For Orthodox girls seeking to inspire through song and arts, options appear limited by modesty guidelines, to singing and dancing before other women. Last month, the Tzohar Seminary for Chassidus and the Arts opened in Pittsburgh, directed by Amy Gordon Guterson, seeking to hone the talents of young Orthodox women. “Tzohar Seminary, like a window, will let in the light of creativity into the students’ lives,” said Guterson. “Together with learning chassidus and their sense of purpose, the students’ G-d given talents will shine out the beauty of Torah to the world in a new way.”
Among the first to sign up is Rivka Eilfort, 18, a guitar-playing songwriter and daughter of Chabad shlichim serving San Diego, Calif. “Rivka was always attracted to music,” said her mother Nechama Eilfort. “She composed on the piano and guitar from a young age… she breathed music.” Eilfort seeks to pursue a professional music career, recording and performing before Jewish girls. Tzohar Seminary’s first class comprises of 11 young women, who are singing, dancing, painting, writing, performing and filming.
For Eilfort, turning her talent into a profession translates to classes in reading music, videography, music theory, and voice lessons given by a professional opera singer. “Girls are dying to play music,” said Eilfort. “They should be living it. The school’s goal is to take the talent. They can still be Chassidic, creative and modest.”