Merri Lovinger Arian serves as Professor of Practice in Liturgical Arts and Music Education for the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music (DFSSM) and the Rabbinical School of HUC-JIR/New York. She offers courses in Music Education, Conducting, Congregational Singing, Worship, and Contemporary Repertoire. In addition, she serves as co-supervisor of the Tefillah program. Merri previously served as Program Director, and then Director of Music for Synagogue 2000 (S2K), a leading trans-denominational institute developing models for revitalizing synagogue life. She served as Synagogue 3000’s consultant on liturgical arts at HUC-JIR in New York and continues to supervise rabbinic and cantorial students in creating worship collaboratively at the College-Institute.
A long-standing faculty member for Hava Nashira, the well-respected training institute for temple musicians, cantors, rabbis, educators, and songleaders, Merri served as its faculty coordinator from 2005 – 2011. She currently serves as the faculty coordinator for Shabbat Shira, the newest offshoot of Hava Nashira, under the auspices of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). Merri also frequently serves on the faculty of the North American Jewish Choral Festival. Merri was invited to conduct the Biennial Choir for the URJ Biennial in 2013 and 2015.
Merri is frequently invited as an artist-in-residence in congregations across the country. She has also served as a music consultant to a number of congregations, exploring with the clergy team ways to enhance the worship in their congregation. She had the honor of singing with Debbie Friedman, z”l, in Carnegie Hall and has performed and lead music programs for HUC-JIR, the URJ, the Wexner Heritage Foundation, JFNA Lions of Judah, the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, and Jewish Women’s Archives, among others.
She has written about the use of music in creating sacred community. In her newest book, Leveling the Praying Field, Merri shares methods and melodies to elevate congregational worship. She has also written on the educational value of youth choirs, and along with her husband, Rabbi Ramie Arian, published a book and accompanying album of original choral arrangements entitled NFTY in Harmony.
Merri holds an M.A. in Teaching, a B.F.A. in Music Education, and a Certificate in Music Therapy.