Executive Director & Founder
Aaron Shneyer is the Founder and Executive Director of HEARTBEAT, a music based conflict transformation program for Israeli and Palestinian youth, which he formed in 2007 as a Fulbright-mtvU Fellow.
Born and raised in Washington, DC, Aaron has been living in Jerusalem since 2006 and recently returned to Washington, where he is a Social Enterprise Fellow at American University’s School of International Service. Since graduating from Georgetown University in 2005, Aaron has worked as a dialogue facilitator and program coordinator with various youth empowerment and civil society peace-building efforts including Seeds of Peace and the Sulha Peace Project. Aaron writes and produces music and performs with various music ensembles in the Middle East, Europe, and the US.
Jerusalem Program Director and Finance Coordinator
Noa is an experienced educator and musician in the US and Israel has been working with Heartbeat since 2009. After growing up in a religious home in New Jersey, Noa came to Israel at the age of 18, and moved to Israel after two years of Jewish learning. Her family joined her three years later. Upon completing her BA in Psychology in 2008, Noa spent 5 months as a volunteer in a rural village in Nepal, teaching and running theater and empowerment programs in schools in two Himalayan villages. She spent two years after that working with religious girls with eating disorders, using music and writing in her therapeutic counseling.
She currently lives in Jerusalem and is finishing her MA in Gender studies and activism at Bar Ilan University. In addition to being the Heartbeat program coordinator, she runs pluralistic groups of Jewish teenagers in a service learning program and pursues her music as a singer-songwriter, performing with her ukulele and guitar in local Jerusalem venues.
Heartbeat Graduate Program Director
Kela Sappir is a singer and activist, born and raised in West Jerusalem. Kela has been singing from a young age, first performing in musical theater and later studying music and singing in various programs. Most recently she spent one year of intense studies in The Center for Jazz Studies,Tel Aviv- New School program.
Kela works as the International Advocacy Officer at the human rights organization “Yesh Din- Volunteers for Human Rights”, and volunteers in the Tel Aviv University chapter of “Solidarity Movement”- a grassroots organization working towards civil equality and an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Development and Communications
Shoshana Gottesman is a musician activist and educator who started working with Heartbeat in 2011. She devotes her time to the exploration and development of musical spaces as locations for youth-led conflict transformation in settings of systemic injustice, conflict, and post-conflict.
Studying the violin from the age of six and transferring to the viola at the age of 21, Shoshana participated in numerous music festivals, and has enjoyed performance and teaching opportunities in America, France, Tunisia, and Israel/Palestine. After graduating from the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music in 2010 with a focus on music performance, international studies, and public relations, she received her M.A. in International Educational Development from Teachers College, Columbia University with a focus on peacebuilding and human rights education all through the lens of music education. Her additional educational experiences include teaching music at the KIPP Star Middle School in West Harlem, Assistant Deputy Director of the Cultures in Harmony Tunisia Project, and curriculum writer for the Jerusalem Youth Chorus. In June 2015, she presented her dissertation at the Cultural Diversity in Music Education Conference in Helsinki, Finland.
Shoshana’s Blog: Music Intervention Twitter: @musintervention
Booking, Language, and Marketing Officer
Maram Kablawi, an engaged community worker and activist of her native city Haifa, is a language translator for Heartbeat. She has been a part of the Heartbeat family since 2011.
She received her B.A. in Business Management from University of Derby in 2010. Currently she is a key administrator in a recycling company in Haifa and specializes in PR projects. In addition, Maram is the manager of a young Palestinian hip hop artist, Moody Kablawi, who is also her brother.
Last but not least, Maram is an avid flamenco dancer, who also organizes joint Palestinian and Israeli flamenco classes for young girls.
For almost eight years, Ami Yares has called Israel home. His original intention was to visit, study, learn, and leave, but Ami found much more. Throughout this journey, Ami’s love of music has accompanied him and now he engages Israeli society and beyond through music; performing, teaching and facilitating classes and workshops. In the past, Ami has taught about social action through American music for the US Embassy in Tel Aviv and US Consulate General in Jerusalem in a program he began called “FocUS Music.” He has also traveled to over twenty countries to teach and perform music about pluralism in the Jewish community. In Jaffa where Ami lives, he teaches traditional Hebrew and Arabic music to Jewish and Arab elementary school students. Ami has been a seminal force in creating educational programs that bridge ethnic and religious division found in Israel, the Palestinian/Israeli, conflict, Europe and the US. Ami performs original music in a various number of different bands and has been invited to schools and universities throughout the U.S. and Israel to perform and teach about his musical message of community, social action, and pro-activity. He has released two albums of original material, HOLLER! and the Brothers Yares. Sing Out! Folk Magazine describes Ami’s music as “a multicultural sharing of sounds that pay homage to his homeland.”
On any given day, you can find Ami in Haifa, Nazarth, Acre, Beersheva and some other cities off the beaten path, usually with guitar in hand. The next time you find yourself in Jaffa, Ami invites you to a song and seat by the sea.
Avi Salloway is a musician, activist, educator, and community leader based in Cambridge, MA. He has worked with Heartbeat since 2011. Avi grew up learning music directly from Pete and John Seeger, and from an early age, was exposed to music’s power to bring people together. This concept resonates deeply with Avi and has led him to use music as kinetic form of expression, connecting people around the globe.
Avi produces Heartbeat’s US tours and builds creative alliances for the organization. His commitment to the Heartbeat mission stems from his transformative experiences while working on the program staff in the Middle East in 2011. Since graduating from the University of Vermont in 2007, Avi has performed over 600 concerts and he is the bandleader and principle songwriter for Billy Wylder. He also tours worldwide with Bombino, the Tuareg guitar virtuoso from Niger, Africa. Avi has co-written, produced, and recorded on nine albums and performed in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Turkey, Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, England, Ireland, Scotland, Belgium, France, Portugal, Canada, the Caribbean, and the US, including concerts at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York, NY. In addition to working with Heartbeat, Billy Wylder, and Bombino, Avi has collaborated and performed with Pete Seeger, Jack Johnson, The Low Anthem, Hey Mama, Avi & Celia, and Jesse Dee.
Avi’s passion for music and cross-cultural exploration has taken him around the world. He believes in the power of song to inspire people of all backgrounds to be the change we seek.