Sketches of my favorite SHAKERS

Favorite SHAKERS
© Joy Krauthammer
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Master frame drummer, Glen Velez and Joy Krauthammer

Teacher Glen Velez and Joy Krauthammer

Reb Shlomo Carlebach's drummer and pianist Shoshannah Sarah
jammin' 'n teaching Joy Krauthammer to play djembe
Jewish Theological Institute, Berkeley, CA

Joy playing percussion with Cindy Paley (both not seen but guitar is) for the women.
 © Aaron Kirsch 

Joy Krauthammer and Taos 2 head drum, custom made for Joy
Wright Ranch, Malibu

Cantor Cindy Paley, Rabbi Lynn Kerne, Joy Krauthammer percussionist
Shomrei Torah Synagogue Rosh Chodesh
© Rene

Rabbi Cantor Monty Turner
Makom Ohr Shalom
by Mark Reden

Rabbis Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Debra Orenstein and Joy Krauthammer
Makom Ohr Shalom
by Mark Reden

Joy Krauthamer
by Shira Solomon

Joy Krauthammer
Heschel Day School

Lev Eisha at Vista Del Mar, Last day after 7 years
Joy Krauthammer, Robin Winston, Cindy Paley, Ruth Rubinstein
© Judy Sherman

Joy's Djembe ready and waiting
Vista Del Mar
© Joy Krauthammer

Joy's Djembe ready and waiting
Valley Beth Shalom
© Joy Krauthammer

Joy's Djembe ready and waiting
Beth Shir Shalom
© Joy Krauthammer

Joy's Djembe ready and waiting
Beth Shir Shalom
© Joy Krauthammer

Beth Shir Shalom
© Joy Krauthammer  9.2016

Joy's Percussion
Brandeis-Bardin Institute
© Joy Krauthammer

Joy's Percussion
Brandeis-Bardin Institute
© Joy Krauthammer

Timbrel of Miriyahm
© Joy Krauthammer

"Torah Parsha Beshalach includes the story of the Exodus from Egypt and the Splitting of the Sea. This miraculous event marked our true freedom. Out of gratitude and joy, we sang a song of praise to HaShem (thus, "Shabbos Shira", which means "Shabbos of Song."
"Jewish women were so filled with faith, that they came to the wilderness prepared to celebrate the redemption from slavery. They packed home-made timbrels with the provisions for the desert trek! Thus Miriam the prophetess led the women in their own song after Moshe led the first Shira. The Sages teach that in the merit of righteous woman, we were redeemed from Egypt, and (in their merit again) we will be redeemed in the future. May that time be now, and the holy sisters will joyously sing a new song together!" - Happy Minyan

Percussion being packed for Purim playing at Brandeis-Bardin
© Joy Krauthammer  2014

Cymbal Selfie
© Joy Krauthammer

My Left Hand Drum Self-Portrait
© Joy Krauthammer  2013

Drum Bus
© Joy Krauthammer

Joy's Heart Felt Music
© Joy Krauthammer 

Joy Learning Drum Set at LAMA
LA Music Academy, Pasadena, CA


That's not a HAPPY FACE, 
that's a drummer's pair of purple hands sideways on a drum head.

Jewish Aspect of Crystal and Tibetan Singing Bowl Meditations

”Where is the Jewish aspect of the crystal and Tibetan singing bowl meditations?”

- Joy Krauthammer

Kalsman Institute asks,  
Where is the Jewish aspect of the crystal and Tibetan singing bowl meditations?”  
Thank you for this opportunity to further explain the gift of vibratory sound as it pertains to Judaism.  

Sound Healing integrates with Judaism and "Wisdom and Wellness" when I play Crystal and Tibetan Singing Bowls. Rabbis–and leaders of all denominations–offer meditations and Torah teachings, and I accompany them by playing the healing bowls–before, during, and/or after the meditation and wisdom teaching. The breathwork, meditation, and reverberating sounds assist each participant in being henayni/present to the Jewish wisdom shared, by offering a sanctuary for creation of sacred healing space and learning. Abraham Avinu answered "Henayni" when G*d called to him.

The singing bowls also offer a mode of "prayer for healing". Through the ages, sacred healing sounds arose with King David’s appointment of Levitical singers and instrumentalists.  David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their fellow Levites as musicians to make a joyful sound with musical instruments: lyres, harps and cymbals. (1 Chronicles 15:16). The Levites' sound of cymbals was reinstated with Kind David's construction of Jerusalem's Second Temple (Ezra 3:10).  Today, I play those cymbals and connect with our ancestors to praise G*d.

Rabbis for whom I play the singing bowls offer thoughts on the "Jewish aspect of meditation," and I share them with you.  In the Torah, the patriarch Isaac is described as going "lasuach" in the field; a term understood by all commentators as some type of meditative practice. (Genesis 24:63) (Aryeh Kaplan)

Rabbi Toba August shares: "As a rabbi who has experienced Joy and her crystal bowl and Tibetan singing bowls for many years at our Shabbat retreats, please know, as the late Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan taught, meditation is intrinsically Jewish (and Joy shares that with us via sound).  The goal of our prayers is to change ourselves, so we can be the Mentchen we are meant to be.

"The crystal bowl, played by Joy, takes us deeper…into a meditative prayer. We invite a oneness with Shechinah...with Reality and the Source of All Life.  The calm peacefulness opens the way to experience the One, the Holy One, in the most intimate and meaningful way. This ritual is an integral part to our spirited, reflective and meaningful Shabbat morning davening." 

Rabbi Laura Owens writes: "The watchword of our faith is the Sh'ma prayer, a prayer from G*d to us, a prayer that comes directly out of the Torah.  The first word of this prayer is SH'MA–which means "LISTEN,"  to "HEAR". It is one of the most important things we are commanded/directed to do – to listen to our hearts, our souls, our conscience; to listen to the messages from our bodies; to listen to the pain and suffering of others; and through listening and hearing we can begin the important work of healing ourselves, our relationships, our communities, and the world.

"LISTENING to the sounds of the bowls, HEARING the singing that arises from them, puts our bodies and minds in a place of "kabbalah," of receiving and accepting that which is to come next. One of the foundations of Jewish healing is the ability to connect to the Greater One, and One-ness, and the sounds that emanate from Joy's playing of these beautiful bowls are a language of connection without words."

"Being Jewish means being present in each moment. That is what makes each moment sacred–when one is present. The singing bowls help one move into a state of present-ness, and being able to say, 'Henayni' / I am here." - Rabbi Stan Levy

As a member of Rabbi Stan Levy's B'nai Horin Comfort Group (for over a couple decades), I share various healing methods. I use the singing bowls as part of my Bikur Cholim avodah–for those physically ill with acute and chronic illness, for caregivers, for those in pain, for those at end-of-life and in need of spiritual healing / r'fuat hanefesh, and for those grieving a loss. Holy moments occur when I hand the singing bowl and wand to the friend in bed on hospice, and they are pleased to 'play' the singing bowl.  I also share with visiting guests a gift of meditation. As shomer, I have served souls with sounds in shalom

Over two dozen years ago, I began my Jewish meditation studies with Rabbi Jonathan Omer-Man, and Metivta, A Center for Contemplative Judaism; I served also on Metivta's Bikur Cholim committee. Rabbi Omer-Man, in leading weekly meditations, played for us the Tibetan singing bowl that the Dalai Lama had personally given to him. To bring sound into my Jewish prayer practice, I then studied sound with the Dalai Lama's monks.  (I do not know of any other Jewish people in Los Angeles publicly playing Tibetan singing bowls. For two dozen years, I also have been the only Jewish female percussionist playing regularly for synagogues in LA.) 

At the 1997 Jewish Meditation Conference ~ Opening the Heart, I was inspired as the Chochmat HaLev rebbetzin-cantor played the Tibetan singing bowls while we gathered and meditated inside the Byzantine-designed Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco.

To assist congregants to be grounded, present, and to 'open to' and receive "wisdom" of Torah, I play singing bowls and gongs. Jewish Renewal movement's founder, and Chabadnic, Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z"l, taught us to leave outside thoughts outside the Temple doors, as we enter for services. Hearing the singing bowls helps with this kavanah. (For many years on High Holidays I played singing bowls for Reb Zalman at Makom Ohr Shalom.) For two dozen years as a Neo-Chasid and Renewal Jew, “Ivdu Et Hashem B’Simcha", in meditation, I play for individuals, congregations, retreats, classes, and diverse gatherings, for healing of Jewish people, and for D'vekut/cleaving to G*d.  I help people to find a Jewish place of healing in the universal sounds. People feel good about receiving the Sounds of Joy, and receiving MiSheberach chanted to רופא חולהHealer of the Sick. Sound is universal, a bridge to cultures, and for crossing narrow places.  

"Kol haolam kulo gesher tzar meod
V'ha ikar lo l'fahed klal."
The whole world is a very narrow bridge
And the essential thing is not to fear.
(Rebbe Nachman of Bratslav, Likutei Moharan 2:28)

"El Na ReFa Na La"  לה נא רפא נא אל / G*d, Please Heal Her, Please (Numbers, 12:13) is an ancient Jewish healing prayer that Moses spontaneously cried to Hashem to heal his percussionist sister, Miriam HaNeviah, when Miriam was stricken with tzara'at, a biblical disease. Eleven letters compose this prayer. The Source of Healing, Whose Name was given to Moshe at the burning bush, also has eleven letters, אהיה אשר אהיה, "Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh" / I will be who I will be To heal our loved ones, when we chant this first healing prayer in Torah, we call out to the ever-present G*d, using G*d's Name that speaks to us in our need (Source of All BlesSings, Creator, Shaddai, Shechinah, Holy One). We tell G*d our name and invite G*d in.

At the onset of the chants, individuals may offer up to Hashem the names of those loved ones, including themselves, that need healing, serenity, courage, strengthening, restoring, reJewvenation, hope, and enlivening of body and/or soul.

Chants I use in healing, with crystal and Tibetan singing bowls, include El Na ReFa Na La, Ruach, Ribono Shel Olam and Shalom. Hebrew sounds are elongated, and have importance. "Ah" in ShAlom, is a universal sound for healing, as is AhOhm. Following the chants, we enter space of verbal silence, hearing and receiving the vibration sounds of the healing singing bowls.

Spiritually, I offer Mi Sheberach (by Debbie Friedman, z"l) and blesSings for Refuah Shleimah, healing of soul and body (refuaf haNefesh, u'refuah haGuf). Sound healing offers an opportunity for prayer other than using Hebrew and expressions of the heart. At times, people want to commune with the Holy One for comfort by themselves being quiet, and going more deeply inside. 

Traditionally, Chasidim can be quiet in their environment, and listen to surrounding sounds. As a Chabadnik since 1970 when I met The Rebbe, I know Chasidim appreciate niggunim / wordless melodies, and can repeat sounds over and over again in their hearts and aloud, and hear sounds like the vibrations of the singing bowls.  There is the story of the young shepherd flutist outside of shul who could not use traditional words for prayer, but could play his flute and deeply connect to HaShem. Sound is a medium, a language for making contact with the Divine.

My Crystal Singing Bowl is tuned to 'F', the heart chakra, and helps to open hearts. While hopelessness, despair, and anger may become obstacles to verbal prayer, the vibrations of the bowls are then desired for their serenity. They vibrate in the Sephirah Hod, in reverberation of splendor.

I intuitively play crystal and Tibetan singing bowls, gongs, chimes, ocean drums, rain sticks, and bells for 'Sound Spa' and 'Gong Bath' meditation and relaxation. I offer participants the opportunity to immerse in a symphony of meditational, vibrational healing soothing sounds. For meditative and reclining listening comfort, participants may bring a mat and pillow.

The Sounds of Joy Singing Bowls (which I carried back from Tibet) are known for their harmonic, lingering resonance and soothing sounds. The singing bowls' sound and vibration balance the brain's right and left hemispheres, and help center our chakras. Sound waves reverberate through one's body for relaxation and stillness, and create harmony within the body as they resonate higher healing emotions of gratitude and compassion.  Vibrations open energy channels for flowing, allowing for access to more joy, heart, love, unity, peace, Oneness connections with soul and Source, and higher enhanced, expanded states of consciousness in our universe.  

Although classically musically trained in piano, violin, and clarinet, and later in percussion including drum set–by dozens of world-music masters (and in music schools), and with renowned sound healers, I attribute my playing and "being played", to Hashgachah Pratit / Divine Providence.

My need, my avodah / my work, is knowing that if my presence, my Sounds of Joy, my gift of Light that The Source of All BlesSings gave to me–can help another neshamah to lift their prayers / tehilim to G*d, as a dance going up, for a shefa / abunDance to come down through the Four Worlds of Spirit, Mind, Heart and Body; then I am grateful that I can be of service in joy to G*d and to community. 

Conscious connection of wholeness, healing and Oneness, in the Kabbalistic Four Worlds of Spirit, Mind, Heart and Body, is my musical kavannah / intention.  I am inspired by the call to Serve G*d in Joy / "Ivdu Et Hashem B'Simcha" (Psalm 100:2), and believe with Emuna v'Bitachon / faith and trust, that especially with music, "Joy breaks through all barriers," as shared by the Baal Shem Tov.

BlesSings,  Joy Krauthammer, sound healer
12.16.2014  Erev Chanukah 5775

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Drum Teachers In Memoriam

In Memoriam

I'm sad to share news that two of my beloved frame drum teachers (both performers) have passed over this week, Oct. 2013. 

Layne Redmond (August 19, 1952 – October 28, 2013) was an American drummer, frame drum virtuoso, writer, teacher, historian, feminist, and mythologist. 

Layne Redmond, author of influential book "When the Women Were Drummers", was inspirational to women drummers around the world. Since a couple dozen years ago, I've learned from Layne, and wherever I play in spiritual spaces, always use the three Remo signature timbrels that Layne designed. Waiting for it's creation, I bought Layne's smallest timbrel heavy jingle frame drum as it was 'hot off the press'. Two decades ago with Layne as my inspiration, I played my largest frame drum in ritualized dance that I choreographed for my movement duo, during a Shabbat service at the Onion, a round sacred space.

I have discovered reading Layne's "Back Story" that she (like me) was a Max Beckmann scholarship art student at the Brooklyn Museum.  Layne studied painting in 1977. (I was a full time Max Beckmann ceramics graduate student in 1970-1971). Our lives intersected when in the late 1980's in CA, I first studied frame drum with Layne, and continued to learn from her at Remo. Layne was a blesSing.
~ ~ ~

John Bergamo (May 28, 1940 - Oct. 19, 2013) was a percussionist and Percussion Hall of Fame member. 
John Bergamo, a great talented treasure and innovative percussion teacher to countless musicians for decades, especially at CalArts, has been a percussion inspiration to me during the last 15 years (especially at Remo). It is John's large over-sized gentle Remo 'moon' signature frame drum that I play at temples. I loved watching John play in his various groups with experimental percussion, i.e. with little bowls filled with water.


Paulo Mattioli, died on October 22, 2011. Paulo, my djembe teacher, personally made my djembe drum while he lived in Topanga. Paulo called my drum the cadillac of djembe especially because of the comfortable beveled edge. For years I drove weekly to LA where Paulo gave drum lessons and with African dance. I knew Paulo before I knew Remo, and then blessed, enjoyed Paulo at Remo. I loved Paulo's high and fast joyous energy, and especially his drum circles at Remo. We shared the same birthday and I would bring fruit for our mutual birthdays celebrated at Remo.

Babatunde Olatunji, died April 6, 2003.  Babatunde, the greatest African djembe player and teacher.

May their souls be blessed.

In deep appreciation, 
Joy Krauthammer
~ ~ ~

Not a personal teacher, but a musician important to me:
NEA American Jazz Master, Yusef Lateef, Who Embraced World Music, Dies at 93, 12.23.13  The first album ever given to me (by my aunt Perle) when I was a teen, was by Yusef Lateef. First album I ever bought at age 16 was by his friend, drummer Babatunde Olatunji, obm, with whom I gratefully got to perform. (Dreams really do manifest.)

"Yusef Lateef combined thoughtfulness and a probing intellectual curiosity with impressive musical skills. Early in his career, he established his role as a pathfinder in blending elements from a multiplicity of different sources." - LA TIMES obit

~ ~ ~

Saddest for me and the world was when Reb Shlomo Carlebach, z'l, died. From him I learned "harmony." Shlomo channeled his niggunim from Shamayim. He was a BlesSing in my life.
~ ~ ~

So tragic when brilliant singer/composer Debbie Friedman, z'l, died too young at 59.
Debbie was a blesSing in my life and I was very blessed that over the years at times I accompanied Debbie. Her legacy is kept alive everywhere.
~ ~ ~

The saddest news is that Remo Belli, obm, visionary and founder of REMO drums, died, April 25, 2016. May his legacy be continued by musicians all over the world.  
Remo has been most important in my life.

~ ~ ~

Joy & Shoshannah Shoshannah (Chouake)  6.5.56 - Feb. 2018

Baruch Dayan HaEmet. SHOSHANA Sarah. Shoshana bat Avraham. My very first djembe teacher. She was my inspiration to play. I would watch her play with Reb Shlomo Carlebach, z"l. Shoshana loved accompanying Reb Shlomo both on piano and djembe.

Shoshana's music was Divine. We used to dance together in her home (near Mahane Yehuda) in Jerusalem to her piano music, and she said she had never before done that, dance while listening to her own music tape which was not yet produced. We saw our dancing shadows on her wall with light streaming in.
 (I wrote a review in the Jewish Calendar Magazine and Shoshannah loved it.)

"May the one who spent her life using her music to heal others now find eternal healing & wholeness beneath the wings of Everlasting Love." - Lorelei

Shoshannah Sarah "has passed away after a battle with Cancer. She was buried in Jerusalem Erev Shabbat, 3.2.2018 on Shushan Purim at Mt of Olives, Har HaZeitim. 

She was a deeply spiritual woman, an accomplished musician with several CDs available on ITunes, a Wellness and health expert, a raw food chef, and a beautiful person. She loved being part of the Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach chevra!”
May Shoshana Sarah's neshama soar to Shmayim. May her memory be for a blessing. May she dance and play with angels.

Shoshannah had also learned with percussionist John Bergamo of CalArts. 

The djembe I played was loaned to me in Berkeley by Miriam Minkoff from Buffalo, NY.
~ ~ ~

My First Tambourine

My First Tambourine
photo by Simone Weissman 2.6.2015

When I was 18 in 1965 and studying art at Universidad de Madrid, Spain, and at the Prado Museum, I traveled to the Spanish walled city of Avila to watch the bullfights and party with the toreadors.

As a memento of my fun adventuresome time, I purchased this pictured painted tambourine, and then back in NY in time for college, presented the tambourine gift to a young gal, Simone (maybe 10 years old), for whom I babysat. It was that babysitting money that got me my ticket to Spain. 50 years later, Simone still has the timbrel. This for me is my 'Love Story'*, touching deeply my heart.

In Spain, for myself, I purchased a kinetic jingly tambourine gold charm, still on my charm bracelet. Didn't know at the time that I was allowed to actually 'play tambourines'. I watched the flamenco dancers play them.

I bought my first tambourine for myself in 1991 when I traveled to Sibolga, Indonesia with Simone's mother, z"l. Or was it the first hand-made primitive tambourine when I purchased one possibly earlier from a church woman in the island of Jamaica.  I'm still regularly playing lots of timbrels today!

(Photography warning: While in Spain and photographing from behind a low bush, Generalisimo Francisco Franco, the gendarmes/police confiscated my camera because it was illegal to shoot the Generalisimo.)

Note from Simone: Thank you Joy! I looked long and hard at this when I was packing up my ancestral home and I didn't want to let this go—I had no idea of the story behind it but I knew it was from you! I had it in my room as a child and then it lived on the shelves behind the bar in the basement, along with souvenirs from our family's travels.

*  Love Story Week # 6 (52Frames)




Percussion Is My Passion

  - Joy Krauthammer   
April 2011

At the end of Shabbat services, where I serve spiritual communities as world-beat hand percussionist, people ask me questions: How long have I been drumming? What kind of drum is the big one? Did I go to music school? How did I become a drummer? How do I do it? The last is my favorite.

I love these telling questions because I love it that people are interested, and appreciate my music with its subtleties and expansiveness. I love to share my story, one of visions, Hashgachah Pratit / Divine Providence, and of a joyous, passionate Jewish woman drummer.

I share with people that I play with joy for them--because I receive their joyous soulful energy that circulates; I feel that and it excites me. Accompanying cantors, singers, dancers and rabbis brings out the rhythmic best in my music. More of that truth is that I connect with the Source of All BlesSings, and to Miriyahm HaNeviah, biblical timbrel player. I have gratitude, and become a vessel for Hashem’s music. I am ‘played’ by the Holy One. I am inspired to “Serve G*d in Joy”. (Psalm 100:2)  My kavanah / intention is knowing that my ‘Sounds of Joy’-- the gift that G*d gave to me, can assist neshamahs / souls to lift their tehilim / prayers to the Divine One; as a dance going up, and for a shefa / abunDance of conscious connection with healing and wholeness, to come down through the Kabbalistic Four Worlds of Spirit, Mind, Heart and Body.

To be ethereal was my yearning when I asked the Creator to give me a drum—naively thinking that music would not take the great physical space that my own ceramics work had occupied. (That's an oxymoron for a percussionist. I'm learning to be ethereal.)

Many vessels of sound I play were designed (some customized to my desire) by my renowned international teachers (Paolo Mattioli, obm), were purchased during world travels, or were inherited from my mother, z"l (especially gongs and bells). My instruments that I lovingly play, stroke and caress (not 'beat' or 'bang') with my hands or mallets include large wood and natural skin African djembe, Middle-Eastern dumbeks (metal, vegetarian synthetic, or ceramic), frame drums, and (Remo) timbrels (aka riqs) with heavy metal brass (or other alloys) jingles, seed jingles, cymbals, ting shas (small hand cymbals), chimes (72 double row, and energy chimes), triangle, and such ‘small’ hand-made, ethnic traditional percussion as bells, rattles (chajchas, kpoko-kpoko, seeds, Buffalo rawhide), shakers (natural woven caxixi, gourd gita, maracas, shekeres, and axatse), scrapers (guiros), clave, and mu yu (slit drum). Additional ethnic percussion from many nations I have learned include: tambourine, tar, tamborim, bohdran, djun-djun, ashiko, talking drum, klong yaw, cuica, timbau, surdo repinique, agogo, bongo, congas, cowbell, tubano, pandeiro, kanjira, sakara, fruit and vegetable shakers (of plastic, wood or metal), as well as sound shapes.

For meditative and healing moments, I play organic rain sticks, ocean drums, gongs, Asian bells, and crystal and Tibetan singing bowls tuned to lev / heart chakra.

For the last decade, I mamash / truly have loved playing percussion for Lev Eisha / Heart of Woman women and men at our gevaldt / awesome Shabbat services where Shechinah dwells. I have been drumming since 1986, through both challenges and simchas.  The secret? This eisha / woman plays with her lev.

BlesSings for Sounds of Joy,
Joy Krauthammer

This story is published in Lev Eisha site:
For a more fully illustrated magical musical story with my responses, please read: