Rivka Amado was born in Holon, Israel, and grew up in a Ladino speaking home, where she learned traditional melodies from her grandmother. She moved to Jerusalem after her army service, graduated from Hebrew University, and then made her home in Jerusalem, save for a brief period in graduate school in Canada. She moved to the Bay Area in 2004.
Rivka earned her PhD from the University of Toronto in 1990, held post-doctoral fellowships in medical ethics at the Hastings Center and Hebrew University, and has published widely in medical ethics and related fields. She taught at Bar Ilan University for ten years, and also taught at Tel Aviv Medical School, Stanford, Berkeley, and Princeton, and has received several awards for her scholarship and teaching. Since coming to the Bay Area, Rivka has merged her scholarly and musical work both in the United States and Israel.
For years Rivka sang Ladino songs and played the piano informally, and sang in her synagogue choir in Jerusalem. Since moving to the Bay Area, she has dedicated much of her time to researching Sephardic culture and performing traditional Ladino music.
She has developed a program, A Journey Back to Spain, in which she recounts how the Jews of Spain have been able to maintain their identity for five hundred years, long after their expulsion, first from Spain and then from the entire Iberian Peninsula. In this program she mixes historical narrative, accounts of Sephardic culture, and popular Ladino songs. This program unites Rivka's two halves; her musical half and her scholarly half. Since developing this and other programs, Rivka has performed in Sephardic venues around the Bay Area, the New York Sephardic Festival, and in New Jersey, Florida, Israel, and Adelaide and Melbourne, Australia.
In March 2009 she released Hija Mia, an album of traditional Ladino songs, accompanied by an ensemble of talented musicians. She is planning a second album which will contain more traditional Ladino songs, as well as original compositions of her own in Ladino, Hebrew, and English.
In 2013, Rivka launched a new project, "Sephardic Flamenco Fusion," which combines Ladino songs with Flamenco rhythms and music. The new group of collaborators includes a flamenco guitarist, a dancer, and a percussionist, all of whom have lived in both Israel and Spain, and blended their interests into a true synthesis of Flamenco and Ladino music.