Notable Canadian Jewish Musicians: Aviva Chernick. Award-Winning Hebrew, Ladino, Yiddish, and English Singer.

“If you can’t put your soul into your music, don’t bother to sing at all.”

Flory Jagoda, Bosnian Jewish–born American guitarist, composer and singer-songwriter.

 (December 21, 1923 – January 29, 2021)


Aviva Chernick update 002

Aviva Chernick


Muslic Online

(Updated from an earlier edition today)

Welcome to our weekly Sunday music section called, “Notable Canadian Jewish Musicians”

By David Eisenstadt.

May 30, 2021: According to the Midwest Record, Aviva Chernick’s 2019 album La Serena (The Siren) “is a great antidote for the current state of the world.”

The recording brings together music “from the Jews in Spain and the Balkans, traditional and original melodies with rich poetry in Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) as well as some additional treasures in Hebrew.”  A folk music vocalist who sings in Hebrew, Ladino, Yiddish, and English, Chernick was a co-creator and lead singer of the world music group Jaffa Road with whom she toured Canada, the United States, Brazil, and Israel from 2002-2016.  She said, “I left the group lovingly to pursue other adventures in 2016.”

During those years, Jaffa Road set ancient and original poetry alongside belly dance rhythms, improvisation, and pulsating dub and electronica grooves, employing a wide array of instruments from around the world. Band members include Chris Garner, Aaron Lightstone, Jeff Wilson, and Sundar Viswanathan.

Born and raised in London, Ontario, Canada, Chernick describes herself as “a queer Jewish artist, a white settler based in Tkaronto” (Toronto, Canada).

Her musical work has been influenced by her training in both cantorial arts and meditation. She teaches meditation at the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, and founded and leads neySHEV, the online Jewish meditation and singing community.

Over the years, Chernick has performed with “many wonderful musicians including ‘Lori Cullen, Yair Dalal, Levon Ichkhanian, Flory Jagoda, Frank London, Jackie Richardson, Maryem Tollar and Ken Whitely.’”

Chernick is the first Canadian to win a Virginia Folk Life apprenticeship to continue her studies with her mentor, Sephardic musician Flory Jagoda. Jagoda is considered an ‘American National Treasure,’ and her music is featured on La Serena.

CJNonline Aviva Chernick – La Serena (The Siren) 002

Aviva Chernick – La Serena (The Siren)

>>> Click here to watch the video <<<

She has received two Canadian Folk Music Award (CFMA) nominations for La Serena in 2020 and in 2012 for When I Arrived You Were Already There.  Add in two Juno Award nominations for both of Jaffa Road’s albums Where The Light Gets In (2013) and Sun Place (2010), plus a CFMA Award for Where The Light Gets In and a CFMA nomination in 2009 for The Huppah Project’s Under The Canopy.  She and her Jaffa Road co-writers were awarded the John Lennon International Songwriting Contest Grand Prize for their prayer for peace, titled Lo Yisa Goy.  Chernick also co-wrote Ana El Na, recognized by the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals (OCFF) winning the prestigious Song from the Heart Award.

In 2019 she was named Toronto’s Beth Tzedec Synagogue’s first Artist in Residence where she “teaches spiritual practice, meditation, nurtures creativity and leads prayer.” She continues to be engaged with the Greater Toronto Area community through musical expression and leadership.

CJNonline Aviva Chernick 008

Justin Gray, Aviva Chernick, Joel Schwartz

Besides actively touring and performing over the past 24 years, she has served various communities across North America by leading and teaching about the voice in prayer and contemplative practice. As a Mindfulness Meditation Teacher who received her training at the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, she continues to teach an online program on niggun and the voice in prayer she co-designed with Rabbi Sam Feinsmith.  She was chosen as one of 18 Jewish Prayer Leaders to participate at the Hadar Rising Song Fellowship in Philadelphia, PA., in 2018.

With conductor Evan Mitchell she will be joining the London Symphonia for, as she explained, “a unique concert experience that touches on themes of beauty, spirituality, and balance through the rich tapestry of music from Jewish origins.”  The soulful music of Ernest Bloch and Gustav Mahler will be woven together with original songs by Chernick, as well as those written by “my beloved mentor, Flory Jagoda,” she added.

Her newest collaborative project – La Serena Quartet, with Aviva on vocals, features guitarist Joel Schwartz; Justin Gray playing bass and bass veena (invented by Gray, this is a hybrid bass instrument which according to Gray, draws inspiration from North Indian stringed instruments, primarily the Sarode and Rudra Veena) and Naghmeh Farahmand on Persian hand drums and drum kit.

Music notes

Photo and music credits: Aviva Chernick Music/YouTube; avivachernick.com; Dahlia Katz.

A complete list of David Eisenstadt’s articles can be viewed under Music Online in the Category section.

Do you have comments or questions about Aviva Chernick? Contact David Eisenstadt at cjnonline@protonmail.com


David Eisenstadt

David Eisenstadt is Founding Partner of tcgpr.com the Canadian Partner of IPREX Global Communication and a graduate of Carleton University’s School of Journalism and the University of Calgary.

Reader’s Comments

-Thank you all for these warm comments from around the country and thanks to David Eisenstadt for the column. You are doing a cool thing. – AC, Toronto, Canada

-Thank you for this column David,  I know and love Aviva Chernick. When  my daughter turned 50, Aviva was “the Birthday Present” that their mutual friend brought to my daughter’s home to give a personal concert.  My daughter and her friend worked together at CBC and Harbourfront for many years and Aviva was featured frequently.  Besides her wonderful voice and skills with so many languages, Aviva is a warm, lovely person. – ES, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

– I just received a very nice note from friends in Ottawa, Canada  in light of your essay on Aviva Chernick.  Before turning professional, Aviva was a camper and counselor at Camp Ramah.  She was there before me. but I know she was quite popular.  There’s a Camp Ramah Facebook page and I posted the article there. – MK, Toronto, Canada.

-Thanks for this David. Aviva is making quite the name for herself! Flory Jagoda was a good friend of mine, and an excellent mentor for Aviva.  – CO, Toronto, Canada

-Read your column on Aviva Chernick which I really enjoyed. I went to camp with her father 70 years ago! – SM, Toronto, Canada

-Again, you have provided me with an enjoyable read, David. I plan to follow her on social media. – MR, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada


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