LOS ANGELES, CA
Rabbi Aviva Funke
Recently ordained from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, Rabbi Aviva is thrilled to begin her work as School Rabbi at Wilshire Boulevard Temple’s Brawerman East Elementary. With a background in theatre and children's entertainment, Aviva brings enthusiastic passion, original music, and creative vision to Jewish life. During her schooling, Aviva initiated a Jewish life on campus program for the undergraduate college, facilitating Shabbat dinners, drum circles and group meditations. As a rabbinic intern at Beth Am and Mishkon Tephilo, Aviva planned and facilitated engaging Shabbat and holiday programs for youth and families, using lively music, educational games, and animated storytelling. Committed to re-enlivening communal prayer, Rabbi Aviva launched Na’or @ Mishkon, an enlightened Shabbat and soulful supperclub, offered every second Friday in Venice Beach. She has been married to her best friend Yosef for ten years, and they love raising their truck-loving child-of-a-clown 5 ½ year-old son EB together.
SAN DIEGO, CA
Cara Freedman is an award-winning playwright, director, producer, and composer of numerous full-scale Jewish rock musicals. Her innovative theater programs in San Diego have trained thousands of young actors and actresses over the past thirty years.
Cara's shows have been produced in major theaters, synagogues, summer camps, religious schools, Jewish and secular high schools, community centers, and drama clubs across the continent.
Cara is also a sought- after song leader and divides her time teaching Jewish music at Camp Jaycee, the Nierman Preschool, PJ Library, San Diego Jewish Academy, Shalom Baby, Congregation Ner Tamid, and Congregation Beth El. She is currently directing an acclaimed cast in the Purim Music CHAMILTON at Temple Solel.
Cara is the very proud mother of triplets: Evan, Alexa, and Jordan. She lives in San Diego, California with her fiance' James Doyle.
Morah Leora “Teacher Lee” Lazarus
Teacher Lee, also known as Morah Leora, is a developmental preschool teacher with over 30 years of teaching experience in South Africa and the United States. She has a degree in early childhood education and received specialized training in the Israeli Matal program, Handwriting Without Tears, and other kindergarten school readiness programs. Teacher Lee and her husband Leon write both secular and Judaic educational children's books. She is an energetic, progressive and caring educator who sees enormous value in allowing children the latitude to learn all the skills they need through play, music and art.
Teacher Lee believes families are the key component in any child’s education and goes to great lengths to maintain an open dialogue with parents of the children in her classes.
Teacher Lee founded and operated a non-profit called Play-To-Learn Preschool. This very successful program provided a free traveling preschool, that set up in donated spaces, in financially impacted communities. The program reached thousands of children and their families every year.
Teacher Lee currently teaches kindergarten readiness at San Diego Jewish Academy where she is proud to be a part of the team. She enjoys sharing her Judaica knowledge and teaching experience with her colleagues.
Chana Tolchin is very excited to be joining Rhythm ‘n Ruach as a facilitator. Growing up in Teaneck, NJ, Chana took voice and piano lessons and loved performing in her school and camp musicals. While at Ma’ayanot High School, she co-founded “Heartbeats,” a music and arts festival which raises money for a different charity every year and continues at Ma’ayanot today. Chana spent a gap year after high school in Israel, where her deep connection with Jewish music grew. She attended Barnard College where she majored in English and Creative Writing and held leadership roles in her campus Hillel. In 2013 she was a finalist of the 2ndAnnual Teaneck Cabaret Competition. Following her move to North County San Diego, she sang in a folk band and performs her own music at open mics. Chana is also a visual artist and teaches art workshops through her business, Brave Creative Arts. She loves spreading her passion for music and art with everyone!