Shira Yoga is a creative practice that integrates two authentic pathways: yoga and the global Jewish music of Piyut. This practice provides a flexible space for yogis of all levels to explore the richness of Jewish creativity and spirituality through the body. Shira Yoga classes are offered in diverse settings, ranging from Down Under Yoga in Brookline, MA to Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute for Religion and synagogues across New York and Boston. Our classes are led by an outstanding team of yoga instructors and musicians, including Rabbi Myriam Klotz (Institute for Jewish Spirituality), Rabbi Shuli Passow (B'nai Jeshurun), Julie Newman, (Hebrew College), and Dan Nadel.
Experiential Piyut Curriculum for Kids
We have developed Piyut curricula for a variety of experiential settings, including BIMA, Brandeis University's innovative summer arts institute and the JCC Manhattan's Jewish Journey Project. At BIMA we ran a week-long Piyut intensive to immerse teen musicians in the music of Piyut and support them in creating original Piyut compositions. For the Jewish Journey Project, we created a 12-week elective title 'The Playlist of the Middle East', focused on exploring global Jewish culture through the lens of Piyut. Students learned about the history of Jewish communities from across North Africa and the Middle East, using the music and poetry of Piyut as an anchor. This February, we are running an educator training in the Bay Area, in collaboration with Jewish Learning Works and the JCC East Bay.
Shishi Israeli is a monthly Friday night program run by the Israeli American Council in collaboration with B'nai Jeshurun. Led by Israeli musician Dan Nadel, the program includes a Piyut-based ritual for marking the entry of Shabbat; a communal meal; and Shira Betzibur (Israeli tradition of gathering to sing folk songs) that integrates Piyut and contemporary Israeli music. Dan Nadel is an Israeli guitarist and composer whose whose work synthesizes jazz, Latin American, and Middle Eastern idioms. Nadel is a musician-in-residence at B'nai Jeshurun and performs frequently in both Jazz and Jewish venues throughout New York and around the world.
Piyut for Shabbat: Prelude to Prayer and Bo'i Kallah
Hachana LaTefillah (Prelude to prayer) at B'nai Jeshurun in New York invites participants to prepare for the Shabbat morning service through meditative singing of Piyut and text study. Led by Rabbi Rolando Matalon, this program runs bi-monthly at BJs 86th Street Chapel.
Bo'i Kallah, a monthly Kabbalat Shabbat gathering, is NYC's only egalitarian Sephardic service. Led by Rabbi Rolando Matalon and musician Dan Nadel, Bo'i Kallah weaves together soulful melodies, verses of Shir HaShirim (The Song of Songs), liturgical poems, and psalms to transition from chol to kodesh - leaving the ordinary work week mindset in order to enter the hoy time and space of Shabbat. To learn more about this service click here to read an article from the Jewish Week.
Shira Mekudeshet: Sacred Singing
Shira Mekudeshet is a mid-week gathering for devotional singing of Piyut and a meeting place for Jews of all backgrounds who are interested in exploring music as spiritual practice. This format was piloted at the JCC East Bay, through a four-part workshop series that culminated in a Piyut track at the center’s community-wide Tikkun Leyl Shavuot.
University Courses and Residencies
Piyut North America has supported two university courses focused on the global Jewish music of Piyut. The first was a seminar on the culture of Jews from Arab lands at NYU's Tisch School, led by composer Elizabeth Swados and Dr. Edward Zeitar. The course brought guest artists from across NYC to teach and perform Piyut, as a lens to explore Jewish ritual, culture, and music from communities throughout the Arab world.
As part of the Shusterman Visiting Israeli Artist Program, Yair Harel and Dr. Francesco Spagnolo taught a course titled Jewish Nightlife at UC Berkeley. The course explored connections between the ritual performance of Jewish texts and social change, focusing on three topics: the rise of Kabbalistic nocturnal rituals in the Italian ghettos in the early-modern period; the performance of Hebrew poetry in North Africa and the Middle East; and the renaissance of Piyut in Israel from the 1970s to the present.