Eliana Light, 29


Eliana Light is on a mission to make people smile in synagogue.

“So many of our prayer spaces have become sterile — you sit in a chair and you sing the songs,” she said. “We have to be able to connect the spirituality that people are actively searching for outside of the synagogue to their Jewish heritage.”

A singer/songwriter from an early age, Light aspired to emulate the song leaders she encountered at programs like Camp Ramah Wisconsin and Hava Nashira. She’s now a faculty member at the same song leading gatherings that first inspired her and has released two albums of Jewish music, “A New Light” and “Eliana Sings (About Jewish Things!).”

“I was like, ‘Wait, I can combine all of the things I love — singing and teaching and community building and spirituality and music and facilitation and crafting powerful experiences, and I can put them all together and it’s a job? That I can have? I was so excited,” she said. “I was like, ‘I’m going to do this for the rest of my life.’”

She also channels her creativity to address what she calls “the G!d gap,” defined as “the space between the way you were taught about G!d and what you see in your own life.” She created The G!d Project to address this discrepancy.

“The more I studied spiritual development, I realized there’s a G!d gap at the end of every stage,” she said. “The question is, what do you do with it? You can hold on to that idea of G!d even if it’s painful and shameful and doesn’t feel right. You can give up on that idea of G!d, which I think a lot of people do. A third option is to evolve what you mean by the word G!d. Evolve your theology. That’s the permission that I try to give to people.”

Her upcoming album will be called “Songs About G!d, Volume I.”

“The great thing about writing about G!d is that I’ll never run out of material,” she said.

Merrily we roll along: Light was a figure roller skater in middle school.


Meet the rest of this year’s 36 Under 36 here.