder of Authentic Movement) and Anna Halprin (founder of Tamalpa Institute and the Life/Art Process). In the process, Aliza discovered parallels between descriptions of the moving body in the Jewish mystical tradition and the movement modalities created by each movement pioneer.
This map has continued to inform and shape Aliza’s path in significant ways. Like the women above, Aliza was recently faced with an initiation catalyzed by a health crisis, one that asked her to completely surrender the known for the unknown and be willing to rebirth herself. This involved following a soul call to Danyasa Eco-Retreat, trading the concrete jungle of New York City (home of 32 years) for the lush green jungles of Costa Rica and an entirely new way of life. The journey of the last year has asked Aliza to honor the body's messages more deeply than ever expressions of the soul’s truth. It's meant acting and living from what are considered more “feminine” or embodied modes of being such as instinct, intuition, feeling, sensation, and dreams despite the rational mind’s protest or the ego’s fear of change. It has meant total and complete surrender.
This is what Song of the Sea Retreat is about: learning to trust mystery as it expresses through the wisdom of our bodies to create a life in alignment with what we truly desire. Together we’ll spend Passover 2019 dancing this map, listening deeper for what brings us alive, and learning how to co-create with spirit through embodied tools and practices.
Aliza holds a BA in Dance & English from Columbia University and an MS in Dance/Movement Therapy from Sarah Lawrence College. She is a proud graduate of Kohenet: the Hebrew Priestess Institute. She earned her Yoga Teaching Certification from OM Yoga Center in NYC, with other yoga certifications along the way. Currently, Aliza works as Guest & Retreat Liaison at Danyasa Eco-Retreat, where she is honored to serve.
"Aliza is a gift to all those who come in contact with her. The sweet gentle energy of her movement work translates into a deep and powerful connection with one's body and its divinity." -Arthur Fried, former board member of Romemu
"Aliza teaches every class to each student, with her whole heart. She loves teaching, and you can feel it -- in your body and your soul. Week after week, I leave her class much closer to freedom than when I entered. Ali is a teacher of movement the way it is meant to be." -Joy Solomon, Director & Managing Attorney, The Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention at The Hebrew Home at Riverdale
"Aliza has been a tremendous help to me. Yoga has really helped my work life balance. It’s also helped my sense of well being. Aliza has been a great guide on this journey. She is able to teach at the level of one’s ability but also to challenge your practice. She is always meticulously prepared for each lesson with a plan for combining mind and body oneness in a gratifying way. My deepest thanks. -Steven J. Corwin M.D, Chief Executive Officer, New York Presbyterian Hospital
Taya Shere (Taya Mâ) plays passionately in realms of transformative ritual, embodied vocalization, and Jewish ancestral healing. Taya Mâ is on faculty at Starr King School for the Ministry, where she trains emergent clergy across faith traditions. As practitioner of both Ancestral Lineage Healing and Somatic Experiencing, she specializes in transforming collective and intergenerational Jewish trauma.
Taya Mâ is the co-founder and Rav Kohenet of Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute, an ordination program for spiritual leaders reclaiming and innovating embodied, earth-honoring, feminist Jewish practices. She is co-author of The Hebrew Priestess: Ancient and New Paths of Jewish Women’s Spiritual Leadership and Siddur HaKohanot: A Hebrew Priestess Prayerbook. Taya Mâ co-founded the Kohenet Virtual Temple, an online school for spiritual study, where she teaches courses on Jewish Ancestral Healing, Embodied Presence and Pleasure as Prayer.
Taya Mâ a renowned musician, composer and devotional chant leader whose songs weave faith communities across the world. Her chant albums — This Bliss, Wild Earth Shebrew, Halluyah All Night and Torah Tantrika — have been heralded as “cutting-edge mystic medicine music.” She is Spiritual Leader Emeritus of a Washington D.C. area Jewish congregation and completed graduate studies in the Folklore of Religion at the University of Pennsylvania. She co-leads Makam Shekhina, a multi-religious Jewish & Sufi spiritual community based in the California Bay Area. Taya Mâ offers individual ancestral lineage healing sessions virtually and leads Ancestral Lineage Healing workshops in the Ancestral Medicine model.
“Taya Mâ embodies devotion. She breathes ritual and her presence is a direct transmission of love - true and clear. Taya Mâ’s presence demands presence and is a catalyst for transformation. She continues to be my biggest ally, support and witness on my path.” — Yael Illah, recording artist & ceremonial drum-maker
“Taya Mâ’s music is devotional, rhythmic and passionate. Each album is a call to prayer, an invitation to live more fully into your body. Let this music be a guide in your spiritual practice, or carry you on your way to the next big thing. Taya Mâ’s songs are foundational to Kohenet Hebrew Priestess prayer services, and help me connect to a female form of God, to ancient women archetypes, and to myself. A deep bow of gratitude to this great artist, leader, and ritual visionary of our time.” — Rae Abileah, Kohenet & co-creator of The Climate Ribbon
Co-Founder of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute
Rabbi Jill Hammer, PhD, is a priestess, poet, scholar, liturgist, author, and ritualist. She is the co-founder and Rav Kohenet (teacher-priestess) of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute, and the Director of Spiritual Education at the Academy for Jewish Religion. She is the author of a number of books, including Sisters at Sinai: New Tales of Biblical Women, The Jewish Book of Days: A Companion for all Seasons, The Omer Calendar of Biblical Women, The Hebrew Priestess: Ancient and New Visions of Jewish Women’s Spiritual Leadership (with Taya Shere), Siddur haKohanot: A Hebrew Priestess Prayerbook (with Taya Shere) and The Book of Earth and Other Mysteries. She has written for anthologies, websites, newspapers, and academic and poetry journals, and has taught workshops, led rituals, and given readings of her work all over the United States and in Canada, England, and Germany.
“Jill Hammer is among the most creative spiritual teachers in the Jewish world today.” (Rabbi Jay Michaelson, author, journalist, meditation teacher)
“She is a natural healer of souls. I have been deeply enriched, inspired, and renewed by her work. (Rabbi Kaya Stern-Kaufman, founder of Rimon Resource Center for Jewish Spirituality)
“Her poetic gifts enhance our understanding.” (Betsy, participant, November 2018)
“She brings magic.” (Dr. Peter Pitzele, creator of Bibliodrama.)
Co-founder of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute
RABBI JILL HAMMER
As a child, Shoshana Jedwab would drum on parked cars, plates, tables,
books and other people's bodies. Shoshana Jedwab is an intuitive
percussionist, singer-songwriter, worship leader and prize-winning Jewish
educator bringing depth, voice, humor, original compositions and sizzling
rhythm to her grateful audiences. Her sacred music is heart-opening,
hip-shaking music that joyfully grounds body and spirit. The appealing,
original songs of Shoshana's 2016 debut album, "I Remember", and her 2018
zipper song single, "Where You Go", are sung in churches, synagogues,
mosques, weddings and protest marches. Shoshana Jedwab gives concerts,
leads worship and drum circles, and has performed in Germany, the UK, and
"I had a truly wonderful experience last evening with Shoshana at SoulSpa
and then the Prayer Drumming that followed. Honestly, one of the best
events at Romemu!"
- Cathy Harding, New York, NY
I had the best time at Shoshana Jedwab's drum circle tonight! Talk about
catharsis... and she is really funny!
- Mallory Rubin, New York, NY
Faculty of Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute
SHOSHANA BATSHEMESH JEDWAB
Keshira haLev Fife is a Kohenet (Hebrew Priestess), who sprinkles sparkles, disrupts expectations, and offers blessings wherever she goes. Founder and leader of Kesher Pittsburgh, she also delights in taking her unique blend of spiritual connection and expression across oceans and timezones in order to create space for deep, meaningful and transformative experiences grounded in Jewish tradition and values. She pours love and intention into her work as a community shepherdess, life spiral ceremony facilitator, ritual creatrix, liturgist, songstress, public speaker and writer. Deeply convicted in her belief that we must work together toward a better day, she is committed to tending the community hearth, countering culture, holding space for challenging conversations, learning to live with paradox, standing proudly as a Jewish woman of colour and moving toward collective liberation.
"Keshira has such a beautiful and welcoming energy and is a delight to work with. I feel such warmth exuding from her and I am spellbound each time I am in her presence."
- Lisa G
"Keshira is an incredible leader of ritual, infusing Jewish tradition with new life. Keshira's positive energy, knowledge and passion clearly come through with everything she does." - Shannyn E