web analytics
July 6, 2015 / 19 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


The Real and Radical Legacy of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

“He was part hippie, part yippie, part beatnik, and part New Age,” – Elli Wohlgelernter in a Jerusalem Post eulogy in 1994.
Reb Shlomo Carlebach

Reb Shlomo Carlebach

More robust accounts of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach’s life have come to the surface following 20 years after he died on Oct. 20, 1994.

Earlier this year, Natan Ophir published the book “Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach: Life, Mission & Legacy.” This past summer, Rabbi Shlomo Katz’s “The Soul of Jerusalem” hit the shelves.

But even the authors will admit that this larger-than-life, soul-hugging rabbi’s legacy cannot be fully captured in black-and-white pages.

“Shlomo did not seem to fit any restrictive, defining label,” Ophir told JNS.org. “Reb Shlomo was… a charismatic teacher who combined storytelling, sermonic exegesis, and inspirational insights into creating a new form of heartfelt, soulful Judaism filled with a love for all human beings.”

Carlebach, born in Germany from where his family fled following the Nazi invasion, immigrated to New York in March 1939 from Lithuania, just six months before the Nazis invaded that country. In 1945, the family moved to Manhattan so his father, Rabbi Naphtali Carlebach, could take over Congregation Kehilath Jacob on W. 79th Street. After his father’s passing, Carlebach assumed leadership of the synagogue, today known as “The Carlebach Shul.”

It was from his home base at The Carlebach Shul that Shlomo Carlebach set up the first known Hassidic outreach program, Taste and See God is Good (T.S.G.G.). According to Ophir, the organization was based on the idea that, as Carlebach said, “You cannot begin to talk to people about God unless you have first given them a taste of God is good.”

In 1968, Carlebach established the House of Love and Prayer in San Francisco, the first Jewish commune.

His empathetic approach toward the spiritual imports from the Far East was radical for an Orthodox rabbi,” said Ophir.

Everything Carlebach did was radical. He traveled to Germany in the 1960s to teach people whose parents had murdered scores of Jewish people that the time for peace and forgiveness had come, recalled Ben-Zion Solomon, whose home is next door to the late Carlebach’s in the central Israeli community of Moshav Mevo Modi’in, also known as the “Carlebach moshav.”

Carlebach was a scholar in his own right, studying at some of the most renowned American yeshivot. He later connected with the Lubavitch movement, whose leader at the time, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, encouraged him to go into outreach. This mandate was the start of what became his calling, serving as the rabbi of the hippie movement.

He had followers around the globe. Many young Jews returned to a Torah lifestyle as a result of their relationship with Carlebach.

His daughter Dari Carlebach said in a previous interview that her father was caught between two worlds—the religious/yeshiva world and the hippie world. She said her father had a huge desire “to love and heal the world,” and he did it with “such heart and grace and empathy.”

Shlomo Carlebach’s unbridled passion might account for why it has taken this long to begin to canonize his legacy. Solomon recounts the way that his rebbe could focus on whoever needed him at the time, that “whoever he was talking to, he became their best friend.”

Solomon and wife Dina met Carlebach in California. Carlebach encouraged Solomon to learn in Israel and eventually to make aliyah, and then handpicked his family to live on the Carlebach moshav.

Solomon recalled that when he arrived in Israel, he was told by the Orthodox-affiliated Diaspora Yeshiva that his wedding to Dina was not valid, as they did not have a ketubah, the Jewish marriage contract. He called Carlebach in a panic. The rabbi told him to get some wine and cake and meet him at the Shabbos House in Jerusalem at 1 a.m.

About the Author: www.JNS.org is an independent, non-profit business resource and wire service covering Jewish news and Israel news for Jewish media throughout the English-speaking world.


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.

One Response to “The Real and Radical Legacy of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach”

  1. A lot of us were then.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
A minaret seen towering over the Mediterranean sea, near Tel Aviv-Yafo / Jaffa. (file)
EU Receives Warning ISIS Infiltrating Among Migrants
Latest News Stories
A minaret seen towering over the Mediterranean sea, near Tel Aviv-Yafo / Jaffa. (file)

The EU is warned that terrorists infiltrating among migrants via the Mediterranean Sea.

President Rivlin hosts Iftar meal Sunday night.

“Unfortunately, there are those who seek to exploit the sanctity of Ramadan, and distort its meaning in favor of … terrorism.”

Rabbi Riskin speaking in Eftat.

In his first public comments following the tenure extension crisis, Rabbi Riskin delivered up some harsh criticism of the Chief Rabbinate.

Seder at the White House. The one without the kippa is President Obama.

  A recent meeting between National Security Council officials and the left-wing Breaking the Silence group barely made headlines but was a significant move in President Barack Obama’s agenda to justify his view that Israel is an “occupier.” It was President Obama who succeeded in removing AIPAC as the default representative of what is called […]

He wants to show everything is “business as usual,” which everyone knows is not.

The Palestinian Authority Jawwal mobile phone company is back in business in Gaza after Hamas allowed it to resume operations following last week’s forced shutdown. Hamas claimed that Jawwal, part of the Paltel conglomerate run b one of Mahmoud Abbas’ closest confidantes, owed taxes. The terrorist organization did not explain why it was allowing Jawaal […]

Jordanian authorities seized 100 pounds of explosives carried by a member of an Iranian-backed group.

Police closed in on a ring of Israeli and Palestinian Authority Arabs who smuggled eggs and sold to supermarkets in urban centers in Israel. The gang raked in more than $2.5 million a year in the operation that stamped the eggs with forged approval. Police investigator Shai Kovnator noted, “The phenomenon of smuggling eggs from […]

Samsung is establishing a new startup accelerator in its development center in the Yakum industrial park between Netanya and Herzliya. The company is looking for 6-10 startups in mobile communications, information security, wearable computers, big data, cloud computing, mHealth, biometric identification, wireless charging, and autonomous vehicles. Start-ups that join the accelerator will receive a $50,000 […]

Three fires of 300 acres of forest in the Jerusalem area probably were ignited by Arabs, according to police.

Firefighters fought a large fire in Ein Yael, Jerusalem, located opposite the Biblical Zoo, and up the road from Malcha Mall.

Reporter Laura Rozen: “How many ways can I say significant progress made but important differences remain?”

CNN put the UNESCO site at the top of the list, implied Israel it to blame for its being “endangered but failed to mention Jordan’s responsibility.

In three weeks, the Fast of the 9th of Av will be on the 10th of Av.

Netanyahu falsely accused Bennett of signing a coalition agreement that returns more power to Hareidim.

US-led talks with Tehran appear to have reached a deal on sanctions relief: but what about access to Iranian nuclear sites?

More Articles from JNS News Service
An Israeli has won gold at the European Games for judo.

Sagi Muki defeated his opponent from Georgia.

New York Assemblyman Walter T. Mosley/

New York follows Indiana, Illinois and Tennessee to condemn BDS.

The course was cancelled because of lack of interest.

All you need is a few days vacation and a few thousand dollars to show the Israeli flag at the big game.

U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey arrived in Israel on Monday as the official guest of his counterpart, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot. The two military leaders will meet, along with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and other Israeli security officials, to discuss bilateral military cooperation and other common […]

The 2,600-year-old site lies just 10 miles from the regional frontline of Islamic State.

President Barack Obama on Tuesday awarded two posthumous Medals of Honor to Jewish and black World War I veterans who likely did not receive the awards due to discrimination at the time. The medals were given to Jewish Army Sergeant William Shemin and black Army Private Henry Williams. “No one who serves our country should […]

Final steps are underway for building the City of David’s “Kedem” visitor’s center in Jerusalem that will sit on top of the “Givati Parking Lot” excavation just outside of the Old City of Jerusalem’s walls. The visitor’s center will serve as an entryway to the Jerusalem Walls National Park, which includes the City of David […]

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/the-real-and-radical-legacy-of-rabbi-shlomo-carlebach/2014/09/01/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: