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October 9, 2015 / 26 Tishri, 5776
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The Whole Wide World Is Waiting


Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach – Life, Mission, and Legacy; By Dr. Natan Ophir (Offenbacher); Urim Publications


   Books have been written outlining the life of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach and transcribing his deep, moving, and inspiring stories and inter-song comments that he wove skillfully and almost magically into his concerts, but until now no one has attempted to reconstruct the full story of this creative and constructive genius whose equal has yet to emerge and may never be born.

Rabbi Dr. Natan Ophir (Offenbacher) has just written a blockbuster magnum opus about Reb Shlomo that is sweeping in scope and destined to become the definitive biography of a unique personality whose influence on Jewish prayer as expressed musically may be more far-reaching than that of anyone since King David.

Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach popularized excerpts from the prayer book and from the Bible through his captivating and mesmerizing melodies. He inspired a “Nusach Carlebach,” forming the basis of minyanim bearing his name and perpetuating his unique approach to prayer in virtually every meridian of the globe where Jews gather to share their common destinies.

This biography eclipses prior books about Carlebach in terms of comprehensiveness and the placement of each individual event and anecdote in historical and cultural context, with intriguing lists, such as the names of each song Reb Shlomo composed, its English and Hebrew title, its source, and where it can be downloaded and heard on the Internet. This book provides an unprecedented systematic reference and resource guide to Reb Shlomo’s life, influence, songs, and concerts.

It would be an understatement to say that Reb Shlomo was controversial in his lifetime and remains controversial posthumously. This biography deals with the criticism as well as the praise, putting it all in perspective. The difference between most of Carlebach’s critics – and there are many – and his most thorough biographer – who is unique – is that Rabbi Ophir has the documentation to place everything in perspective, and openly shares it with his readers.

This reader’s only criticisms of the book are that its publicity understates its many features by noting that the book has an index. It actually has multiple indices, of songs he composed, and of other categories of fascinating information. The book ends.

Like Reb Shlomo’s music, which continues to ring in people’s ears long after they put down his recordings, the reader wishes the book would never end, and the rabbi’s music would never stop. Actually, his legacy lives on, as described above, and in the book, and by means of the book, and his music is probably being sung, played, and hummed every moment of every day somewhere in the world.

Even the people who knew Reb Shlomo best learned a lot about him from this book that they did not know before. Imagine how much new information about such an exciting, spontaneous, and holy personality the average reader can absorb and savor.

About the Author: Rabbi Aaron I. Reichel, Esq., reviewed the definitive biography of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach by Rabbi Dr. Natan Ophir before and after it was published, long after he’d interacted with Rabbi Carlebach on a number of occasions, as described in that book. Reichel is the author of “The Maverick Rabbi,” about Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein, but Reichel readily concedes that Carlebach was far more of a maverick in his time.

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5 Responses to “The Whole Wide World Is Waiting”

  1. Well it certainly NOT 'definitive.' I was interviewed multiple times by the author and unfortunately, got it wrong. He simply couldn't 'har' what I was telling him. Had he recorded the interview and simply published what I said, it might be a 'good' book. But he simply didn't 'get' Shlomo. I still am flabbergasted that a person could spend so much time asking questions, receiving the answers and publish something so different. Chas v'Shalom the rest of the book could be so filled with errors such as these. As Reb Shlomo so often said, "Nu? What can you do?"

  2. Natan Ophir says:

    Dear Moishe, Have you read the book? Please look inside and see how you were quoted and whatever corrections you find to be necessary please send me for the 2nd edition.
    Now is the time for people like yourself to come forth and print your full story in your own words. You have told so many wonderful and enriching tales about Reb Shlomo, why not publish them?
    Over 225 people who knew Reb Shlomo were interviewed for the book, but there are many more whose stories could have been recorded because Shlomo interacted with thousands. A selection of a few interview videos can be seen at http://carlebachbook.comhttp://carlebachbook.com/page4.html

  3. Hashir Ginsberg says:

    As a longtime friend of Reb Shlomo and his Chevra, a musician who was privileged to play with him in many concerts and events and was a Board member of the Carlebach Shul who also was interviewed fir this book I want to commend the author for his painstaking and successful effort to reseaech and accurately tell Reb Shlomo’s life story. I believe he succeeded and furthermore take exception to the content and the tone of Mr Geller’s criticism. Shlomo built people up, he did not tear them down. He was supportive and rarely criticized anyone’s work, their honesty or their sincere attempts to do some good in the world. Thats worth remembering even today.

  4. Karen Blake says:

    Natans book about Shlomo was wonderful, accurate, interesting
    Shlomo and I were "extremely close"

  5. Joy Krauthammer says:

    Countless times, author Natan contacted me for futher CLARIFICATION of data and many events that I might be familiar with so he could be accurate with this biography. I'm grateful to be included along with so many teachers, musicians, and chevre in this masterful beautiful bio of Reb Shlomo, z'l. I love reading Natan's book.

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Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/books/book-reviews/the-whole-wide-world-is-waiting/2013/11/21/

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