Aliya Cheskis-Cotel: Educator/Agent Extraordinaire
By Alan Manheim
Educator/agent Aliya-Cheskis-Cotel. Kolot Management has a strict policy of only representing Jewish, not necesserily religious, artists, performers, educators that are committed to the Jewish community.
A mother and daughter were about to arrive for their joint bat mitzvah lessons as Aliya finished the interview. Tea and delicious homemade cake had been enjoyed. Aliya Cheskis-Cotel, prominent in the field of Jewish education, is known for tutoring students who, for whatever reason, cannot successfully learn through traditional methods. She has been an educator, for over twenty-five years, tailoring her teaching approach individually for each student.
But the interview was not about Aliya's amazing success as a teacher -- rather about tragedy and life-changing events.
Aliya was married to a remarkable man, a gifted musician, pianist, and composer, Moshe Cotel. At the age of sixty Moshe Cotel became a rabbi. He developed a repertoire of performances that he called Chronicles: A Jewish Life at the Classical Piano. Rabbi Cotel used these performances to teach Torah through classical music.
Aliya made all the arrangements for her husband's performances, acting as his agent. She was so successful that Rabbi Cotel convinced her to quit her job as Director of Congregational Learning at East End Temple in New York City, and be a full time agent for him. She agreed and proceeded to book a 30-stop tour of engagements throughout the United States, with another twenty stops as possibilities. One day before the tour was to begin, Rabbi Cotel, donned his tallit, said his morning prayers, and peacefully died.
Aliya, in her grief, had to inform all thirty venues that Rabbi Cotel had passed away. the tour cancelled. After sitting Shiva, reality struck and Aliya was now a widow with no employment. She resumed teaching but was bombarded by requests from many Jewish artists that she represent them. Her answer was "No, I only did it for him."
It was a year and a half after Rabbi Cotel's death, in 2009 that Aliya, met the amazing comedian, Joel Chasnoff, at a conference. He asked her to represent him and after thinking about it for 3 days she said yes. Initially, from a list of 38 artists she chose three others to represent. A singer-storyteller Linda Hirschhorn, a singing group called Vocolot and a Rabbi/Author, Wayne Dosick.
In the first year representing Joel Chasnoff, Kolot Management, Aliya's newly formed talent agency, booked him in 80 different cities.
Kolot Management has a strict policy of only representing Jewish artists, performers, educators that are committed to the Jewish community. They do not have to be religious but they need to give support to the various cultural and educational Jewish institutions around the country. The second policy is that they help raise funds for the institutions in which they perform...it's part of their contract and commitment,
Under Aliya-Cheskis-Cotel's leadership, Kolot Management now represents eleven artists, which is about the maximum that her time and energy would allow. She estimated that it takes at least twenty-nine individual contacts (phone calls, emails, etc.) to finalize one booking for one artist.
The feedback from the synagogues, JCC's, and other Jewish venues across the country indicate that Kolot Management provides entertainment, education, spirituality and needed funds.
The Kolot Management web site has all the information necessary to discover the varied group of talented entertainers that are available for booking. And the tragic death of a gifted, talented, loving husband initiated the formation of an agency that supports Jewish communities across the United States.