A graduate of Bialystoker Centre Kindergarten in Robe Street St Kilda, Tomi spoke only Yiddish until she started school. She started piano at age five.
After finishing high school in Australia, Tomi moved to Israel, studied English, French and Russian Literatures at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, then lived and taught on Kibbutz Yizra’el, in the Jezreel Valley.
After a few years living and working in San Francisco, Tomi returned to Australia, became a founding member of “The Hot Bagels” cabaret group, was “talent-spotted” by Barry Humphries and became his musical director for five years, travelling around Australia and New Zealand in style.
Tomi joined the Melbourne Yiddish theatre scene in 1988 and has been part of it ever since, performing in countless productions, as both musician and actor. She has worked with Evelyn Krape (founding member of the Pram Factory theatre collective) for over thirty years, on countless projects, from “Ginger” at the Malthouse Playbox in 1992, to “Ek Velt”, (with Elisa Gray making up the Zaftik theatrical troupe) at the Montreal International festival of Yiddish Theater in 2011 and at Kulturfest NYC 2015. She works in an ongoing creative partnership with Evelyn and Galit Klas to create and stage contemporary Yiddish theatre under the auspices of the Kadimah Jewish Cultural Centre and National Library.
Tomi has been conductor of Melbourne’s Yiddish choir “Mir Kumen On” since June 2008. She teaches Yiddish to adults and runs a Yiddish Schmooze group at Montefiore Homes’ Active Living Centre, where she learns more than she teaches, from the Holocaust survivors who make up the group. She is chief piano accompanist at Melbourne’s trilingual (Yiddish-Hebrew-English) primary school, Sholem Aleichem College.
Tomi is a member of several bands, including Melbourne’s Klezmer-jazz-funk-fusion big band “YID!”, creating and performing Yiddish spoken-word for their performances, from WOMADelaide 2018 to the Ashkenaz Festival in Toronto, Canada. “The Ghetto Cabaret Orchestra” is another project, specializing in Yiddish tangos and waltzes.
Tomi is currently putting together an all-female Klezmer-inspired big band, “Bobe Yakhne”. Yiddish songs are part of the very fibre of her being; they are her “neshome-musik”, her “soul music”.