Leah Sigal
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Leah Sigal


Band World Singer/Songwriter


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"Kosher Music to Bricks-and-Clicks: Religious Initiatives"


“If every Jew realized that what they have inside them has the potential to be more valuable than what they see around them, our world and community would be the richer for the unique and profound contributions that each person will offer.” – Miriam Droz, Founder of ATARA

As an organization that supports Torah-observant creative and performing artists, ATARA, the Arts and Torah Association, offers settings in which artists can express themselves and still preserve a halakhic context. Such milieus might include a shomer Shabbat or women-only venue, exemplified by the second annual womenonly conference ATARA will be holding for the creative and performing arts throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn November 7-10, 2008. The conference will include workshops on various art mediums, visual art displays and film screenings, music and dance performances, and a keynote address by Hollywood film director Robin Garbose.

“The arts are ways to communicate, so there is nothing wrong with them—only what is being communicated,” explains Miriam Droz, the founder of ATARA. “What would the world look like if we truly harnessed our creative potential into beautifying, uplifting, and educating the world, a Jewish imperative to begin with?”

ATARA has responded to a need to be able to create art within an observant religious framework. Participant Leah Sigal from Monsey, NY, knows firsthand how imperative it is: “As a singer/composer, I view my role as an instrument in God’s hand...Composing allows me the freedom to express my innermost sentiments via lyrics or music, in a way that is uplifting and conducive to feeling closeness to God and to my people.”

Participants and ATARA developers include Garbose, who also runs Kol Neshama, a musical theatre camp for girls in Los Angeles; dance instructors Yocheved Polonsky from Cleveland, Ohio and Kari Isaacson and Rivka Lomiansky from Toronto; and former Broadway actress Judy Winegard from Los Angeles. These women will be coming together to build a social community based on the shared values of Torah observance and professional artistic expression.

Further information about ATARA can be found at www.artsandtorah.org and conference registration is now open at http://atara2008.eventbrite.com.
- Present Tense Group

"Q & A"

By Sara Gilbert

Singer-songwriter Leah Sigal, 39, was inspired to write her own music by her special needs child, Rivka. She performed recently with the Professional Women's Theatre at Yeshiva University in Manhattan. She lives in Monsey with her husband, Leon, and her eight children who range in age from one to 16. Her CD,"Songs of Encouragement" is available at http://cdbaby.com/cd/leahsigal

What inspired you to begin composing music and singing? I have one daughter with special needs who is a participant at Yidai Chesed (an organization for people with special needs). Mainly it was my children who brought me to write music. It began as personal encouragement and as inspiration for me, but has since then expanded to a wider level of Jewish thought and @hashkofah@ (outlook or view).

How do you have time to work on your music as the mother of 8 children?I don't work, and all my children are in school during the day besides one baby who is at home with me. I do my practicing and songwriting while the children are at school, and I work around the baby's schedule. About once a week I go to the recording studio at night. Usually one of my children comes with me and do homework while I work. About a year and a half ago I put out my last CD, and I am currently working on my second.

You sang in a performance on Feb. 25 with the Professional Women's Theatre, what do you expect as a result from this event? We hope this performance will lead us to many more events like this one, and more opportunities for religious women to share and develop their talents. I felt that it was a beautiful show, and even with the inclement weather, we had an audience of over 250 women.

Where are you from originally? Originally, I am from Buenos Aires, Argentina. However, we came to New York about 22 years ago and lived in Brooklyn for 10 years before moving to Monsey.

What types of audiences have you performed for in the past? So far I have only performed for small groups. One year I performed for the girls and women at Yeshiva of Spring Valley. I also performed for the women and mothers at Yidai Chesed, which is an organization for people with special needs.

How do you, as a religious Jewish woman, deal with kol isha, that women should not sing in front of men? I only perform for all-women audiences.

How do you feel being Jewish effects your work as a singer? I write my own songs and I believe the whole reason we are here in this world is to elevate it. My songs connect with the soul and reach for a spiritual level.

=How long have you been writing songs and performing? I began writing songs about four years ago. The first song I wrote was called "My Sister" which was inspired by observing my daughter Nechama's relationship and moving attitude toward her special needs sister, especially in front of her friends from school.

How did you begin singing, did you take lessons? I always loved singing; music was always a big part of me. When I was in Argentina I sang in a choir, however, besides that I never took lessons and I am basically self-taught.
- Jewish Federation of Rockland County

"Cords within the soul"

By Leah Sigal

Living in New York for the past 25 years, I can't help but go back in time intermittently to my early years growing up in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The education I received both at home and in school was very strong in Jewish tradition and pride, and it was Zionistically oriented, with strong emphasis on learning all aspects connected to the land of Israel, and mastering the Hebrew language.

My mind often wonders to those years in our school choir, and even more prominently, to the then newly established Hebrew Center: "Yona" which also had formed its own choir and which eventually sang at weddings that took place at our center. The majority of the songs we sang at the "Yona" choir were in Hebrew. Some were modern Israeli songs, while others were songs of the prayer book. Occasionally we would sing songs in Yiddish.

It was during this time that a deeply embedded love for music developed within me. As our financial situation did not allow for music lessons, my growth within the realm of music education, creativity and expression was limited. However, singing would vibrate the cords within my soul, elevating me to some otherworldly place, and... it was singing that brought on the flow of love "notes" between my special needs daughter and I. But more on that later.

Shortly after immigrating to New York, my sister and I were enrolled at Bais Rivka, a Lubavitch High School in Crown Heights. The school opened its arms to us, helping us adjust to our new environment regardless of our lack of religious background, our scant familiarity with the English language, and inability to pay tuition. During this time, my soul underwent a major metamorphosis, as I immersed myself in the purifying waters of authentic Judaism absorbing all I could, that would eventually form the foundation of the Bais b'Yisroel my husband and I would establish.

Meanwhile, although my soul was getting nurtured with true Torah values and practices, its cords remained un-plucked, lacking an avenue of expression. The yearning was very much latent in the recesses of my heart, waiting to emerge at the right time.

About five years after high school graduation, I got married, and two and a half years later, my second child, Rivky was born. A new, life transforming episode was about to take place in my life. Rivky had suffered oxygen deprivation hours prior to her birth, causing extensive brain damage that severely impaired several major areas of her development. At present Rivky is non verbal, has cortical blindness, is non ambulatory and has pronounced fine motor delay. The first year of her life was most challenging, to say the least. At first, however, the effect of the distress she suffered prior to birth on her development was unknown to us. Once home from the hospital, Rivky would cry day and night, would throw up almost after every feeding, made no eye contact, and had a very floppy, wilted sort of appearance. It wasn't until she was four months old that test results revealed the sort of damage her brain had suffered. Shifting the switch in our minds to have different expectations, changing Rivky's diet, starting early intervention, and seeking to comfort our searing pain with words of encouragement and guidance, we slowly started to feel a sense of normalcy and light into our lives. As Rivky started to be more responsive to our voices and her real character started to emerge, a bond began forming between us. She became a little troublemaker who liked to tease us, by throwing herself back into extension, and laughing away, by spitting out her food and getting all excited, by rolling on the carpet from one end of the room to the other with a strong feeling of elation, and...by prompting me with a "na, na" or "ta, ta", to change the words of the songs I'd sing to her, using those syllables instead. Yes, Rivky had, from early on, unearthed my love for music that had laid buried within me for several years. A fountain that appeared to be dried up began flowing with fresh, life giving waters, as the cords within our souls slowly began to vibrate and create a hauntingly beautiful melody, establishing a connection through which at least on an ethereal level, we could communicate and I could find an inner haven that provided solace and peace during difficult times. Singing my way through an ordeal, for example, became at times the norm, framing a smile on my face instead of a tear.

Throughout those years, my relationship to the creator of the universe had also significantly strengthened, and I was certain that Rivky's birth wasn't a punishment but a fulfillment of the divine plan of which at present I'm not privy of, yet I am fully convinced that it was customized for our own good. As my bond to the Holy One3 and my special needs daughter became stronger, the seed of inspiration and creativity began to germinate within my heart. A most moving episode that occurred in one of my other daughter's school, where she introduced her "special" sister Rivky to her friends with such warmth and pride, propelled me to write my first song titled "My Sister". In no time, as new songs would spring forth from my soul, I found that songwriting and singing had a most soothing effect on me, it was like opening up a bottle bursting with emotion and need of expression and letting it flow out with beauty and serenity. The Jewish outlook 4 I had developed over the years became the animating force of the lyrics and music I composed. Feeling transported to that mystical place of so long ago, but now within the right framework, I felt highly enthusiastic and strongly desired to share the music that Hashem has planted within me with other women, hoping to provide them with inspiration and encouragement by striking the cords within their souls and together sensing the beauty of inner melody and harmony. With this in mind, I embarked on a most elevating project: the recording of my first album titled "My Sister". Although technically speaking, it took almost a year's time to complete this project, in reality, it's been the work of a lifetime, reflecting that strong yearning for musical expression and creativity I had felt since I was a child, and the internal changes that took place within me as Hashem led me through the labyrinth of this world, all for the purpose of reaching my true potential. I believe that Hashem gives each one of us, including our special children, the wherewithal to reach our personal attachment to Him. For some, this relationship may develop through painting, writing, knitting, teaching, outreach 6efforts, hospitality to guests and the list can go on and on.

For Rivky and I, our d'vekus to the Borei Olam and amongst us, is the music created as we diligently and lovingly pluck the cords within our souls, allowing their vibration to rise up and merge into a pristine and lilting melody. It is up to each one of us to tap into that reservoir implanted within us and within our children, that will bring forth the wealth of creativity and self expression which we all have, and direct it towards fomenting an indestructible tie to our Father in Heaven. It is my hope that Hashem will grant us the vision to see these gifts He has given us, and the strength and determination to implement them, so that we can reach the heights He expects of us, enriching and uplifting other lives along the way. - Jewish Federation of Rockland County


1) "My Sister" - Songs of Encouragement, Hope and Praise - 2005

2) "Peace in Israel" - Yearning for Blessings and Redemption - 2010



ABOUT ME: I’m a vocalist, composer, and recording artist living in New York with my husband and children. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I’ve sang in choirs during my childhood and early teen years. I’ve always had a passion for singing. My early musical influences were Israeli folk singers and the reknowned group ABBA. A few years after my marriage, I embarked on a professional music career, with voice training and self-study. I recorded my first album, titled “My Sister” in 2005, where I sing mostly original songs, some of which were inspired by my special needs daughter “Rivky”. I also presently finished recording my second album titled “Peace in Israel”, where I express my innermost yearning for Blessings, Peace and Redemption for Our People.

THE BEST WAY TO DESCRIBE ME IS: Highly driven and somewhat of a perfectionist. I yearn for spirituality, for working on improving my character traits and for finding my path towards serving G-d and connecting to people on a soul level.

INTERESTS: I LOVE to sing! I also love working with, and listening to inspirational music. As a vocalist and composer, I've learned the most from Chava Alberstein, Yaffa Yarkoni, Secret Garden, Celtic Woman, Laureena McKennitt, Barbra Streisand, Eva Cassidy, Enya, and Alberto Cortez, among others. I enjoy engaging in vocalises, challenging and discovering new capabilities in my voice. I love music composition, creating arrangements and writing. I have an iron will and determination to accomplish that which I view as my goal in life. My soul yearns to constantly grow, and as such, I try to incorporate in my daily routine the study of Jewish ethics and philosophy. In fact, as the soul becomes more refined, the music emanating from it becomes more beautiful, more pristine… I LOVE taking daily walks and breathing in the beauty of G-d's marvelous world, which no doubt also become vital ingredients in my music.

MY DREAM: Singing for female communities worldwide, from small, intimate settings, to large performance halls with orchestra, filled with women who are searching for spirituality and who yearn to feel elevated and connected with each other and with our Heavenly Father. I also yearn for my liturgical compositions to be sung in synagogues worldwide, as I feel my music adds a higher dimension to the words of prayers.

MORE ABOUT ME: Thank G-d I am blessed with a wonderful husband and precious children. One of my children, Rivky, has multiple disabilities and was really the force behind my embarking on a singing career. Presently, my husband and I are Rivky's sole caregivers. My days are filled from morning till evenings with challenges of all sizes and levels of intensity on a regular basis. Every so often I have to take stock of my situation, to keep my priorities in place, and to evaluate where I'm holding as far as fulfilling my job in this world is concerned, which is what we all have to do from time to time. My singing not only provides a medium through which to express my feelings, but it also opens up a window to my soul, whereby I can connect to my TRUE SELF and look beyond the physicality that so restricts me. That is me in a nutshell!

MY MESSAGE TO OTHERS: Never underestimate your capabilities. G-d blessed us all with inherent strengths, talents and goodness that are uniquely ours and that He expects us to utilize for the fulfillment of our task in this world. Developing our inner selves to the highest potential and rising up despite setbacks, should be our driving force, praying all the way for divine assistance and knowing that nothing happens because of our own efforts only, but because G-d is with us, holding our hands and guiding us.