Rabbi Rolando Matalon, Co-Founder
Rabbi J. Rolando Matalon came to B’nai Jeshurun in 1986 to share the pulpit with his mentor and friend Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer. Together they transformed this small, declining synagogue into a revitalized congregation (that today has a membership of more than 1,800 households) committed to an inclusive approach to liturgy and community and dedicated to the work of education, social justice, and interfaith cooperation. Following the untimely death of Rabbi Meyer in 1993, Rabbi Matalon assumed BJ’s rabbinic leadership; in 1995 Rabbi Marcelo Bronstein—another student of Rabbi Meyer—joined him in rabbinic partnership, and in 2001 Rabbi Felicia L. Sol became the third member of the spiritual leadership of the congregation.
Rabbi Matalon serves on the boards of a number of agencies and organizations including American Friends of Parents Circle, the International Advisory Board of the International Center for Interfaith Dialogue (Doha, Qatar), Beit Tefillah Israeli-Tel Aviv, the President’s Advisory Council of Union Theological Seminary, Habitat for Humanity’s Leadership Council, and the Advisory Boards of Rabbis for Human Rights-North America and Storahtelling. Rabbi Matalon has received awards from the New York Board of Rabbis, the Jewish Peace Fellowship, and the New Israel Fund.
José Rolando Matalon was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1956. He attended the Universidad de Buenos Aires and the Université de Montreal, where he received a B.S. in chemistry. He went on to study at the Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano in Buenos Aires, with his teacher Rabbi Meyer, and attended the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for one year. In 1982 he came to New York to complete his studies for the rabbinate at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and he received his ordination and Master of Hebrew Letters there in 1986.
Rabbi Matalon is a founding co-director of Piyut North America, a partnership between B’nai Jeshurun and Hazmanah Le-Piyut in Israel. He plays the ‘ud (Arabic lute) and is a member of the New York Arabic Orchestra. Rabbi Matalon is married and has two daughters.
Yair Harel, Co-Founder
Yair Harel is the Founder and Director of Invitation to Piyut and a leading figure in the piyut revival movement in Israel. Harel has studied under a number of leading paytanim and musicians including Israeli national award winning musicologist Andre Hajdu, Rabbi Meir Attyah, and zarb (Persian drum) masters Roger Yshay and Daghmeshid Chemirani. Yair brings years of artistic creativity and scholarship to his work with Piyut North America. He serves as the Artistic Director of the Jerusalem Piyut Festival and The New Jerusalem Orchestra (2009, with Co-Director Omer Avital) and is a member of the Tefillat Ensemble (2001) and the Oman Chai Ensemble (2003). Also an experienced lecturer, Yair has led workshops and courses in traditional Jewish vocal music, Middle Eastern percussion and improvisation at such institutions as Hebrew University, the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, and The Jerusalem Academy High School for Music and Dance, among others.
Eva Heinstein, Executive Director
Eva Heinstein is an American Israeli ethnomusicologist and arts professional based in Boston, MA. In addition to her work with Piyut North America, Eva serves as Assistant Director of the Entrepreneurial Musicianship Department at the New England Conservatory. Prior to joining the NEC staff, Eva curated and produced public programs for the New Center for Arts and Culture, a Jewish presenter and cultural network in Boston. She holds an M.A. in Ethnomusicology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a B.A. from New York University in Musicology and Hebrew Literature. At Hebrew University, Eva was part of an interdisciplinary team of researchers at the Jewish Music Research Centre that developed the Thesaurus of Jewish Music, an e-resource for students, researchers and performers in the field of Jewish music. Eva has also served as co-chair of the CJP/PresenTense Social Entrepreneur Fellowship, which provides tools and connections to young innovators working to transform the Jewish community in Greater Boston.