Reb Drew's Bio

Rabbi Andrew Hahn is excited to co-facilitate services this year with Cantorial Soloist Ariella Forstein for the SRQ Jews Without Borders Open Door High Holy Days. While he is sure that his dear, dear friend, Rabbi Elyssa Joy Austerklein will prove a hard act to follow, he hopes to rally us all and build on her legacy of creating dynamic, eclectic services that are ever-new and fresh to the moment, while at the same time deeply familiar.

Affectionately known as ‘Reb Drew,’ Rabbi Hahn combines a variety of tools to introduce Jewish Wisdom to an increasingly global, religious village. He holds a Ph.D. in Jewish Thought from the Jewish Theological Seminary (Conservative) and received rabbinic ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (Reform), both in New York City. He has also studied at the feet of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, founder of the Jewish Renewal Movement. Dubbed “a Shlomo Carlebach for the twenty-first century,” in his main professional activity, he weaves traditional Jewish liturgy and musical modes into the increasingly popular call-and-response chant technology from India, known as Kirtan.

Reb Drew hails from Pittsburgh, PA where he – literally – grew up in Mr. Roger’s neighborhood. As a child, he was very musical and studied classical guitar. He attended the conservatory at Carnegie-Mellon University before transferring to Hampshire College. After completing a B.A. in philosophy and literature at Hampshire, Reb Drew lived in Berlin, Germany where, ironically, he first discovered a deeper connection to Judaism.

When he returned to the States, he took on various jobs as a nursery school teacher and with Jewish organizations. In short order, he matriculated at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he completed his Ph.D., with a focus on medieval Jewish philosophy and creation theology. During this period, he studied and researched in Israel for two years, where he was a fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. Upon earning his Ph.D., Reb Drew immediately entered rabbinical school at HUC-JIR where he was ordained in 2003. During this time – and before discovering himself as the Kirtan Rabbi – Reb Drew served as student Rabbi in Fredericksburg, VA and in Great Barrington, MA. He also has taught widely as an adult educator in the NYC area, and was adjunct professor at rabbinical schools including JTS and the Academy for Jewish Religion; he also taught college religion as institutions such as New York University and Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA.

A more quiet side of his personality, Reb Drew has also been teaching martial arts for decades. Packaging these skills together, he visits synagogues, JCCs, college campuses, and yoga centers internationally and has been in-residence at Shabbatonim, multi-day retreats and West Coast festivals. He is equally at home singing with a small circle, co-leading a Kabbalat Shabbat service, or bringing a full-on, rocking concert to the big stage.

Reb Drew served as Visiting Rabbi for Metivta: a Center for Contemplative Judaism in Los Angeles. He has long been resident faculty at Clal: the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership in New York, where he recently founded the not-for-profit Kirtan Rabbi Prayer Initiative.

In all that he does, Reb Drew seeks to make Torah accessible, deep and fun, — to Jew and non-Jew alike — in a way that is participatory and memorable. He has produced three CDs: “Kirtan Rabbi: Live” (2008); “Achat Sha’alti: One Thing I Seek” (2010); and “Nondual” (2015); as well as  single, Shiviti. In the coming year, he hopes to release a fourth song cycle entitled Hallel.

While he’s sure that you will be treated to some delightful elements of kirtan chanting here and there over the upcoming holidays, Reb Drew and Ariella – with the SRQ Jews without Borders musicians – will build upon Rabbi Elyssa’s creative mixture of traditional High Holy Day themes, the season’s hauntingly familiar melodies and impromptu meditations.

For more information on Rabbi Hahn, Kirtan Rabbi, or Hebrew kirtan, go to his website:

Rabbi Elyssa Joy Auster is delighted to return for the SRQ Jews Without Borders Open Door High Holy Days, after an uplifting, moving, and spiritual time together last year.

Rabbi Elyssa is the Rabbi and Director of Jewish Life at the JCC of Greater Washington. Before coming to the Washington DC area, Rabbi Elyssa served as the Rabbi and sole clergy for Temple Judea, a Conservative congregation in Ft. Myers Florida, where she was a United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism two-time grant winner for Young Adult programming.

After completing a BA at Brandeis University and a Masters of Theological Studies at Boston University School of Theology (where she studied alongside those entering the Methodist ministry), Rabbi Elyssa went on to pursue her love of God and Torah in the rabbinate. She received rabbinic smicha and a Masters of Jewish Education from Hebrew College of Newton, MA in 2011. While still in school, she held the pulpit of a Reform congregation in Fairbanks, Alaska over the course of three years. Rabbi Elyssa has also served as rabbi, cantor, and Jewish educator in Massachusetts, Illinois, and Ohio.

Rabbi Elyssa has been published in "The Forward" and in "eJewish Philanthropy," is a trained mikveh guide, has led Hallel with Women of the Wall in Jerusalem, and has two children's books she wrote and illustrated and hopes to publish. She was a "Rabbi on the Road" for the Institute of Southern Jewish Life, is an innovator in prayer services, and a teacher of contemplative Judaism in diverse venues from college campuses to the OHALAH Clergy Association conference. Rabbi Elyssa was a 2013-2014 Rabbis Without Borders fellow.

Over the summer of 2014, Rabbi Elyssa sang contemporary chants of the Psalms in the Scottish Hebrides, lead Shabbat services in Dublin, Ireland, and taught a course at the National Havurah Institute in Rindge, New Hampshire.

Rabbi Elyssa is an artist, tallit maker, and a certified yoga teacher. She is married to another passionate clergyperson, Hazzan Matthew Klein.