The Tap-Dancing Charedi Woman Who Brings Cheer To Jewish Children All Over The World
Kerry Bar-Cohn might have ended up on Broadway. At fifteen years old, it was her dream. Instead, this tap-dancing charedi mother of four spends her life bringing cheer to Jewish children around the world as “Rebbetzin Tap,” the dynamic singing, dancing star of the Rebbetzin Tap video series. As a child Bar-Con starred in commercials, danced in shows, and was always the lead in school plays. “I was a performer from as early as I can remember. I knew it was my natural talent… [and] I knew specifically my talent was bringing joy,” explains Bar-Cohn.
Born and raised Reform, Bar-Cohn always had a strong Jewish identity. “I was basically raised with the attitude to be a good person, support Israel, and marry a Jew,” she recalls. In her teens, Bar-Cohn began becoming disillusioned with the world of performing. “I didn’t want a life where I was being told ‘look like this and act like this’.” She wanted to sing and dance in order to make people happy. She realized that many actors instead end up getting used for marketing purposes, pushing products they don’t believe in, essentially lying for a living. She decided to let go of those dreams, as she couldn’t see a path forward for herself in performing, that is until she became an Orthodox Jew.
Bar-Cohn went to Israel as a young adult as a secular Zionist, but ending up connecting with religious Jews which inspired her journey to observance. She met her husband in Israel, got married, started a family, worked as chiropractor, but always in the back of her mind there was a small sadness for the talents she had never put to use.
Then in her early 30’s, an all female production of “Annie” came to her town of Ramat Beit Shemesh. It was then that her love of performing was reignited. She realized that by performing as she saw fit – for the purpose of bringing joy and a love of Judaism to the world – she would not have to be at a director’s mercy. She could use her gift in a way that was actually meaningful. Besides performing on video and in live shows, Bar-Cohn speaks to high school and seminary students and explains to them that people often think “If I become frum it’s all these doors are closing, but for me becoming frum was the doors opening.”
Bar-Cohn realized that there was a real lack in quality media for Jewish kids, especially Jewish girls. She and her husband brainstormed and came up with the idea of Rebbetzin Tap and a year later, the first video was produced. Overall, her videos have been met with much positivity, but there were some women she knew who had self-imposed stringencies which they shared with her – that she shows her face on her album cover and speaks with her husband in the videos. Bar-Cohn has never let the naysayers stop her. Her goal is to be a female frum role model and show that being observant can mean acting uninhibited and joyous.
Bar-Cohn explains that the Orthodox community is facing an issue of “not seeing women enough” and that it is so important for girls to see women role models. So she started creating non-singing and dancing informational videos for everyone to watch. To those out there with big dreams, Bar-Cohn instructs, “You have to think about what you want for YOUR life… Hashem doesn’t want you to be everybody else.”