Hebrew in Harmony—the new prayer curriculum for 4th-6th graders—features music from today's top Jewish musicians. This is the first in an occasional series profiling some of these talented artists.

Cantor Lisa Levine, Temple Shalom, Chevy Chase, Maryland

Who are your musical influences?

Folk music from all traditions past, present and future: American, Israeli, Yiddish, Ladino, classical, German, and art song. Debbie Friedman was instrumental in my early love for Jewish folk music, she was my song leader at UAHC Camp Swig in the 70’s. I take influences today from gospel, klezmer, chazzanut, country and folk music, as well as the great up-and-coming young Jewish artists who inspire me!

What prayer most resonates with you, and why?

One of my favorite prayers for Shabbat is at the end of Kabbalat Shabbat: Shalom Aleichem. It speaks of welcoming angels. Whenever I pray this piyyut, or poem, I think of all the loved ones in my life whose spirits are with the angels and who join me, as a loving presence every day, in my life journey. I welcome them into the peace of Shabbat and they remind me that some day, they will welcome me into the peace of life everlasting. It comforts me to know that my ‘angels’ are always with me. 

What's one instrument you wish you could play?

The violin. My daughter Emily is a brilliant violinist and I’ve often wanted to be able to play violin so I could join her in a duet!  It is a very tough instrument to play beautifully, and she has done that since she was 5 years old. I think the sound of the violin is beautiful in worship and I have written many songs that include violin parts over the years. 

What's one technique you use to engage your congregation?

My smile.  A smile invites people into prayer. The more I smile from a place inside my heart, the more I am able to radiate the spark of the Eternal within. When you sing and pray from your heart, the authenticity of prayer invites engagement. 

Visit www.behrmanhouse.com/hih to hear some of Lisa's music and explore Hebrew in Harmony.