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Master of Ceremonies:

Eric Fingerhut

Eric D. Fingerhut has been the President and CEO of Hillel International since August 2013. He came to Hillel after a distinguished career in public service and higher education. He has served as Chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, leading Ohio’s system of public universities and community colleges, as a U.S. Representative from Ohio, as an Ohio state senator, and as the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate in 2004. Eric received his undergraduate degree from Northwestern University, and a juris doctorate from Stanford Law School. A music lover, Eric listens across genres, but has an affinity for Leonard Cohen’s classics and niggunim. Eric lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife Amy, sons Sam and Charlie, and beagles Pedro and Lulu.

Kol HaOlam VIII Judges:

Cantor Arianne Brown

Cantor Arianne Brown was invested as a “Hazzan” and received a Master of Arts in Sacred Music from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2005 where she won the Hazzan Max Wohlberg Award and went on to earn a Master’s degree in Jewish Education from JTS in 2006. She holds a Bachelor of Music Education/Voice degree from Rutgers University and is a high school graduate of the Hebrew Academy of Atlantic County, NJ. Cantor Brown served Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, CA from 2006 through 2012 where she had a large liturgical, educational, and musical portfolio. Fluent in Hebrew and Yiddish, Cantor Brown is an expert Torah and Megilah reader, pianist, composer and arranger, and theatre director. A renowned specialist in Yiddish music, Cantor Brown performed in off-Broadway productions of the Folksbiene Yiddish Theater, and has appeared at Carnegie Hall, Safra Hall, Disney Hall, the Krakow Jewish Music Festival, and Warsaw’s Ida Kaminska State Theatre. She is the author of the bi-weekly “Dear Cantor” advice column in the Yiddish Forverts and has been published in the Journal of Synagogue Music. She is conversant in Farsi and recently sang the National Anthem at Dodger Stadium. Cantor Brown is married to Rabbi Randy Brown and they have three young sons. 

Lauren Dranoff

Lauren Dranoff is the founder and executive director of KEYhillah, the first-ever network for Jewish a cappella communities. She founded KEYhillah to create a space for everyone to connect musically and spiritually. She currently serves as the Chairperson of The ChaiLights, Philadelphia’s only post-collegiate Jewish a cappella group. In her day job, Lauren serves as a non-profit professional with experience in marketing, development, and logistics. She’s also a proud Philadelphia native with a love of arts and helping others.

Jeff Knishkowy

Jeff Knishkowy fell in love with a cappella music singing madrigals in high school and as the bass in a USY oldies group. As a Yale undergraduate, he sang a cappella in the Alley Cats (also music director) and the Whiffenpoofs. In the DMV, Jeff has sung with Take Note, the Alexandria Harmonizers, Oasis Consort, the Washington Men's Camerata, DC Express, and BlueLine. In 2011, he and four friends formed JewKvox, a Jewish a cappella group that has performed at Nationals Park, the Verizon Center, and Kol HaOlam, as well as numerous synagogues and other Jewish venues. Jeff is proud to have served previously as Kol HaOlam Chair and Master of Ceremonies. He and his family are active members of Adas Israel, where Jeff leads davening in the Traditional Egalitarian Minyan and has performed in and composed for the Purim Shpiel. Jeff loves writing musical parodies and looks forward to expanding his voice-over work.

Nathaniel Ribner

Since he joined two groups during his first week as a college student, Nathaniel has been a fixture in New York's Jewish a cappella scene. Nathaniel sang with and eventually led Queens College's Tizmoret (including leading them to a Kol HaOlam championship in 2015) and resurrected Yeshiva University's Y-Studs into a professional sensation. Currently, Nathaniel sings with a multitude of groups in the New York area, including the Maccabeats and Six13, in which he usually falsettos (yes, now it's a verb) high tenor or handles vocal percussion duties. During the week, Nathaniel works as an education marketing officer at B&H in Midtown Manhattan and eats a whole lot of Wacky Mac when he gets home. Best of luck to all of this year's wonderful contestants!

Mon, November 19 2018 11 Kislev 5779