Rebecca Schwartz is a professional singer, guitarist, and award-winning songwriter. Her liturgical music is sung on the Jewish Sabbath (Shabbat) and other holy days in synagogues around the world. Rebecca has written and co-produced five albums: "Only Time Can Tell" (secular love songs), "The Light of Shabbat" (a religious experience), "Ahavah Rabah ~ With Deep Love" (songs of spirit, love, and hope), "P'tach Libi ~ Open My Heart" (a landscape for prayer), and "Kirvu ~ Come Near" (music for Shabbat and beyond). She has also released three singles, written and recorded songs to help teach autistic children, and her Jewish music is published in two songbooks, "Rebecca Songs Volume I and II".
Rebecca serves as Cantorial Soloist and Music Director at Congregation Kol Ami in Elkins Park, PA, just outside Philadelphia. She specializes in worship experiences, engaging people in the power of prayer through music. A soloist and Jewish songleader in the Philadelphia area since 2001, Rebecca began working at Congregation Kol Ami part-time in 2006, then full-time in 2008. She has also produced two congregational CDs with her adult and student choirs, and has been commissioned by Hazzan David Tilman (Elkins Park, PA) and The Temple - Tifereth Israel (Cleveland, OH) to write Jewish music. Rebecca also served as a soloist and music teacher at Old York Road Temple - Beth Am in Abington, PA, and Congregation Rodeph Shalom in Philadelphia (and previously in Elkins Park, PA). Rebecca has been singing professionally and teaching guitar to children and adults for over 45 years. She specializes in teaching guitar to clergy members and teen songleaders. Rebecca also sings at private life-cycle events (including weddings for all, private bar/bat mitzvahs, baby-namings, funerals, shivahs), tutors private bar/bat mitzvah students, and travels for special artist-in-residence events and weekends. Rebecca has performed in the US, Canada, Israel, and The Netherlands for services, music festivals, and major Jewish conferences including the Union for Reform Judaism's Biennials and CAJE (Central Agency for Jewish Education).
During the summer months from 2014 through 2017, Rebecca was "Rosh Shirah" in charge of the music program at Ramah Day Camp in Elkins Park, PA. Along with teaching kids and staff, mentoring songleaders, leading the music for prayer and other musical events and enriching their repertoire, Rebecca composed the "20th Anniversary Machaneh Ramah" song. From 2005 through 2012, Rebecca served as Songleading Director at Union for Reform Judaism Crane Lake Camp in West Stockbridge, MA, changing the musical culture and making a difference in the lives of Jewish kids by teaching Jewish music and guitar, singing with campers and staff, leading music for worship, and mentoring young adult and teen songleaders. Rebecca co-produced a CD called "Live From The Bubble" along with Josh Shriber. Under Rebecca's musical leadership for eight summers, "this camp has become one where singing and dancing are truly an enjoyable experience." "It all is really a tribute to Rebecca and her steadfastness over the years... It's incredible that there are so many who want to be songleaders and have that opportunity to lead others in Jewish music and worship" (quote past Senior Assistant Directors Brian Mitchell and Greg Kellner).
Rebecca is a published author featured in "Music, Carrier of Intention in 49 Jewish Prayers" published by Kimberly Burnham and Elizabeth W. Goldstein in 2014. Sixteen of her songs are featured in "The Jewish Path; A Concise Guide & DVD Bringing Judaism to Life", written by Rabbi Wendy D. Pein and Nanci J. Freedberg and published in 2011. AWARDS: In November of 2004, Rebecca performed and received an award for two original compositions ("Y'did Nefesh" and "Birkat Haneirot") at Shalshelet's First International Festival of New Jewish Liturgical Music held in Chevy Chase, MD. "Ahavah Rabah" (the song) was among the winners in the Best Jewish Song category of the 2006 Just Plain Folks Music Awards. "Ahavah Rabah" (the album) was also nominated for Best Jewish Album. "P'tach Libi" took second place for Best Jewish Album in the 2009 Just Plain Folks Music Awards. "Yisrael B'nishmati" (from the same album) was also nominated for Best Jewish Song. In September of 2015, Rebecca was awarded second place (chosen out of over 300) by The Forward in the Soundtrack of Our Spirit 2015, a reader-inspired digital project to find the best new voices in Jewish music. In September of 2016, Rebecca was awarded honorable mention by The Forward in Soundtrack of Our Spirit 2016. In May of 2008, Rebecca participated in the First International Jewish Music Competition hosted by the 14th International Jewish Music Festival at the Muziekgebouw aan't IJ in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. In June of 2018, Rebecca was a soloist in Verizon Hall at the renowned Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, PA.
COMPILATION MUSIC/SONGBOOK PUBLICATIONS: "Y'did Nefesh" and "Birkat Haneirot" (from "Ahavah Rabah") are published in Shalshelet's First International Festival of New Jewish Liturgical Music CD and songbook. Rebecca's "Modim" (from "The Light of Shabbat") is published by the Union for Reform Judaism's Transcontinental Music Publications in "Shabbat Anthology Volume III (compilation songbook/CD set). "Or Chadash" (also from "The Light of Shabbat") is published in "Shabbat Anthology Volume IV", and "Y'did Nefesh" (from "Ahavah Rabah") is published in "Shabbat Anthology Volume VIII". "David's Nigun" (from "Kirvu", co-written with friend David Curtis) is published in "Nigun Anthology III". Rebecca's "Hariu" is published in "Kol Isha", Songs and Settings of Prayers composed by members of the Women Cantors' Network. Rebecca was honored to participate in a project called "Remembering Robin", and sang one of Robin Taback's beautiful songs ("Love is What We Want") as part of a compilation CD to honor Robin's memory and benefit cancer research. Rebecca is married and has two grown sons. She's a member of the Union for Reform Judaism, the Guild of Temple Musicians, and a board member of the Women Cantors' Network.