Kol Hai was founded in 2014 by Rabbi Shir Yaakov Feit, one of this generation’s most prolific and creative Jewish composers. Shir created a musical legacy in the lineage of his teacher Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, founder of the Jewish Renewal movement.
Kol Hai continues today with this musical vision, under the leadership of one of Shir's most trusted collaborators, Kohenet Renée Finkelstein.
Kohenet Renée Finkelstein (aka Radharani)
Renée is a multi-disciplinary artist who weaves music, ritual, mysticism, and spiritual practice to help people stay connected to their hearts and innate wisdom. She has been part of the leadership of Kol Hai since 2016.
As an ordained Hebrew Priestess, Renée brings balance to Jewish leadership, emphasizing feminine approaches of healing, nurturance, openness, and joy. Renee tends ritual spaces, facilitating shabbat services, holiday gatherings, contemplative retreats, and life cycle events. She composes new melodies to Jewish liturgy that reflect the timeless potency of our ancient Hebrew language and prayers.
As a vocalist and producer, Renée has performed and recorded with many well-known musicians in the realm of sacred music. These artists include her former co-leader of six years, Rabbi Shir Yaakov. Other collaborators have included Kirtan Rabbi, Wah!, Shoshana Jedwab, Yoel Sykes, Sirgun Kaur, Elana Brody, and others. She has produced two original albums, the latest of which, “Time to Wake Up”, topped billboard New Age charts
Renée has a BA cum laude from Cornell University. She spent more than four years in India studying with great teachers of sacred music and devotional practice, engaging in meditation and energy practices, and journeying to some of the most remote pilgrimage places in the world. She is also a portrait painter, a sound engineer, a writer and editor, a vocal coach, and a teacher of Indian Mysticism.
Board of Directors / Kol Hai Visioners
A long time member of Jewish Renewal, Astraea brings 30 years of experience opening her heart and mind to the wisdom and mystery of our path. She is devoted to healing relationships, in service to repair of the soul, repair of the culture, and repair of the earth. She has 22 years of experience as a psychotherapist working with people of many beliefs, faiths, races, classes, gender identities, and sexual orientations. Astraea received a BA in Cultural Studies from Sarah Lawrence College, and an MSW from Smith College. She has post graduate training in Relational, Social Change, Somatic, Couple, Jungian, and Eco Psychotherapy. She keeps body and soul together through dancing, singing, and communing in nature with her sweet black dog. She is humbled and honored to be a part of Kol Hai’s new chapter of opening to the nourishment of the divine feminine.
Aleria Sarra, Secretary / Shomeret to the Kohenet
Serach/Aleria Sarra (she/her) is an artist, activist, writer, weaver and dreamer living on the unceded lands of the Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. She calls Kol Hai the shul of her soul because she believes deeply in it’s mystical and radical roots which extend the wings of Shekhinah across time and space to offer a magical mishkan to all seeking a healing and transformational experience of Mystery. She has worked in the area of maternal health, serving on the Board of The Shanti Uganda Society, as a Knowledge Leader at the Centre for Environmental Health Equity and as a Principal Investigator on Bonding through Bars, an international research project on maternal incarceration. She has also worked as a journalist for various publications and was the Associate Producer of a weekly newsmagazine show on PrideVision Tv.
Peter Dubitsky, Treasurer
Peter came to Kol Hai because he was captivated by the music. That was over two years ago. He recently joined the board with the intent of supporting the leadership of Kol Hai, to help Kol Hai continue and to nourish the community.
Peter is an acupuncturist, with a specialization in the treatment of pain conditions, though He also treats a wide variety of other problems or conditions. Peter was a professional member and chair of the NYS Board for Acupuncture which advises the NYS Department of Education on the requirements and responsibilities of the acupuncture profession, professional discipline and public protection. He also served on his college board when he was an acupuncture college administrator. He looks forward to supporting Kol Hai in its mission and vision.
In his free time Peter nurtures his creative self with landscape painting and music.
Andy Izenson has been a member of the Kol Hai community for three years and lives with their partners in a queer commune on unceded Lenape/Esopus land in the Hudson Valley. On the clock, Andy can be found providing legal support to non-traditional families and transgender community members at the Chosen Family Law Center and fighting for prison abolition with the National Lawyers Guild, and off the clock, their time is spent crafting, doing aerial silks, singing show tunes, and perfecting their vegan challah recipe. Andy grew up Reform and has been overjoyed to find a spiritual home in Kol Hai, from which they can explore the spaciousness and depth of community and Jewish practice as a pantheist transsexual time-traveling anarchist weirdo.
Nancy Judson, Membership Committee
Nancy is the mother of two adult women, a lover of movement who weaves dancing, singing, smiling and playing into almost every aspect of her life including at Kol Hai. As a member of the precious Kol Hai community, you will see her ”dancing her prayers” at services, tending to community needs with a full and open heart, answering your Kol Hai membership questions, and occassionally substitute teaching at the Forest Hebrew School. You will also see her in her role as Ulster County PJ Library Coordinator. Nancy and her husband, Bruce, have been members of Kol hai for three years.
Over the past 25 years, Nancy has served extensively on previous Temple and School Boards, served as Interim Religious School Education Director at a local synagogue and is currently responsible for organizing a monthly lunch for a soup kitchen in the City of Poughkeepsie. Most assuredly you can find Nancy helping to transform the lives of infants, seniors and all ages in between, through movement awareness, deep listening, touch and playful interactions in her work as a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner and Child’Space Method Parent Educator.
Rachel Swersey has loved Kol Hai and been deeply involved in the community since its beginning in 2015. She spends her weekdays as an art teacher, facilitating art experiences and helping to foster belonging amongst middle school students in Kingston, NY. She is mom to two teen/young adult children, and a furry dog son and lives in Highland. Whatever free time she has is spent making art, cooking, celebrating through movement, and hanging out with her partner. She is very honored to help to steer Kol Hai at this exciting phase.
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