A sixth-generation sabra (Jewish native of Israel or, prior to 1948, of the Holy Land, or Palestine), Haim Elisha was born in Jerusalem, where as a young child he absorbed his family’s Sephardi Near Eastern Jewish cultural traditions. He began his musical life as a pianist, studying piano at the Rubin Academy in Jerusalem. Upon his graduation, he came to the United States to further his musical studies, supported in part by a grant from the American-Israel Cultural Foundation. He attended The Juilliard School and the New England Conservatory, and he studied conducting with Pierre Monteux at the Domain School in Maine. During those years he helped support himself by teaching music in various Jewish schools, and he performed in concerts as an advocate of modern Israeli composers. He has served for thirty-eight years on the faculty of the State University of New York (SUNY) in Rockland County as a professor of music and has also been the artistic director and conductor of the Rockland Opera.
Among Elisha’s noteworthy compositions are his Metamorphosis for Brass, which won first prize in the Illinois Fine Arts Festival, and his opera, A Certain Quiet, composed with support grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Sate Council on the Arts.
Elisha is also a highly gifted and accomplished painter, having studied painting seriously since his teen years. He exhibits frequently in New York galleries.
The Milken Archive currently features Haim Elisha's setting of adon has'liḥot as part of A Post-1970's Yom Kippur Afternoon, Memorial and Concluding Services in Volume 3.