educatoR and Lay-Leader
Anya Concoff has a B. A. in Religious Studies with an emphasis on Biblical Hebrew from the University of California, Santa Barbara. As a child, Anya participated in a vibrant, lay-led potluck-style havurah that celebrated holidays and events in the redwoods of her home town, Occidental, California, and attended a Jewish summer camp which served as the foundation for her Jewish education. She never attended religious school and her own homegrown Bat Mitzvah was held in a square dance hall with a borrowed Torah.
It was not until University when she got involved in her campus Hillel that she had the opportunity to attend Reform, Conservative, Hasidic and Havurah services on a regular basis. Anya had not read Torah since her Bat Mitzvah, but under the mentorship of Judy Karin in Santa Barbara, Anya rediscovered the joy of chanting Torah and learned to read the cantillation markings, or trope, for the first time. Studying Biblical Hebrew under Prof. Randy Garr, at UCSB, she learned how to parse and translate Torah in the scholarly tradition. Anya also spent a blissful month studying Torah “for its own sake” at Lishma, a program for college age adults at Camp Ramah in gorgeous Ojai, California. There she learned to delve into the text and ask difficult questions about meaning and nuance, as well as modern Conservative, Egalitarian observance.
Today she lives among the redwoods once again, in Sonoma County, California, with her two young daughters. Anya considers herself a post-denominational Jew and is an experienced lay-leader of Jewish life cycle events.