> Faculty & Performers


(El Cerrito) Achi Ben Shalom is known in the community as a specialist in Jewish and Israeli music. He leads the band Adama, conducts the Nigunim Jewish Community Chorus, performs as a singer/guitarist, and produces concerts and other events. He has studied music in Tel Aviv (Israel), and Event & Meeting Planning at San Francisco State University. See AchiBenShalom.com


(Berkeley) Bruce Bierman is a core staff member of the Stagebridge Theater Company and Performing Arts Institute serving older adults, and recently opened the first Stagebridge branch in Los Angeles at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center. He is also a well-known Jewish dance teacher and leader in the Bay Area, L.A,. and beyond, and has studied Yiddish dance with some of the best teachers in the country, including Steve Weintraub, Deborah Strauss, Michael Alpert and Felix Fibich. Bruce was a principal performer with the internationally renowned Aman Folk Ensemble. His theatre credits include: Actor: St. Joan (South Coast Repertory), Titus Andronicus (Shakespeare Santa Cruz), Mad Woman of Chaillot (Odyssey Theater Ensemble), Man of La Mancha, Time of Your Life, The Music Man (Saddleback Summer Stock); Playwright/Director: Gimpel the Fool (U.C. Santa Cruz), Wade in the Water (Odyssey Theater Ensemble), The Passion of Carmen (Celebration Theater), The Blue Dress (New Conservatory Theater); Choreographer: Fiddler on the Roof (Mountain View Performing Arts Center), Urinetown (Julia Morgan Theater), Sylvia (Ashby Stage). Bruce serves on the festival committee for KlezCalifornia, and will be directing and choreographing the upcoming premiere of Di Megileh of Itzik Manger for the 2014 Jewish Music Festival.


(Berkeley) Educator, writer, and Yiddish translator, Ken Blady was born in Paris and grew up in Hasidic Brooklyn, where he attended yeshiva and rabbinical seminary. A Bay Area resident since 1972, Ken has a B.A. in History from U.C. Berkeley, and an M.A. in Educational Psychology from Cal State University East Bay. He is author of The Jewish Boxers’ Hall of Fame and Jewish Communities in Exotic Places, and translator of The Journeys of David Toback and Remembrance. A popular lecturer on a variety of Jewish themes at colleges, synagogues, elderhostels, and adult educational institutions, Ken has been featured on radio and television talk shows, including the Voice of Israel and The History Channel documentary, Operation Magic Carpet. He is a lecturer in Jewish history on the faculty of American Jewish University’s Whizen Center, Bel Air; Cal State University East Bay, Concord, OLLI program; and Diablo Valley College’s Emeritus College, Walnut Creek. See KenBlady.com


(Berkeley) Stu Brotman is an internationally-known multi-instrumentalist who plays the string bass, basy (cello), tilinca (shepherd's flute) and baraban (Jewish bass drum). He has been a moving force in the klezmer revival, produced the Klezmorim's Grammy-nominated album Metropolis, and has performed with the Klezmorim, Kapelye, Andy Statman, Klezmer Conservatory Band, Veretski Pass, and Itzhak Perlman. He has recorded, toured, and taught New Jewish Music with world-class ensemble Brave Old World since 1989. Lately, Stu performs most often as a member of the klezmer power trio Veretski Pass (with Joshua Horowitz and Cookie Segelstein). See VeretskiPass.com


(Berkeley) Joshua Horowitz, tsimbl and 19th Century accordion, received his Masters degree in Composition and Music Theory from the Academy of Music in Graz, Austria, where he taught Music Theory and served for eight years as Research Fellow and Director of the Klezmer Music Research Project. He is founder and director of the ensemble Budowitz and has performed and recorded with Rubin & Horowitz, Brave Old World, Adrienne Cooper and Ruth Yaakov. Joshua taught Advanced Jazz Theory at Stanford University with the late saxophonist Stan Getz and is a regular teacher at KlezKamp, The Albuquerque Academy and KlezKanada. His musicological work is featured in four books, including The Sephardic Songbook with Aron Saltiel and The Ultimate Klezmer, he has written numerous articles on the counterpoint of J.S. Bach, and he is the recipient of more than forty awards. See VeretskiPass.com


(El Cerrito) Accordionist Jim Rebhan has been a mainstay of the San Francisco Bay Area klezmer scene. He has performed with the Ellis Island Old World Folk Band since 1980, and has been a longtime member of California Klezmer, recording with both groups. He is the son of Jewish immigrants who left Europe in the late 1930’s (and who met in English language school) and grew up listening to Yiddish songs at home. His first accordion teachers were Italian immigrants in Chicago, and he has studied klezmer accordion with Alan Bern (Brave Old World) and Lauren Brody (Mikveh). Jim majored in music at the University of Chicago, and has a Masters in Composition from California Institute of the Arts. He has taught at Living Traditions’ KlezKamp West and at KlezCalifornia. In addition to the piano accordion, Jim performs on drums and xylophone. See Musikers.com and CaliforniaKlezmer.com


(Berkeley) Cookie Segelstein, violin and viola, received a Masters degree in Viola from The Yale School of Music in 1984. She was principal violist in Orchestra New England and assistant principal in The New Haven Symphony Orchestra. She is the founder and director of Veretski Pass, and a member of Budowitz and of The Youngers of Zion with Henry Sapoznik. She has presented lecture/demonstrations and workshops on klezmer fiddling all over the world. She also has been on staff at Living Traditions' KlezKamp, KlezKanada, and KlezCalifornia festivals. She has performed with numerous notables including Kapelye, The Klezmatics, Frank London, and The Klezmer Conservatory Band, and Veretski Pass.


(Brooklyn) Deborah is an award-winning children’s educator and a highly-regarded Yiddish dancer and dance leader. Her recent music collaborations include “Fidlroyz” and “Voices of Ashkenaz” with the German klezmer group, Tickle in the Heart; “The Kadya Project: Voices of the Yiddish Fiddle,” with violinists Abigale Reisman and Keryn Kleiman; and Zeller-Vromens-Strauss, three fiddles in a boundary-breaking collaboration of North German and Yiddish music. Deborah studied violin at Rutgers University and ethnomusicology at the University of Chicago. See Strauss/Warschauer Duo


For over 25 years, Deborah Strauss (violin, accordion, vocals, dance) and Jeff Warschauer (guitar, mandolin, vocals) have been at the forefront of the international klezmer and Yiddish music scene, beloved for their ability to inspire and empower people of every age, background and ability, and renowned worldwide for their depth of experience and knowledge. They were both longtime members of the Klezmer Conservatory Band, one of the premiere groups of the klezmer revival, and have performed with legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman on film and in concert. As the Strauss/Warschauer Duo, they have performed to overwhelming acclaim in such diverse venues as the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Great Britain's Fiddles on Fire, and the Jewish Culture Festival in Cracow, Poland. They also lead some of the most popular klezmer music, Yiddish song and traditional dance workshops throughout North America, and Eastern and Western Europe. 2013 marks Deborah and Jeff's 18th year anniversary performing and teaching as the Strauss/Warschauer Duo. Their new CD, Once I Had a Fiddle, celebrates this creative milestone. See KlezmerDuo.com‎


(Oakland) Gerry Tenney is a children’s entertainer, musician and teacher, singer of Yiddish songs, and leader of the band California Klezmer. In 2002, 2004, and 2006 he was Musical Director for two Yiddish-oriented plays put on by San Francisco State University's Drama and Jewish Studies Departments. He directed the Jewish Music Festival in its early years and was a main organizer of the first klezmer camp in California (KlezKamp West) in 1989. For ten years, he hosted the Gershn YanklShow on KPFA. He has led and performed children's music at many klezmer music camps in New York, West Virginia and California, as well as at other Jewish children's camps. Gerry has worked with children for more than forty years. He is director and music teacher of the East Bay Kindershul, the only kids’ school (grades K-8) in the Bay Area that emphasizes Yiddish culture. Gerry taught sociology at the City College of New York 1967-1972. A descendant of the Shpielman family of the Kolymea klezmorim, Gerry is an almost-fluent Yiddish speaker and President of KlezCalifornia. See CaliforniaKlezmer.com


Stu Brotman, Josh Horowitz, and Cookie Segelstein.
Veretski Pass offers a unique and exciting combination of virtuosic musicianship and raw energy that has excited concertgoers across the world. With colorful instrumentation, unique arrangements and compositions, Veretski Pass plays "Old Country Music," music with origins in the Ottoman Empire, once fabled as the borderlands of the East and the West. In a true collage of Carpathian, Jewish, Rumanian and Ottoman styles, typical suites contain dances from Moldavia and Bessarabia, Jewish melodies from Poland and Romania, Hutzul wedding music from Carpathian-Ruthenia, and haunting Rebetic aires from Smyrna, seamlessly integrated with original compositions. See Veretski Pass


(Brooklyn) Jeff is Founding Artistic Director and Senior Artistic Advisor of the KlezKanada Institute for Yiddish/Jewish Culture and the Arts, is on the faculty of Columbia University in New York, and is a graduate student in Cantorial Music and Modern Jewish Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary. See Strauss/Warschauer Duo