Born in Melbourne in November 1951, to Polish-Jewish refugee parents who had arrived in Australiain 1947, on one of the first post-war ships from Europe, Tomi’s first language was Yiddish. From the age of two and a half, she attended Bialystoker Centre Kindergarten, a secular Yiddish kindergarten, in St. Kilda. Luckily, her kindergarten teachers noticed her musical talents and she began piano lessons at the age of five.
After completing Year 12 at MacRobertson Girl’s High School, Tomi moved to Israel, where she completed an Arts degree and Dip. Ed. At the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, lived and taught English, Music, Piano and Yoga in Jerusalem, on Kibbutz Yizra’el, then in San Francisco U.S.A.
Upon her return to Melbourne in late 1979, Tomi became part of the blossoming theatre-restaurant comedy-cabaret scene, co-founding “The Hot Bagels” and later working as touring Musical Director for Barry Humphries (“Dame Edna Everage”) for five years, throughout Australia and New Zealand.
After giving birth to a son and a daughter, Tomi returned to teaching, including English as a Second Language, in migrant and refugee hostels and Language Centres, classroom Music and private piano lessons.
In 1988 she also returned to her first loves, Yiddish music and theatre. She has since participated as musician, actor and Musical Director in countless plays, events, ceremonies and commemorations involving Yiddish music, theatre, language and literature.
Tomi has taught and continues to teach Yiddish to teenagers and adults, as well as participating in tertiary Yiddish programs to develop and improve her own Yiddish.
In 2009, Tomi was a guest participant in the 1st International Festival of Yiddish Theatre in Montreal, Canada. She returned to Montreal in June 2011, for the 2nd festival, as part of the “Zaftik” theatre troupe, presenting the world premiere of “Ek Velt”.
Tomi hopes to continue inspiring herself and others by exploring and sharing the treasures of her “dreaming” – the rich Yiddish-Australian cultural heritage she was lucky enough to be born into!