Rebecca Schwartz is a professional singer/guitarist and award-winning songwriter, and has been performing since 1974. 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 published a songbook, "Rebecca Songs", featuring the sheet music from "The Light of Shabbat" and "Ahavah Rabah". Rebecca has also written and recorded songs to help teach autistic children.
Rebecca started her career in the coffeehouses and nightclubs of Philadelphia, performing original and cover tunes. She also led Jewish kids in song at local temples as a youth group songleader and music teacher. Rebecca then began a twenty-plus year career singing at wedding/b'nei mitzvah/anniversary receptions as well as high society parties around the country, and especially enjoyed performing for Barbara Walters, William Shatner, and Vera Wang in NYC, and PA Governor Ed Rendell in Philadelphia.
Rebecca serves as Cantorial Soloist, songleader, choir director, and music teacher 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. This includes Shabbat and Havdalah services for adults and/or children, as well as healing services. Rebecca also sings with seniors at retirement and nursing homes, entertains at private functions, and mentors teen songleaders.
During the summers from 2005 through 2012, Rebecca served as Songleading Director at Union for Reform Judaism Crane Lake Camp in West Stockbridge, MA, 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. 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 and present Senior Assistant Directors Brian Mitchell and Greg Kellner).
Rebecca sings at private b'nei mitzvah, wedding ceremonies, and travels for special artist-in-residence events and weekends. Weekends can include Shabbat evening services, Shabbat morning services, Havdalah/evening concert, and then Sunday morning songleading with the kids, a shacharit or healing service with adults, or a song session with seniors at a local nursing home. Rebecca will work alone or join the cantor/soloist and choirs to create a truly memorable weekend for all. She has performed in the US, Canada, Israel, and The Netherlands.
"Rebecca creates a landscape for prayer. She is a performer; not just a singer." Rabbi Howard Bogot
"When she leads us in song, her music brightens our worship and draws us together into a deeply spiritual community." Rabbi Phil Cohen
In August of 2004, Rebecca created and presented "The Power of Prayer Through Music: Enhancing Worship with Song" at the 29th Annual Conference of Alternatives in Jewish Education held at Hofsta University in Hempstead, NY.
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. A week later, she performed at the URJ Regional Biennial in Pittsburgh, PA, along with the other members of her musical group, Eizeh Keif (Cantor Elena Zarkh and Sharon Katz).
Rebecca's "Modim" (from "The Light of Shabbat") has been published by the URJ's Transcontinental Music Publications on "Shabbat Anthology III", a compilation songbook/CD set. "Y'did Nefesh" was published by Shalshelet on their first Festival CD, along with "Birkat Haneirot" (both from "Ahavah Rabah") in the first Festival songbook.
In November of 2005, Rebecca performed original songs on the Transcon Stage at the URJ National Biennial held in Houston, TX and joined many beautiful voices in song on "the big stage" for the Shabbat song session.
In August of 2006, Rebecca performed her "original songs of spirit, love and hope" at the 31st Annual Conference of Alternatives in Jewish Education held at Duke University in Durham, NC. She also had the pleasure of singing back-up vocals for noted Jewish singer/songwriter Noam Katz.
In October of 2006, Rebecca was commissioned by Hazzan David F. Tilman of Beth Sholom Congregation (Elkins Park, PA) to write a special Chanukah song that was debuted at a community concert on December 14, 2006.
In November of 2006, "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.
Also in November, Rebecca sang harmonies once again with featured musician Noam Katz at the URJ - PA Regional Biennial held in Philadelphia. She then joined fellow Jewish composer Ross M. Levy for a late-night kumsitz.
In April of 2007, Rebecca, along with guest singer-songwriter Sharon Katz, performed a very successful benefit concert for American Friends of Magen David Adom, to whom all proceeds were donated.
In December of 2007, Rebecca presented a workshop called "Shir Chadash: New Music for Shabbat" at the URJ's 69th Biennial Convention in San Diego. Her setting for "Or Chadash" (from "The Light of Shabbat") was published in "Shabbat Anthology IV" by Transcontinental Music Publications.
In May of 2008, Rebecca was chosen to participate 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.
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.
In November of 2008, Rebecca and fellow singer/songwriter Ross M. Levy were the headlining performers at the URJ-PAC Regional Biennial held in Harrisburg, PA.
In August of 2009, "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 November of 2009, Rebecca co-presented a workshop with Dan Nichols, Cantor Rosalie Boxt, and Cantor Richard Cohn called "Shir Shabbat: New Music for Sabbath Worship" at the URJ's North American Biennial held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
In April of 2010, Rebecca once again helped raise money for American Friends of Magen David Adom. Joined by friends Sharon Katz and Chana Rothman, nearly $5000 was raised at the benefit concert held at Ohev Shalom of Bucks County in Richboro, PA.
In June of 2010 and 2011, Rebecca presented guitar-sharing sessions at Hava Nashira, held at Olin Sang Ruby Institute in Oconomowoc, WI, to assist advanced-beginner guitarists to get to the next level and be more confident with their guitar skills.
Sixteen of Rebecca's 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 (www.TheJewishPath.com), published in 2011.
In November of 2011, Rebecca once again co-presented "Shir Shabbat: New Music for Sabbath Worship" at the URJ's North American Biennial, held in National Harbor, MD, just outside Washington, DC. Co-presenters included Cantor Zoe Jacobs and Bryan Zive.
Rebecca is a member of the Women Cantors' Network and was co-chair of the WCN Conference in Philadelphia in June, 2011. She is also a member of the Guild of Temple Musicians. Rebecca is married and has two sons.