"Reb Shlomo, would you do a talk on God for two hours next Tuesday afternoon?" "Sure". It was around 1987 and I had the privilige and pleasure of bringing our holy rebbe to meet the kids at Machon LeMadrichim-The Institute for Youth Leaders from Abroad' in Jerusalem and talk to them about God.
It was part of their Judaism segment and as the dati rosh chavura on staff these two weeks were my programming responsibility. I invited my holy friends Rabbis Dovid Hertzberg, Z'L and David Zeller, Z'L (sigh) to teach with me and we created a wonderful program of creative learning and holy mayhem. The students were American and British youth group activists from HaShomer HaTzayir and HaBonim-Dror; intellectual, idealistic and quite a bit in their heads. Their orientation was decidedly ‘secular’.
We were blessed that Shlomo was in town at the same time and so I programmed an afternoon activity-'Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach: ON GOD'. I picked him up personally and drove him over from Nachlaot to ensure that we'd start on Machon time –a little earlier than Shlomo time. The kids had no idea who Reb Shlomo was and I didn't want them to be waiting restlessly. We were a mere 15 minutes late and the 60 or so kids were already in already in a large circle of chairs when Shlomo entered the room. We prepared a chair for him in the middle and I, anxious to start, put his guitar down beside it. Reb Shlomo however was in a different space. He first went around the circle and warmly greeting each person in the room. He did not sit down until he had “how are you, holy brother and sister”-ed everyone in the room. He then sat down and started to talk. He slowly mesmerized everyone in the room with simple deep insights each accompanied by the perfect rebbe story to illustrate what he was saying. All of course with wonderful humor. At some point, he picked up his guitar, began to strum and sing. He invited us to sing with him and slowly with some hesitance the students began to sing along. Nigun followed nigun, clapping led to dancing and in a little while, the entire room was whirling and hurtling around in circles of unrestrained joy and gladness, song and delight . By this time Reb Shlomo was standing in the middle and all of us were spinning around him. This continued for quite a while and I noticed some of the kids were crying while dancing, their souls touched in places they did not know they had. They poured themselves into singing and dancing as we tasted deeply from the garden of ecstasy. And then it suddenly ended. Shlomo had to go. The allotted time for our program was long over. I drove him to wherever he had to go next. The next morning when I arrived back at the Machon I was greeted by some of the kids, still shocked at themselves by how deeply they were touched. “Who was that guy? How did he do that!?” ---------------------------------