Juliet I. Spitzer, MSEd is an international award-winning singer/songwriter and recording artist, interpreting the world through a uniquely Jewish and feminist lens. She performs nationally with the a cappella trio MIRAJ, the vocal ensemble SheWho, and the musical troupe Shabbat Unplugged/Havdallah Live. Juliet’s love of theater finds expression in her musical compositions and performances with Theatre Ariel.
A self-described “devout post-denominational Jew,” Juliet is also the guest cantor at Congregation Beth Israel in Media, PA and teaches on a variety of topics on Judaism in the Philadelphia area.
Juliet is the Director of Inter-Cultural Exchange at the International Center for Contemporary Education, promoting the peaceful management of conflict through cultural understanding and tolerance for religious, ethnic, and racial differences.
MIRAJ is a creative collaboration between three Jewish leaders and educators: Rabbi Margot Stein, Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael, and Juliet Irene Spitzer. The three women met many years ago in a Hebrew grammar class as students at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. They formed a study group to help overcome the monotony of the course, and soon found themselves laughing and munching on chips as much as studying.
The three later began working together with a fourth woman on a book about Jewish women's rituals. During retreats to work on the book, they began to sing together-all had been singers and songwriters before meeting-and realized how well their voices blended together in harmony. Then singer-songwriter Linda Hirschorn asked them to open for her at a local concert, and MIRAJ was born.
"We have met every Tuesday each week since then for rehearsal, but really it's more like lunch, life and laughter," says Rabbi Raphael. Commenting that it is the group's "exquisite good fortune to have this sacred, weekly time together," Juliet Spitzer adds that the women "sustain each other in ways that defy simple description." The members of MIRAJ have become close friends, supporting each other through subsequent childbirths-they have 8 children between them, ranging in age from 1 to 17-as well as the deaths of family members, job transitions, health issues, and other life changes.
The group's songs sometimes come from these life events—the crisis or celebration of the moment. The women write richly harmonic original compositions for Jewish life rituals, Shabbat and holidays, as well as songs about Biblical heroines and events and new interpretations of traditional liturgy. Their focus is on developing songs that can make a service more powerful and inclusive of women's experience—what Rabbi Raphael calls a "feminist transformation of Judaism through songs, ritual writing and prayer."
The women somehow manage to make time for their music in the midst of very busy professional careers and family lives. Says Rabbi Raphael, "Music seems to sustain us as we get through the tough times. As we know, it is a powerful tool for cultural change, empowerment and healing." MIRAJ has recorded two CDs, "Counting Angels in the Wilderness" and "A Moon Note." Each member of MIRAJ has also recorded two solo albums of her own, as well as collaborated with other Jewish musicians of Shabbat Unplugged to record a Passover CD, "A Night of Questions"-Songs to Accompany the New Reconstructionist Haggadah (available at www.jrf.org).