web analytics
September 3, 2014 / 8 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

His Gift Will Last Long After Others Have Faded


Editor’s Note: Cheshvan 16 (Nov. 3 this year) was Shlomo Carlebach’s 15th yahrzeit.

In the fall of 1993, I had the wonderful experience of interviewing Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. Both a controversial personality and a dynamic presence, Reb Shlomo never lost his unqualified love for his fellow Jew, though he was well aware the feeling was not always reciprocal.

His apartment, located above the Carlebach Shul (formally known as Congregation Kehilat Jacob) on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, was not exactly what one might have expected from a world-famous singer/songwriter.

Religious books peeked out of every corner, and the walls were barren except for a photograph of Reb Shlomo’s deceased and greatly loved twin brother, Rabbi Eli Chaim Carlebach. On the table were pictures of Kever Rachel, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (complete with dollar bill), and Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson (whom Reb Shlomo considered a personal adviser and spiritual mentor).

As we sat at one of his long folding tables, presumably there to accommodate a wealth of Shabbos and melaveh malkah guests, I got the distinct feeling Reb Shlomo saw himself as a person who was often misunderstood.

“The world is afraid of anything new,” he said. “There is a Torah insight that explains that though we think people are afraid of darkness, the truth is that they are afraid of light.”

Reb Shlomo obviously felt a parallel between that statement and his own experiences in the world of Torah Judaism.

“I began my career in the early sixties,” he recalled. “At that time I was accepted everywhere. And why not? There were some good niggunim, some good singing. But I realized that between songs people’s hearts are open; they don’t put up their defenses when I sing. So I decided to sneak in some good Torah and good stories.

“And I was really able to reach people who were unreachable…. People who, for instance, were into drugs because they were searching for something higher – looking for a feeling so complete and so soul shaking.”

Actually – and this, amazingly enough, is something still not universally acknowledged in certain frum circles – Shlomo Carlebach was a pioneer in the kiruv movement, a charismatic force who drew thousands of Jews to Jewish observance.

His House of Love and Prayer, which operated between 1967 and 1976, provided a milieu where youngsters in the San Francisco area, who otherwise would have been lost to their religious heritage, could express their spirituality in a Jewish context.

“Once, back in the House of Love and Prayer,” Reb Shlomo related, “I was visited by [hallucogenic drug enthusiast] Timothy Leary during Friday night davening. You know, he told me that his whole life he’d been looking to turn people on without drugs. He said, ‘I may be into LSD, but it’s only out of emergency. But I see you Jews have the answer. Shabbos is the best drug in the world.’ ”

Indeed, Reb Shlomo considered Shabbos the main ingredient to the Jewish experience.

“You know,” he told me, “the non-religious of Eretz Yisrael are actually quite open. If someone says the non-religious hate the religious, it’s not true. Friday night, when I go to the Holy Wall, I see the non-religious. They want so much for something to happen to them. They want so much for someone to say ‘Gut Shabbos’ to them.

“At the beginning of my career, I played the Berkeley Folk Festival. Friday morning, when I was performing, I said to the kids, who were about 70 percent Jewish, ‘I don’t know what you are doing tonight, but I am going to the synagogue. If anybody wants to join me, wait for me in front of the hotel at seven o’clock and we’ll go together.’

“You know what? A thousand kids showed up!”

Despite what others may have thought, Reb Shlomo felt that ultimately there was no conflict between himself and the various segments of the Orthodox community.

“They want them [i.e. the secular] to keep Shabbos, I want them to keep Shabbos. They want them to put on tefillin, I want them to put on tefillin…. I don’t tell people what to do; I want them first to get a taste of Yiddishkeit. And I want them to love it so much that they will want to do it.

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.

No Responses to “His Gift Will Last Long After Others Have Faded”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Hamas's leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh (in blue shirt, center), benefitted politically - and in a dramatic fashion - from this summer's war.  Photo from Hamas victory rally, Aug. 27, 2014.
Gazan Deaths and Destruction Dramatically Drives Popularity for Hamas
Latest Indepth Stories
1347905461_5613_Mideast_Israel_Palestinians_Rosh_Hashana_05475

“these soldiers are on the front lines of a war that the entire world is fighting”

yesha1

Hayovel’s vision: to share with them (Jews) a passion for the soon coming jubilee in yeshua messiah.”

Tibets spiritual leader Dalai Lama.

Dalai Lama: In the interest of Tibetans today to have peaceful co-existence with the Chinese.

Hamas Quote on Death

However, 40+ countries still use capital punishment for a variety of offenses.

The War projects to lower Israel’s 2014 GDP 0.5% but will have little influence on foreign investors

It is in the nature of the Nations of the World to be hostile towards the Jewish People.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad are actually fighting to “liberate Jerusalem and all Palestine.”

The bad news is that ISIS and Al Qaeda are on the Syrian Golan. The good news is that every terrorist in Syria is killing each other.

The congregants, Ethiopians spanning generations, were beaming with joy and pride.

The withdrawal from the Gaza Strip nine years ago did not enhance Israel’s security.

How does a soldier from a religious home fall in love with a soldier from a non- religious kibbutz?

In 19th century entire ancient Jewish communities fled Palestine to escape brutal Muslim authorities

Responsibility lies with both the UN and Hamas, and better commitments should have been demanded from both parties in the ceasefire.

But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.

If this is how we play the game, we will lose. By that I mean we will lose everything.

More Articles from Michael R. Paley

In the fall of 1993, I had the wonderful experience of interviewing Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. Both a controversial personality and a dynamic presence, Reb Shlomo never lost his unqualified love for his fellow Jew, though he was well aware the feeling was not always reciprocal.

Just a month after being diagnosed with cancer, and now practically confined to a bed as a method of pain control, I couldn’t sleep, so I picked up the Maharal’s Drush Na’eh l’Shabbos T’shuvah, which I had been hoping to read prior to Yom Kippur.

The singer and political activist Bono recently caused a stir when word got out that his California-based venture capital firm, Elevation Partners, invested around $300 million in Forbes magazine, and, more significantly, that his band’s company, U2 Unlimited, which holds the rights to U2′s master tapes, moved to the Netherlands to pay a lower corporate tax rate.

In 2001, Mexican president Vicente Fox made something of a splash when he, contrary to his campaign rhetoric, came out in support of the decriminalization of small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use. Fox noted that, despite the number of people imprisoned for drug trafficking, and despite the legal penalties for the possession and use of substances, drug use was going up, not down.

Is this something the Jewish community should be concerned with, or, should we keep our noses out of such matters – at least until it affects one of our homes or businesses?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/his-gift-will-last-long-after-others-have-faded/2009/11/11/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: