web analytics
November 26, 2014 / 4 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Reb Shlomo Carlebach’s Early Years in New York


The twin brothers, Eli Chaim and Shlomo Carlebach, rowing on a summer vacation in the Catskill Mountains, probably summer 1948. Courtesy of Hadassa Carlebach and Sheina Carlebach Berkowitz.

The twin brothers, Eli Chaim and Shlomo Carlebach, rowing on a summer vacation in the Catskill Mountains, probably summer 1948. Courtesy of Hadassa Carlebach and Sheina Carlebach Berkowitz.

Shlomo’s father suffered a heart attack in 1948. Shlomo stopped learning full-time in the Lakewood Yeshiva to spend more time at home in Manhattan. He also began to frequent the chasidic courts more often, especially Chabad, Modzitz, and Bobov. Sometime around 1950, when his father wasn’t feeling well, Shlomo filled in to teach his weeky Torah portion class. The students enjoyed it so much that they requested that he continue giving the class. Soon Shlomo set up a learning group called T.S.G.G. (pronounced TASGIG), an acronym for Taste And See God Is Good, based on the verse in Psalms 34:9. He explained this verse using a teaching of R. Nahman of Breslov to say that “you cannot begin to talk to people about God unless you have first given them a taste of how God is Good.” T.S.G.G. operated for a number of years as a co-ed program, the first such chasidic outreach program in America. Chaim Waxman, who participated in this group when he was 15 years old, described how TSGG included “small groups of maybe ten to fifteen teenagers and young adults” who joined together “for singing and inspiration.”

Marilyn Schwadron (Hittner) was one of the participants in TSGG. One day in 1951 or 1952, Shlomo took his class to 770 Eastern Parkway for a yechidus with the Rebbe. Marilyn began corresponding with the Rebbe. When the question arose of finding suitable employment that would not hurt her Shabbat observance, the Rebbe advised her to have Shlomo contact Rabbi Chaskel Besser. This was the beginning of a unique friendship between the two men which, forty years later, led to Shlomo’s pioneering concert tour of Poland in January 1989.

In 1950, Shlomo and his father attended a Hebrew language ulpan taught by Prof. Isaac Barzilay. The class was held at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), just four subway stops from their Manhattan residence. Shlomo would practice playing the piano at JTS (only later in 1955 did he take up the guitar). At JTS Shlomo made some lifelong friends with future rabbis who later opened the doors to his performing at non-Orthodox congregations. Jack Riemer was a student at JTS when he first met Shlomo in the early 1950s. Riemer, who became one of the best-known and most-quoted writers in the rabbinate, invited Shlomo to perform several concerts over the years:

I arranged several visits for Shlomo at the synagogues where I served as rabbi in Boston, Massachusetts at Temple Sinai of Swampscott and Marblehead (1957–1961), and Temple Beth Hillel in Mattapan (1961–1964); then in Dayton, Ohio at Congregation Beth Abraham (1964–1978), and finally in La Jolla, California at Congregation Beth El (1978–1986). Each time that Shlomo came he had a wonderful impact.

When Shlomo would play the piano at JTS, people would stop to listen. It was an unusual sight to see a Chabad fellow playing chasidic melodies at JTS. Sara Schafler-Kelman was one of those impressed. She invited Shlomo to a pre-Shabbat program at the Hillel Center on Convent Avenue. Shlomo was afraid that his English was not fluent and that his accent was Yiddish, but Sara answered that he could sing chasidic tunes and need not speak much. She prepared a poster entitled The Place of Music in the Hassidic Tradition. This was Shlomo’s first invited performance for college students.

Nine years later, in 1959, Sara attended a concert by Shlomo on motzaei Shabbat. When she walked in with her husband, Rabbi Shmuel Schafler, and three of their children, Shlomo immediately recognized her:

As soon as I entered the auditorium Reb Shlomo spotted me. He jumped off the stage, ran to meet and embrace me. I couldn’t believe that so many years later he still remembered me. He said, Sara – Do you know that you were the first person who invited me to perform before an audience? You were my very first sponsor. You gave me a title for my life’s work.

During his early years in New York, Shlomo had been learning and conversing mostly in Yiddish. He began learning English in a special Columbia University program in 1951. His teacher happened to be a vice president of the League for Arab Refugees, but Shlomo credits her not only in instructing him in “phonetic rudiments” of English, but also for encouraging him towards a singing career by pointing out that he had a “fine ear for sounds.” Becoming fluent in English at the age of 26, Shlomo developed an idiosyncratic grammar that became his hallmark. His mixture of Yiddish words such as “mamash,” gevalt,” heilige,” and “nebech” provided his listeners, some of whom were quite assimilated, with a nostalgic reminder of a chasidic Eastern European life and culture that had been lost in the Holocaust. These expressions eventually became part and parcel of the modern Carlebach followers’ mode of speech and a linguistic part of what one might call a neo-chasidic identity.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

8 Responses to “Reb Shlomo Carlebach’s Early Years in New York”

  1. Natan Ophir says:

    The footnotes were apparently omitted here because of space considerations. Whoever would like to read them please write to me at CarlebachBook@gmail.com

  2. Karen Blake says:

    Natan has done a wonderful job on his book, (Shlomo and I were extremely close)

  3. Avi Kunstler says:

    I believe at the time Torah vodaas was located in williamsburgh and not kensington (where it is today)

  4. Natan Ophir says:

    Dear Avi, Thank you for the correction. Might you know the address of Torah Vodaas before it moved to 452 and 425 East 9th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11218, where it is located today? And when did it move?

  5. Avi Kunstler says:

    Not exactly sure when they moved but chances are in r shlomos day they were on Wilson st ….then they went to south third and after many many years there (at least into the mid to late 60s (or later) to the current location

  6. Paula George says:

    it is so amazing how much the present Rabbi Naftali of Carlebach Shul looks like his grandfather, Eli Chaim

  7. Dvorah Halevi says:

    That's correct , it w as located I Williamsburgh. My great uncle was a Rebbe there at the time.

  8. Nachum Meir Grafstein says:

    gevalt

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Posted to Twitter in Ferguson, MO by St. Louis County Police: "Bricks thrown at police, 2 police cars burned, gun seized by police. Tonight was disappointing."  Their motto is, "To protect and serve."
Pro-ISIS Group Says ‘Use Ferguson Flames to Fuel Terror in America’
Latest Indepth Stories
Red Line Obama

“What’s a line between friends?”

West_Bank_&_Gaza_Map_2007_(Settlements)

Unrest in YESHA and J’m helps Abbas and Abdullah defuse anger, gain politically and appear moderates

Thousands of rabbis pose in front of Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters in Brooklyn on Sunday during the annual International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries.

A “Shliach” means to do acts with complete devotion and dedication in order to help bring Moshiach.

Arabs create opening for terrorists to walk the security wall between Ramallah and Jerusalem and Ramallah.

Here, things seem to get a little hazy, why should a Jewish State “based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel” confine itself to ensuring “complete equality… irrespective of religion, race, etc.”, especially when this includes “Arab inhabitants” who launched an “onslaught” against the State, months before it even existed? […]

“We don’t just care for the children; we make sure they have the best quality of life.”

“Why do people get complacent with the things they’re told?”

Arab opposition to a Jewish State of any size was made known by word and deed in the form of terror

Operation Moses: First time in history that non-blacks came to Africa to free blacks from oppression

As Arabs murder and maim Jews, Jordan’s leaders bark the blood libel of “Israeli aggression.”

Perhaps attacking a terrorist’s legacy broadly and publicly would dissuade others from terrorism?

R’ Aryeh yelled “Run, I’ll fight!” Using a chair against terrorists to buy time so others could flee

Riot started when Muslim students wore the Pal. kaffiyeh and Druze students demanded them removed

The “Media” didn’t want us to know what a kind, giving, loving young woman Dalia was.

A “Palestine” could become another Lebanon, with many different factions battling for control.

Maimonides himself walked and prayed in the permissible areas when he visited Eretz Yisrael in 1165

Having a strong community presence at the polls shows our elected officials we care about the issues

More Articles from Jewish Press Staff
Aaron Klein

Dmitri Diliani, a spokesperson for Fatah in Jerusalem and a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, had taken issue with Klein’s characterization of recent violence in Jerusalem as being instigated by the Palestinians.

This video from RT was taken as victims were being evacuated from the Har Nof synagogue where Arabs terrorists from eastern Jerusalem axed, knifed and shot to death four Jews while they were praying.

“The Mohammed who stole Christmas – and Yom Kippur.”

Dan, a veteran of the US Combat Engineers corps is participating in an IDF Torah dedication on Sunday, this is his story.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/reb-shlomo-carlebachs-early-years-in-new-york/2013/11/21/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: