I was there, 20 some years ago, with my friend who got his smicha from Shlomo. It was my first and only encounter with Reb Shlomo Carlebach. At one point our eyes met and he gestured to me something like, “Where have you been all this time?” I swear, I never saw anything like that in my life. That Hoshana Rabba service changed me in profound ways. I started davening in a Chassidic minyan on the Lower East Side, and began to embrace an approach to Yiddishkeit that praises humility over the other options. It’s a work in progress, obviously. It’s been 20 years. I’ve been to Reb Shlomo’s funeral, a few months later. I don’t have the same claim on his legacy that so many others do, but I can tell you I miss him very much. The world is a darker place for his absence. Still, I believe he would have advocated simcha on Chol Hamoed, rather than sad nostalgia, so, please, play this hour of pure joy and act accordingly!
Have a happy and dry sukkah!