Reb Shlomo - a Soul Doctor in our time
Souldoctorstories.com – a story that never ends
On the occasion of Reb Shlomo Carlebach 25th Yahrzeit, I want to share why I was I was and I am inspired to set up Souldoctorstories.com
What is a story that never ends?
Put simply - our actions have consequences.
Our good deeds have an effect that is beyond time.
Our kind words can change a person that can affect generations after generations.
What is a story?
A story touches our imagination. It touches our insides. It is an inspiration. It can be a life changing event. It takes you to another place or time. A powerful story has the power to transform.
One of the most powerful story tellers of the last century was Reb Shlomo Carlebach. The website blog will take your on a journey. There will be blogs about the powerful stories that never end, about the growing influence of the use of Music to connect People to their souls.
This phenomenon was started and inspired by the Dancing Rabbi – Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. However, as we will see Reb Shlomo as he was known to followers was more than just a singing or dancing Rabbi.
Reb Shlomo himself became the story that that never ends.
Reb Shlomo used stories as a way to inspire and connect people with their souls. Reb Shlomo, not only told over stories, but he became the master of the never ending story. He became part of our story.
The Broadway Show the Soul Doctor takes us on an odyssey through the triumphs of a cultural phenomenon, - Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. His music inspired millions of people around the world.
So let’s go and inspire the world with our never ending stories.
What is the power of this Music?
Shlomo Carlebach’s Legacy is uniting the Jewish people more & more every year — through his Torahs and melodies, through prayer and action. This UNITY and his message of Ahavat Yisrael – unconditional love of every Jew and Person is needed more than ever today.
The whole world is singing Shlomo melodies – Shlomo’s melodies are everywhere – at the Kotel, on Erev Shabbat at shuls all around the a world, at Simchas, Weddings anywhere where Jews are trying to closer to Hashem through Music..
For a view of this , please have at look at this tribute by a Conservative Temple in the US https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z26mmOkm-TQ#t=187
But to a lot of people – these is just inspirational Music…They do not know there is another world to Shlomo – that is his Torah, his message of the deeper connections to Shabbat, Prayer , closeness to Hashem, his love for every Jew, Jerusalem, Israel & the holy soldier . The list is endless. He was passionate about so many important issues.
So what was unique about Reb Shlomo Carlebach? Reb Shlomo was a Gate Opener.
Gates – Shlomo opened many gates, and even now his music, Torahs, teachings and stories are still opening many gates. Gates allow people to either come in or leave. Shlomo opened so many gates to so many people and these gates are still being opened through the use of methods of outreach, Music, Stories and more.
A short story. At a recent OU Pre Yom Kippur Event in Jerusalem, Rabbi David Aaron related that he had a dream. He dreamt that he would get the two greatest leaders of Baal Teshuva Movement Rabbi Noach Weinberg, founder of Aish HaTorah and Reb Shlomo Carlebach to work together to inspire the world. In his dream, Reb Noach said sure, but Reb Shlomo declined saying that his approach was too different. Reb Noach’s approach was one of logic and proofs for example the Discovery course, while Reb Shlomo was the Torah of the heart. Rabbi David Aaron continued and saying that Reb Shlomo’s message was not that we believe in Hashem, but we do not realise that Hashem believes in me. The challenge today is that we do not believe that Hashem loves us and wants us to the best person, best Jew we could be.
And that is the message of so needed today , like on Hoshana Raba, the lowly Aravot, the Jew who is still not sure of himself or his Judaism or the world . It is with Reb Shlomo Nachas Pride and Hakarat Tov to Reb Shlomo, that so many organisations and events follow his approach. For, example, Aish HaTorah invites Rav Shlomo Katz at annually Lead a Kumzists at Aish HaTorah in Jerusalem on Hashona Raba, or the popularity of the Carlebach Slichot, Hallel and Kabbalat Shabbat (just to name a few). To see some of these go to; https://www.facebook.com/CarlebachCenter/
Other obvious examples: bringing in Shabbat with joy, Love of Israel and Jerusalem, love of the Jewish people – the list goes on. Another is the use of guitars in Jewish services and events which are used across the spectrum of Jewish observance to inspire Jews worldwide.
So, what are these Gates
The Gate of Jewish Music – Shlomo’s music is so much part of mainstream Jewish music that is impossible to identify it. In fact, when enquiries we made about collecting royalties, his melodies were identified as National Music, as a National Treasure. From Am Yisrael Chai, to Holocaust Memorials, from Weddings to Kumsitz – communal singing.
The Gateway to Jewish Education & inspiration – Shlomo opened a new spiritual path that combines Judaism with its spiritual and creative side. As a result, we have three generations of teachers leading this. These soul doctors include environmentalists, artists, and musicians combining their talents with Torah & Jewish mysticism. Other examples include Yeshivat Simchat Shlomo in Jerusalem, The House of Love and Prayer in Safed (and Tel Aviv), or the numerous Carlebach Friday night services which are havens for those seeking a closer connection to God through Judaism.
The Gate of Jewish caring - social awareness - enhancing the rights of woman. There is so much to write about here. Shlomo opened so many gates here.
Some words which inspired the name of the website.
The show the Soul Doctor was performed in Jerusalem during the Summer of 2018. It is based on the life of the colourful dancing Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. Is it a Broadway based musical. In fact it is the first real Broadway show to appear in Israel. While there has been attempt to keep Reb Shlomo's message of inclusiveness intact, there are certain scenes or emphasis that is different.
Reb Shlomo was a very unique and his message spoke to Jews across the very wide Jewish world from Hassidim , Hareidi, National Religious to Reform, Reconstructionist and New Age Judaism. I bet a lot of you are wondering what are these streams of Judaism. You will be surprised that many of its leaders and let us say people in each of these groups consider Reb Shlomo as his Rebbe. Was he a Rebbe ? Many people just think that he was a musician.
He was much more . The Soul Doctor tries to depict his life journey and deeper message. That by itself is enough reason to go through to the Show.
What gave me Goosebumps is recently watched a very moving Movie documentary - OD Avinu Chai on Reb Shlomo (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EL8N3grm7fw&feature=youtu.be) and in it features musicians, Former Chief Rabbi - Rav Israel Lau and Shlomo wife Neila who quoting Shlomo she says - Shlomo described himself a Doctor of Souls. Wow.
Before, launching into why the title Soul Doctor is appropriate, I think it is important to understand the environment in which Shlomo found himself
In Israel, there a lot of bus stops where people leave old books. I picked a book from 1967 of the Rabbinical Council of America. While glancing at one of the articles which are Rabbi’s Sermons’ I came across the following : “Modern Diaspora Jews are banal, devitalized, living without joy, without faith, without ecstasy, a spiritually decentralized mass moving further and further away from the mountain.” On another page, it asks can such faith be taught?
This is the backdrop of the times that the Dancing Rabbi – Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach when started his life work and mission . Reb Shlomo as he was known to followers was more than just a singing or dancing Rabbi. To take a phrase out the Broadway show the Soul Doctor depicting his life story and message. He was a soul doctor. On reflection, this name soul doctor is much deeper than just the dancing rabbi. Reb Shlomo was a fixer of souls. He used music as way to inspire and connect people
This Article will highlight certain landmarks / Symbols that will give background generation of Soul Doctors that were inspired by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach.
So we do we start writing and talking about Reb Shlomo
I thought I would share a few ‘trends happening in the “Shlomo” world today. Today – there is very much a growing grass roots explosion in the interest in Reb Shlomo’s Teachings and music.
While I do not want to put this into Labels – the fastest growing sector is that the Chareidi Sector. There are for example minyanim on Bnei Brak and Betar on Shabbat , Musical Hallel’s and more.
There are what app’s Groups – the 2 main ones being in Hebrew
Carlebach Neto – which has about 50-100 whatsup a day (best to mute this and read this at your leisure) dealing with the Shlomo Archive collected , sorted by trusted followers of Reb Shlomo where discussions are raised about specific events such as Berkley Music Festival, Reb Shlomo Relationship with Rabbi Aaharon Kottler, niggumim , interesting photos and more
Iruye Carlebach (need to put into Hebrew) – deals with Concerts, Kumsists, Minyanim and other gatherings
There is an English Group called NIshmat Reb Shlomo which is not as active but is combination of the two.
I am a blogest on Time of Israel, where I write periodically some of Reb Shlomo Teachings and Events.
Below is a blog that I wrote
Many People say – I am only ‘Jewish’ because of Reb Shlomo. I believe that Reb Shlomo opened the gates for us to uplifting meaningful Jewish Prayer and hence the widespread use of his music when Shuls want to host an inspiring service or the use of guitars in Kumzists around the world.
Reb Shlomo Carlebach ztz”l, would refer to this month as Ram Cheshvan – “Elevated Cheshvan” – (Ram and Mar are spelled the same, but with the letters reversed) as per the B’nei Yissaschar’s teaching. What’s so elevated about Cheshvan? It is still a month without holidays after all. The idea is that with the insight, the inspiration, the teshuva, the spirituality and so much more that we worked on and cultivated during Tishrei, we are now in a strong and elevated place where we can generate the connection and holiness from down here. We can make it a time of happiness and celebration on our own now.
No wonder our Reb Shlomo’s Yahrzeit is in this month (on the 16th of Cheshvan). He makes sure to remind us every year of the renewed ability we have to elevate ourselves and connect to Hashem and each other, and cause the blessings to rain down on us .
Remembering ´Reb Shlomo´ and Healing the Nation
By way of Nostalgia, I thought I would include an article that appeared 2005 in https://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/93416
This still happens every year .
Thousands of people packed Jerusalem’s National Convention Center Saturday night to remember Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, giving over his melodies together with his Torah lessons.
The yearly concert has always been a gathering point for the students of the late rabbi, who come from all walks of life and know their beloved teacher as simply “Shlomo.” The first such concert was held for Reb Shlomo’s shloshim - the memorial thirty days after his passing – at Jerusalem’s Heichal Shlomo hall. From then on, it was held on Shlomo’s birthday for a few years. Emphasis began to shift to the yahrzeit (anniversary of his passing) as spontaneous musical prayer-filled pilgrimages to the rabbi’s Har HaMenuchot grave became a yearly occurrence and the concert took place first at the Yeshurun Synagogue – and then outgrew the venue in favour of Binyanei HaUmah - the largest hall in Jerusalem.
Memorial events are also held in New York, where Reb Shlomo’s synagogue – which he inherited from his father, Rabbi Naftali Carlebach - is located, but the Jerusalem concert is where the part of the rabbi’s legacy that led him to move to Israel and found Moshav Meor Modi’in is most apparent. The concert showcases the living nature of the rabbi’s teachings, which continue to move forward, develop, and affect the Jewish people and bring them home to Israel – “to the Land of their soul,” as one English mainstay melody played at the annual concert terms it.
“So many people are living in Israel because of Shlomo,” said Yehuda Katz, the musical director of the concert and redemption rock-band Reva L’Sheva front-man. “I know that I am one of them.”
Katz said that he recently heard “an awesome Torah (teaching)” from a student of the Vilna Gaon. “When one returns to the Land of Israel they must sing. Song is what is going to bring achdut (unity) to the Land of Israel.”
A video clip of Shlomo performing for an audience soon after the Six Day War on Israeli television was shown between performers at the concert. The tone and instructive nature of the video set the stage for an emotional evening – one many audience members described as being a very healing experience following the trauma of the summer’s Gaza and northern Shomron expulsion. “Believing in the coming of the Messiah is a belief of every Jew, the Rambam says,” Shlomo said, “but what does that really mean? I’ll tell you. According to our holy rabbis, it means that one must believe with complete faith that the nation of Israel has the ability to bring the messiah and the redemption.”
This year’s concert, in particular, embodied the sort of radical unity that Shlomo’s melodies continue to bring about.
Hundreds of young people, many still wearing orange ribbons tied to their wrists and bags - battle-worn from opposing the eviction of Jews from parts of the Land of Israel, sang their hearts out for shalom - peace – a concept and word that the Israeli political lexicon has assigned to a left-wing political viewpoint, but which remains a desire across political lines.
Haredi-religious performers and audience members, some of whom were openly hostile to Reb Shlomo during his lifetime for his stance on women’s issues and outreach, paid homage to the late rabbi in a way that left some former students of Shlomo’s with mixed feelings, while others saw it as a continuation of the humble rabbi’s way.
Rabbi Yoel Rackovsky of the Old City’s Netiv Aryeh yeshiva recalls walking to a wedding on Mt. Zion with Reb Shlomo and witnessing a teacher of his approach Shlomo and scream at him, saying that he was despicable and that everything he did was wrong. “Reb Shlomo just stood there patiently listening, and when the rabbi stormed off, he went back to talking with us like nothing happened.” Rackovsky added that he later approached Reb Shlomo, asking him what he was thinking about while he was being verbally accosted. “He told me, ‘I was just thanking the Holy One Blessed be He that I was not in his shoes - that I was not that angry at another Jew.’” Rackovsky relates.
Another hallmark of the concert is the performance of rare songs from among Shlomo Carlebach’s thousands of compositions – launching them once again into the public consciousness. From there, such melodies – some that exist on only one audio tape or that were sung only once on someone’s wedding video - enter the roster of tunes used to sing the Psalms at the Friday evening Shlomo-minyans, attended by young and old alike in nearly every town in Israel.
One such song at this year’s concert was Utzu Eitza V’Tufar (“They will plot and nothing will come of it…because G-d is with us”). “It is a song some people know, but which I think has been lost and it was an honour to bring it out,” said Katz, whose band, Reva L’Sheva performed the song and recorded it on their recent album. “I know it was a theme song for a lot of people during the Disengagement. We just happened to record it before that. I think that if we want everyone to come together it has to be under the banner of G-d.”
Another song, a tune, called “Niggun Neshama,” (Soul Melody) was already being sung by the audience when its performer took the stage. The tune was rediscovered by Carlebach's daughter Neshama, who found the song while listening to an old audio tape from a class Shlomo gave in 1985. Shlomo Katz, who has performed the song across Israel, sometimes for a half-hour strait or more, is a student of Reb Shlomo who never knew him during his lifetime.
After playing several other tunes, before launching into “the niggun,” Katz said: “Physically the higher you fly, the further you are from every person – but spiritually, the higher you fly, the closer you are to every person. It’s such a gift from G-d that such a soul was given to us after the Holocaust - to open our hearts again and to wipe away all our anger and tears.” He then offered a prayer that the tune act as a prayer for G-d to once again send such goodness and inspiration to the world, “because we can’t continue like this.”
He then launched into the melody, which is unique in that the energetic high-part is perfectly in harmony with the introductory low-part – allowing for harmony among those singing different tunes. It will be available on Katz’s upcoming album, to be released on Chanukah.
Other performers included Ahron and Yonatan Razhel, the Witt Family, Chaim Dovid Saracek, Naftali Abramson and Josh Laufer – who, together with his students from the Neve Michael youth village, performed a hip-hop version of a Shlomo classic.
Organizers of the annual event are calling upon the Jerusalem Municipality, which sponsors many cultural events throughout the year, to pitch in to recognize the connection between Reb Shlomo and the holy city.
“Shlomo was the great suspension bridge between various communities within our country and indeed the world,” said Shlomo Carlebach Foundation founder Joe Schonwald. “Shlomo criss-crossed the globe bringing the message of Jerusalem to everybody. He did more for Jerusalem and Aliyah than a lot of other organizations that have that in their mission statement and receive funding from the State of Israel and the Jerusalem Municipality. The city has three cultural departments: religious, secular and Haredi. It is a shame that the three never meet and it is high time to recognize Shlomo’s legacy of contribution to Jerusalem’s culture through unity and diversity.”
Schonwald attributes the emotionally-charged nature of this year’s concert to the political events of the past year. “We are so hungry for a spiritually-charged event beyond all politics and beyond slogans - something that transcends the usual denominational lines,” he said. “This was it - people from various walks of life where all there and it could be felt.”
Schonwald also added that each year more and more of Shlomo’s contributions to Jewish life are recognized. “We are talking about someone who probably hugged more people than King David. I have seen Carlebach concerts by Sephardi performers, secular performers, Haredi-religious performers - at the reception for the Pope when he visited New York they played Shlomo’s Lema’an Achai V’Reyai (“Because of my Brothers and Friends”).
“We owe the renewal of Jewish prayer and worship to the liturgy that Shlomo wrote. He was the singing rabbi, but he was also the father of Jewish music. Before that we had songs that came out of our European or geographic experiences, but that wasn’t Jewish music per se. Shlomo invented Jewish music for our generation.”
Let’s fast forward to 2017
Rabbi Joe Schonwald will present the new book he's put together about Reb Shlomo Carlebach, a”h, the great “Singing Rabbi” of our times, in conversation with Olam Qatan’s Yaqub ibn Yusuf. The book presents some 25 different essays, each one revealing a different perspective on Reb Shlomo’s “Torah" -- the substance of his teaching, its political/historical and personal/mystical dimensions, his musical contributions, even some poems that he inspired. It presents Shlomo in dialogue with Rabbi Mickey Rosen a”h, and with Prof. Moshe Idel, and offers a liberal sampling of Shlomo’s teachings and stories... carrying a message of universal love from the traditional Jewish world to "the whole wide world". It’s an ideal book for people new to Shlomo Carlebach and his music, who may be wondering, “What’s all this about?” as well as for old-time members of the Shlomo ‘chevra’ who may still be wondering, “What’s all this about?”
What do we know? And what do I know? These are the rhetorical questions frequently posed by the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach (1925-1994) to express his awareness of the mystery at the heart of creation. They were at the same time an expression of his abiding faith in God's goodness and the divine Providence that underlies all life. Many aspects of the famed Torah scholar, teacher, singer, composer, musician, and storyteller are discussed, analyzed, reflected upon, and praised by over 32 contributors to this compendium of essays, teachings, stories, and poems. It includes extensive selections from transcripts of Reb Shlomo's appearances in venues around the world, complemented by a generous sampling of photographs by Joan Roth and several others. Rabbi Joe Schonwald, working closely with poet and editor Reuven Goldfarb, has drawn upon the resources of Reb Shlomo's many students and friends to assemble this tribute volume, in order to clarify and amplify Shlomo's profound contribution to Jewish spiritual awareness and growth.
So where did at begin?
Shlomo Carlebach was descended from old rabbinical dynasties in pre-Holocaust Germany. The Carlebach family is a notable Jewish family originally from Germany that now lives all over the world. He was born in 1925 in Berlin, where his father, Rabbi Hartwig Naftali Carlebach (1889–1967), was an Orthodox rabbi.He had a twin brother, Rabbi Eli Chaim Carlebach. His family left Germany in 1931 and lived in Baden bei Wien, Austria and by 1933 in Switzerland. Carlebach emigrated to Lithuania in 1938 where he studied at a yeshiva. In 1938 his father became the rabbi of Congregation Kehilath Jacob, a small synagogue on West 79th Street in New York City's Upper West Side
His aptitude for Torah study was recognized by great Torah scholars and teachers, among them Rabbi Shlomo Heiman, and the Rosh Yeshiva of Bais Medrash Gevoha, Rabbi Aharon Kotler.
He was considered one of the top students of Rabbi Kotler. Rabbi Yitzchok Hutner, who gave Reb Shlomo Semikha, considered it a loss to the Torah world that he chose a career in musical Jewish outreach over one as a scholar and teacher.
During his yeshiva studies he was often asked to lead the services as a chazzan. Reb Shlomo became a disciple of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, the sixth Rebbe of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement.
From 1951-1954, he worked as one of the first emissaries (shluchim) of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe who urged him to use his special skills and go to college campuses to reconnect Jews to Judaism
This was the start of his lifelong mission of bringing back thousands of Jews to a deeper sense of connection to the Heritage.
He used his strong base of Torah and merged with the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov – Ahavat Yisrael. He synthesis the different Torah streams of Lithuanian Torah, Chassidic passion, Rav Nachman’s Emuna and Rav Kook love and belief in the people of Israel into one beautiful tapestry and song.
For those who have dug deeper – may have discovered his Art of the Story Telling, His Torah, His deep love of every Jew no matter how far one has strayed...
A will show a few examples and stories of the impact that he has in these current day Soul Doctors.
This one is related by Rabbi Itzchak Marmorstein (Even Shays) who is a passionate student of the teachings of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook (1865- 1935) and is doing pioneering work in bringing Rav Kook to the public through classes, lectures and creative musical and dramatic presentations. He is the gabbai at Beit HaRav Kook. There is also Carlebach Shabbat at Beit Harav Kook led by Nachman Solomon. In fact every , there is Carlebach Davening led by Nachman Solomon a second Generation Talmid of Reb Shlomo. About 2 years ago, a Shabbat Minyan was started in the historic Beit Harav Kook House , off Beit Harav Kook Street which is off Yafe Street in the centre of Town , which is a 20 minutes walk from Rechavia. Not only is the davening beautiful, but there is a sit down Kiddush following Shabbat morning prayers which start at 9am. The Minyan is developing into Kehilla where the teachings of Rav Kook are taught and the members of the Kehilla play a part in bringing this historic Shul back to vibrancy. Visitors not only get a great Davening , but can see the House and its Exhibits.
This is his story. "Who's Shlomo?" I asked... It was the early winter of 1974. I was learning Torah at Shma Israel, the cauldron whose Rabbis birthed Or Sameach and Aish HaTorah. Every Erev Shabbat, it was our great joy to walk unafraid from Geula, through Damascus Gate to the Kotel to daven. We had just finished Maariv and the French guy beside me "Let's not go back to the yeshiva right away, Shlomo is coming." "Who's Shlomo?" I asked. "You'll see, just wait here with me." "OK" At least two hours later, the Kotel area was pretty empty as everybody rushed home to eat their Shabbos meal. This French guy and I were still sitting waiting for Shlomo. And then, in the distance, from the direction of the shuk, I heard singing. I couldn't see anything but I knew that a group of people were approaching the Kotel, singing. They came downstairs into the plaza area and made a circle. In the middle of that circle was Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. Looking pretty cool, he opened a small gemorrah and starting teaching. I was touched and intrigued by his hip American Yiddish English. And then he said "Ok chevre, let's go doven." The group, me in tow, went to the centre of the Kotel beside the mechitza, everybody found their spot and Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach began to doven. By Lecha Dodi, it was clear(er) to me who Shlomo was. He became for me, at that moment, Reb Shlomo. And from that moment, he was an important and joyful part of my life. He taught so much of the Torah of the heart.
Micha Odenheimer was born in Berkley, California. He received his B.A. from Yale University, Cum Laude, in 1980. In 1984, Micha received his rabbinic ordination and was a student and close friend of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. In 1988 Micha immigrated to Israel and ever since has been working in social activism in Israeli society, and has lectured and written extensively on Judaism and social justice. A prolific journalist, Micha has reported on poverty, globalization and human rights from around the world, and written for the Washington Post, The Guardian, The London Times, The Jerusalem Report and Haaretz. In 1998, the Joint Distribution Committee granted Micha the "Boris Smolar Prize," based on his work covering Ethiopian Jewry. Micha also founded the Israeli Association for Ethiopian Jewry, which was, and remains to this day, one of the most instrumental and valued organizations dealing with the absorption of Ethiopian immigration to Israel. Micha is the founder and director of Tevel B'tzedek, created in 2007. Micha received the 2011 Klegg Prize from Hebrew University.
Micha writes “All I can say is that I had the privilege of spending at least 100 shabbatot with Reb Shlomo, many chagim, ,and hundreds and hundreds of hours hanging with him and the chevre. He was always, always! sweet, generous, humble, and respectful of men, women, Jews, non-Jews everybody. I can't tell you how many disturbed people crowded around him seeking healing. I can't begin to describe the extent of his generosity and his caring Shlomo was certainly a complex human being--although the most extraordinary one I have ever met. .Shlomo contributed so much, brought so much soul and self sacrifice to the Jewish world is can be regarded of one of the greatest Jews of the 20th century”
At the age of 14, Emuna Witt met, and stayed close to, her Rebbe, Shlomo Carlebach. She is the editor of Kol Chevre, the Carlebach journal, teaches at Simchat Shlomo in Nachlaot, Jerusalem, is one of the founders and leaders of the monthly Rosh Chodesh celebrations at the Carlebach moshav (community). Her shabbat tables are renowned for their love, inclusiveness, singing, holiness, great food, connection with any of her 14 children and 35 plus grandchildren. Her devotion to living a life of mitzvot - deeds that bring God close - is inspiring and heartwarming.
As a religious Jewish woman, Emuna is one of the prominent religious peacemakers. Her love and compassion as inspired by Reb Shlomo, are not limited to anyone or anyone group. She is qualified Torah Yoga teacher , and is a rare teacher and jewel. Just to be in her presence is a delight, a bath in chesed - loving kindness.
Emuna leads series of classes on Chassidut and Nonviolent Communication. She brought to us the teachings of the Reb Shlomo, Svat Emet, Rebbe Nachman, the Slonim Rebbe, and others, whose teachings offer an enlightened way of being in, and repairing the world.
Emuna has taken on the responsibility of Kol Chevra . wich is the annual Journal of inspirational stories In Memory of the renowned Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, zt'l, who brought hundreds of thousands of Jewish youth back to their roots with his original heart warming melodies and soul reaching teachings and close friends who recently left the world. Each year has theme , for example The theme from the22nd edition was Love and Healing; How Reb Shlomo healed the world and how we also can transform the world to a better place. A feature article is By Rabbi Sammy Intrator who takes us back in time to Reb Shlomo's trip to Poland, 27 years ago. Please travel this journey with us!! We take you to Morocco and Nepal and many places all over the planet. Kol Chevra is the Voice of the Friends who are sharing their deepest visions, hopes and dreams.
Kol Cheva is now being digitalized and some articles can be found on http://kolchevra.com/. This project is led by Miriam Drori who together with her Husband set up House of Love of Prayer in Sefad . Miriam is the daughter Eleonora and Avraham Shifrin
The song SHOMRIM was first sung by Reb Shlomo in a wedding that he performed on September 9, 1974. Avraham Shifrin, a former political prisoner of Soviet concentration camps, and together with his wife Elonora founded the Research Center for Soviet Prisons, Psychiatric Prisons and Forced-Labor Concentration Camps.
AM YISRAEL CHAI and the STRUGGLE TO LIBERATE THE JEWS OF THE SOVIET UNION
At this point , I will digress and share an article on Shlomo’s most famous song Am Yisroel Chai, This article was written by the late Jacob Birnbaum Indeed, Birnbaum was the first to recognize that not only did we have a responsibility to direct our protests against the Soviet Union, but we also had the obligation to insist that our own U.S. government do more, much more, to press the Soviets to let our people go. In the early ’60s, Birnbaum asked Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach to compose a Soviet Jewry theme song. The words go back to the biblical narrative, when Joseph, after 22 years of separation from his father, Jacob, asks his brothers “ha’od avi chai?” – “Is my father still alive?”
He writes –“ After initiating the grass-roots movement for Soviet Jewry with the creation of the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry in April 1964, I strove to generate movement songs (now assembled in "Songs of Hope for Russian Jews," originally "Songs of Protest for Russian Jews").
I was determined to get one from Shlomo Carlebach. We knew each other and our grandfathers had become acquainted in 1897 at the first Zionist Congress in Basle, Switzerland. His zaide, Rabbiner Arthur Cohn, was Rabbi in Basle and my zaide Dr. Nathan Birnbaum was elected to be the first Zionist Secretary-General.
Shlomo was constantly on the move and hard to pin down. His mother Rebbetzin Paula Carlebach was most helpful in forwarding my requests for a song "Am Yisroel Chai." The request began to resonate with him when he flew to Soviet-dominated Czechoslovakia. Later he told me that he had washed my letter, typed on "Student Struggle" stationery, down the airplane toilet in some trepidation.
He first sang the song to a group of Prague youngsters. I did not know about this at the time but had continued to press Rebbetzin Carlebach that he should have something ready for our great Jericho march of Sunday April 4, 1965. Late on Friday afternoon April 2nd, my phone rang and Shlomo's exhausted voice said, "Yankele, I've got it for you!"
Jericho Sunday dawned bright and sunny. We encircled the Soviet UN Mission on East 67th Street in New York, Jericho style, to the trumpeting of seven shofars blown seven times and marched to the UN. Shlomo was inspired and for the first time publicly sang what was to become a contemporary Jewish liberation anthem. Even Irving Spiegel, the usually kvetchy New York Times correspondent, basked in the pervasive joyful spirit of the moment.
Shlomo had added another phrase "Od Ovinu Chai" with which he climaxed the song on a high note of exaltation. He took this from the Biblical Yosef's exclamation about his father Yaakov. I would say that this was the culmination of Shlomo's first musical period, which I would call his "Neshomo" period, marking the revival of popular Jewish religious music after the destruction of the great East European reservoir of popular Jewish music during the Holocaust. I well remember the barrenness of the Jewish music scene in the post World War II years. It was Shlomo who revived the "Ovinu" consciousness in the latter 1950s.
When I brought Shlomo into the Soviet Jewry liberation movement, he entered his second musical phase -- a preoccupation with the physical rescue of the Jewish people and Israel, the "Guf" phase, one might say. After the capture of the Old City of Jerusalem in 1967, he went to the Wall and sang the new song of liberation but now in reverse order. Now he began with a high triumphant "Od Ovinu Chai" with "Am Yisroel" in second place.
This also pointed to his third phase, which I'd call his "Mikdosh" phase. He had not been well and in 1994, my wife and I went to daven Slichos with him at his shul. Avoiding his more usual sentimental discursive style, he spoke brilliantly and deeply about contemporary spiritual challenges and then the service got under way.
In his later years, young Hasidim had become enchanted with him. Many such were present and the scene became religiously electric, the davenen becoming ever more intense with his microphone-aided voice soaring ecstatically over it all. I was startled and moved and faces all around me were lit up in fervor. As we left, I said to my wife, "This was a Mikdosh experience and Shlomo's essence."
Shlomo had expanded beyond the striving for the redemption of the individual soul to the physical redemption of Am Yisroel and finally penetrated to the holy core of Jerusalem's Mikdosh.
Shortly thereafter, Shlomo passed on.
In sum, with his early neoclassic melodies, he responded to the yearnings of younger post-Holocaust generations to reach into their Jewish roots, to hold on and rebuild their Jewish identity. He was responding to something even larger than a physical Holocaust, to the pervasive thinning and disintegration of Jewish identity in recent centuries.
That is why he later responded to another of my requests, to compose a song of Jewish resistance and renaissance in the Soviet Union. I asked him for a rendering of the Psalmic "lo omus ki echyeh" -- "I will not die but live" (also to be found in "Songs of Hope for Russian Jews"). This covered my Soviet Jewry slogan "Let My People Go! Let My People Know!" "Lo omus" did not take hold in the same way as "Am Yisroel Chai", but "Let My People Know" was appropriated by a number of outreach groups.
But in his mind and heart one might say that Shlomo's greatest passion was "Let My People Rejoice!" Job cried out that "Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward!" Shlomo's preference was surely to overcome and supplant the pessimistic "born to sorrow" with an ecstatic "born to joy!"
House of Love and Prayer
The House of Love and Prayer is a synagogue where the melodies of Rabbi Carlebach fill one’s soul with joy and sweetness. Named after the popular Carlebach center in San Francisco, Tzfat's House of Love and Prayer shares the goal of giving everyone the feeling of home--even if one lives at the other end of the world.
Cultural and Spiritual Center
Established by students of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, this shul offers Carlebach’s renewed approach to one’s relationship with G-d and Judaism and focuses on building an appreciation of life and deepening bonds with our loved ones. The House of Love and Prayer is also a cultural and spiritual center with lectures, workshops, evening concerts and activities for all ages. In the summer, during Tzfat’s famous Klezmer festival, they hold a lively Carlebach festival.
Rabbi Carlebach taught that the greatest thing in this world is to do something good for someone else. As a result, the House of Love and Prayer does acts of charity in the community. The center is actively involved in rehabilitation programs for youth at risk and offers subsidized afternoon homework help for children from troubled families. The center also offers afternoon courses in guitar, violin, science and art for children who can’t pay for regular courses. They also visit ill, elderly and lonely people in Safed.
Heartfelt Prayer and Song
At the House of Love and Prayer, one can experience spiritual elevation like never before. The Kabbalat Shabbat services are filled with heartfelt singing, dancing, clapping and focused prayer to the tunes of Carlebach. Saturday prayers are very meaningful and the seudah shlishit offers touching words and insight based on the stories of Carlebach. Havdalah rocks as guitars, flutes and drums say farewell to a most fulfilling Shabbat. The synagogue makes all special occasions meaningful, creating incredible ruach for bar and bat mitzvas, brit milas and baby naming ceremonies.
To learn know more and find out about upcoming events, check out The House of Love and Prayer. http://holap.intzfat.info/en/
So lets us now look more closely a the original House of Love and Prayer existed at the nexus between Hippies, Jews, New Religious Movements, and the Countercultural Revolution in San Francisco in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Though a brief moment in San Francisco Jewish history, it illuminates the unique social, cultural, political, and religious forces that merged together to form a robust and particular Jewish expression in the Bay Area, which has continued into the twenty-first century. The House of Love and Prayer no longer exists in physical form today, however those who experienced it continue to live a Jewish life attributed to and rooted in the spirit of the House all over the world. The memories of the House of Love and Prayer continue to live on.
The House of Love and Prayer successfully redefined methods of religious worship while revitalizing Jewish spiritual connections among detached and disaffiliated Jews at a time of great crisis in Jewish and American life. It was a radical Jewish experience that sought to bring lost souls into a meaningful and spiritual Jewish life. The individuals who lived at and built the House of Love and Prayer attempted to infuse greater Jewish spirituality and tradition into everyday experiences for those Hippies who were searching for meaning, offering a uniquely Jewish alternative to the mostly secular Counterculture.
In the Beginning
In December 1949, one month before he died, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, had a brief encounter with two twenty-something Jews, Shlomo Carlebach and Zalman Schachter that would change the landscape of Jewish communities for decades. The Chabad leader had a revolutionary idea: to send out emissaries—Jewish missionaries—to college campuses across the United States to bring non-Orthodox Jews “back” to Judaism.
Starting on the campus of Brandeis University, in Waltham, MA, it wasn’t long before Carlebach and Schachter, more commonly referred to as Reb Shlomo and Reb Zalman, respectively, made their way to the San Francisco Bay Area. Though they successfully engaged large numbers of young Jews in Jewish life across the United States, in the Bay Area they found a community of individuals seeking a more spiritually rich life. Deeply influenced by the openness of the Beatnik culture of the late 1950s and early 1960s, and the Hippie Counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s, Shlomo and Zalman encountered a growing movement of people ready to experiment with alternative paths towards religious and spiritual experiences. The young Jews they encountered in San Francisco believed that the world was broken and in need of fixing, an idea similar to their own Hasidic vision of the universe. The two rabbis began visiting the Bay Area more often. They soon realized that San Francisco was the perfect place for Hasidic Jewish tradition to intersect with Hippies and the Countercultural Revolution.
The Berkeley Folk Festival
In 1966, Carlebach, who also became known as “The Singing Rabbi,” played at the Berkeley Folk Festival, where he invited the young people in attendance to join him for Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, that Friday night. With an estimated 800 people showing up to the celebration, Carlebach realized that he was able to reach young Hippies through his music, teaching, and unreserved and sociable personality. Within a short period of time, he gained a following among the Bay Area Jewish Hippies; a small group began to meet regularly for Shabbat prayers and meals at the home of Elia and Miriam Succot in the small town of Forest Knolls, approximately 25 miles north of San Francisco. Shlomo was not always there; when he was, the group was simply too big for the modest home.
Rooted in the success of these weekly gatherings, Reb Shlomo wanted to open a house in San Francisco where he could engage young Jews in a meaningful Jewish life. He dreamed of creating a place where “when you come, someone loves you; when you leave, someone misses you.” This dream became a reality in April 1968, when Aryae Coopersmith, one of Carlebach’s followers, rented (for $300/month, plus a $50 security deposit) a large two story Georgian architectural house at 347 Arguello Boulevard in San Francisco’s Richmond District. Called the House of Love and Prayer, it quickly blossomed into an important destination for Hippies and spiritual seekers who were intrigued by both the atmosphere of love prevalent in San Francisco’s Countercultural Revolution and Shlomo’s music and attractive Jewish teachings.
A small number of individuals lived in the House, tasked with running the everyday operations. In addition to these individuals, there were dozens of others who lived close by and participated in House activities regularly. Those who had professional jobs dedicated much of their income to ensure that the House could thrive as a Jewish commune.
Shabbat was the main attraction. Hundreds of people would show up each week for the celebrations. Though the House became a free hostel for Hippies, Jews, and anyone looking for a place where they would feel welcome during the week, it was over Shabbat that most stayed on site overnight.
The Second House
Inspired by Carlebach’s vision, by 1970 members of the House of Love and Prayer attempted to open a House of Love and Prayer yeshiva (seminary), to become a serious place of study and worship. Efforts were focused on raising the necessary funds for a new building to host the yeshiva. Aided by the generosity of three major donors, they were able to put a down payment on a house at 1456 9th Avenue, in San Francisco’s Sunset district. Shortly thereafter, in May 1970, they closed down the first House of Love and Prayer (in May 1970), located on Arguello Boulevard (very close to Golden Gate Park) because it no longer adequately served their needs. The new building, which was purchased in April 1971, became the House of Love and Prayer Yeshiva.
The Beginning of the End
By the mid-1970s, things started changing culturally, both in San Francisco generally and at the House of Love and Prayer specifically. The House became more traditionally Orthodox and less rooted in the joyous experiences prevalent at the first House, evidenced most prominently by the introduction of a mechitzah (a barrier used to separate men and women during prayer). By the late 1970s even Reb Shlomo began to feel alienated by the practices of those in the House, causing his visits to become even more sporadic. By this same time, many of the Hippies who were originally attracted to the Haight-Ashbury scene had moved away, a phenomenon echoed at the House.
Reb Shlomo and Reb Zalman, who was also a part-time spiritual leader of the House, officially parted ways in 1974 over ideological differences. Though they remained close friends, Schachter founded a new Jewish movement, which soon became known as Jewish Renewal. Carlebach, on the other hand, remained wholly committed to Orthodox Judaism and continued to try to get young Jews to be traditionally observant.
In 1974, Schachter’s followers started the Aquarian Minyan in Berkeley; many members of the House joined them in growing this new community. Similarly, in 1976 many of Shlomo’s disciples from the House established a village in Israel called Mevo Modiin (though its official name is Me'or Modiin), which is often referred to as the Carlebach Moshav. In fact, as early as 1969 and continuing into the early 1970s many people from the House had moved to Israel altogether, including Elia and Miriam Succot, founding members of the House. But it was the establishment of Moshav Mevo Modiin that attracted the most people to Israel; it became a Hippie Hassidic haven with Reb Shlomo’s imprint found throughout. Still others from the House moved to different parts of the San Francisco Bay Area to start families or pursue careers.
We have heard in the past about the great fire of London or Prague that destroyed most of the town.
In our age, who could even imagine a whole village being destroyed by a fire. Moshav Meor Moddiin was on Lag B Omer destroyed by a Fire
Can you imagine going out in the morning, and losing not only your house, all your possessions , heirlooms , memories , photos , diaries and in this case art, music , music instruments , studios and businesses, and village. The survivors of this fire have been left with literally the clothes they were wearing.
But this was no ordinary Moshav or ordinary people. The people here (known as “the Chevra”) are the followers of the singing Rabbi , Reb Shlomo Carlebach. They were the hippies from the House of Love of prayer who came in 1976 to this barren, unwanted land in what was then in the middle of know where.
They together with Reb Shlomo turned the Moshav into an oasis of love , music , nature , shabbat and Ahavat Yisrael from hosting Shabbat Retreats, program's , music and in the last ten years the Moshav Festival on Pesach and Sukkot. It would not be exaggeration to say that hundreds of thousands of people have attended events over the last 40 years at the Moshav , and for many this was the first or most inspired taste of a Judaism filled with Joy and Love.
Although Reb Shlomo was primally known as the Singing Rabbi, he was a powerful story teller relating Hassidic stories. I am sure that there will be many stories resulting from this tragedy, miracles , story of hope , stories of the overcoming adversity , stories of rebuilding , unity, chesed and compassion.
In any event I now going to relate my story about the Moshav which happened last week. Like all Hassidic stories , you can either choose to believe or choose to disbelieve. So, here is my story.
The Moshav has a building called the Shlomo Center which housed thousands of Reb Shlomo books and other memorobila, and my concern was the loss of this National Treasury. I thought, there would be no way that this could of have survived.
Anyway , Last Sunday, in a phone smooze with Alon Teeger, Chairman of the Carlebach Foundation and Senior Member of the Moshav Vaad - Council.
We were discussing what has happening with the Moshav. He excitedly told me that they had a got a donation , to build a proper roof over the Shul and they would be able to take the Tent cover and put it by the Shlomo Center to help entertain groups coming to the Moshav. The also got funds for a small coffee shop which would assist and welcome visitors to the Moshav.
So, after the Fire , I was sure that the Fire had destroyed both the Shul and Center. On Friday , Alon posted on What's App.
“I was on the Moshav this morning with the Moetza It looks like a war zone. Shul and Shlomo Center intact plus 5 out of 60 houses. All the rest destroyed. All residents and animals were evacuated in time.
Thousands of Reb Shlomos books saved in the center. Not sure about the other books in the Carlebach home as we weren’t permitted to enter any migrashim because of fires still burning and electrical and water infrastructure damage.”
I have no doubt that the Center and The Shul was miraclously saved. maybe in the merit of that phone Call. may be in the merit of Reb Shlomo , or the pure desire to spread Reb Shlomo’s deep teachings. As Reb Shlomo would often say. You never know. you never know.
I immediately called Alon who surprisingly answered and he related a few more anecdotes. Especially about the miracle that no one died, and that they had 10 minutes to evacuate. He kept repeating that if one person had died it would a different level of disaster.
While trying to put a positive spin, Alon who is his late 60's , told me from now he is going travel light. At least his Kids can not argue about the Candle sticks. I am sure there will be much heartbreak on the road to recovery , picking up the pieces in each person , family and the Chevra of the Moshav. The road will be bumpy. But the Moshav Chevra have Strength, Faith inspired by their Teacher Reb Shlomo.
I want to end of with a post of Facebook by Sivan Rachav Meir
Most of the homes in Moshav Mevo Modi'in ("The Moshav") were destroyed by fire yesterday. This is a community that was established by disciples of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, most of them Americans. It's a community of prayer, joy, dancing, and creativity. A place full of spirit - which went up in flames. This morning, when I opened the book "Simply Love" by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach - this is what I found:
"Rebbe Nachman of Breslov said: 'If you believe that it's possible to destroy, believe that it's possible to repair.' They say that all it takes is one idiot with a match to burn down an entire forest. In other words, the force of destruction is quick, strong, overwhelming. A single bad word or deed has the power to destroy many years of effort and hard work. But Rabbi Nachman points out: This idea is very old. The new, better way is to believe that with one good word, a single small deed or even one thought, a person can rebuild the entire world. Therefore, Rabbi Nachman uses the word 'Believe.' If a person says to his friend: 'Believe me, I just went to synagogue, and it's in exactly the same place it was yesterday' - it would sound strange. For things that are simple, things that are easy to understand, people don't need faith. In order to believe in destruction, you don't have to be a big 'believer,' that's just human nature. But believing in the power of fixing, that rebuilds - that is what we need to work at. To believe in what the mind can't easily grasp: that the power of fixing is greater, more meaningful. Most of the righteous, our tsaddikim, taught us not to burn down the forest. This is true, but Rabbi Nachman teaches us something new: You can plant forests! The power to rebuild is greater than the power of destruction. That is what faith is. "
Dedicated to the dear and believing people of Mevo Modiin
Rebuilding Mevo Modiin
Want to help? The local authority, Moetza Azorit Hevel Modiim, is working with a non-profit organization to collect funds for residents of Mevo Modiim.
Please share this message by all means and Like our Facebook Center https://www.facebook.com/CarlebachCenter where we will be posting more updates.
Carlebach Moshav Rises From the Ashes
October 28, 2019 By eJP Leave a Comment
Visitors to the Moshav Fair during Sukkot 5780. Photo by: Deborah Fineblum.By Deborah Fineblum
(JNS) The first thing you notice when you pass through the gate and into the moshav is the smell. Like a campfire that was doused with water and left to sputter. The second thing: just how many of the trees look like they’ve survived an inferno.
Because they have.
Back in May, Moshav Mevo Modi’im (aka Me’or Modi’im or just “the Moshav”) lost nearly all of its 60 homes to a fire so intense that it fried the electrical and plumbing systems. And though the investigation was inconclusive, many insiders still suspect arson.
View of burnt homes in Mevo Modi’im; photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90.
But against the odds, surrounded by a landscape of burnt-out homes and the scorched skeletons of trees, it was business as usual for the Moshav Mevo Modi’im Country Fair on Oct. 16, just like it has been every Sukkot since 2006.
Founded in 1975 by famed “singing rabbi” Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach and friends, the moshav has long been home to the “Chevra,” a clan of counterculture artists, musicians, aromatherapists, rabbis, yoga teachers and poets practicing a joyous amalgam of Chassidic Judaism in the spirit of his House of Love and Prayer in San Francisco. The rabbi, who split his time between Israel and New York, died exactly a quarter-century ago, on Oct. 21, 1994.
The intermediate days of Sukkot is a time when Israelis – both the native-born and the newest arrivals – are reborn as tourists, crisscrossing their own country as if seeing its sights for the first time. And for many, the Moshav Fair is a much-anticipated part of their holiday (as well as their Passover) travel plans.
Where else can you have your hand henna-ed, learn how to tap your way to health and happiness, and buy tie-dyed T-shirts for toddlers, painted tambourines, feathered earrings and a range of seriously spiritual books with authors primed to engage visitors in a myriad of other-worldly topics? Where else can you take in the likes of Shlomo Katz, Nuriel and the Solomon Brothers, and assorted other musical favorites while munching organic kosher foods? Not exactly your average country fair.
After the fire, with nearly everyone evacuated and scattered around the country – and only the silent army of gutted homes cordoned off with plastic sheeting standing guard – few people expected to see a fair this year.
“But the strange thing was in the center of the moshav, in the fairground filled with highly flammable trees, not a blade of grass was burnt,” says organizer Leah Sand. “Nor were any of the communal buildings. So, really, how could we not hold the fair this year?”
And some 4,500 responded, more than any previous year, says Sand. “We had splendid weather, and we never had this many people. Everyone wanted to give us support, and everyone was happy. It was like a family reunion.”
‘The Carlebach spirit will live on’
The vast majority of the folks who showed up had never met Rabbi Carlebach, though they know his music and reputation for bringing Jews together to celebrate the joys of a Torah life.
“A lot of young people relate to his spirit,” says visitor Micki Weinberg, a Los Angeles native now living in Berlin. “When you look around and see what’s happening here today, it’s obvious that this is what the Torah means when it says. ‘Choose life.’ Shlomo got it, and so do his people here … this kind of day is what that’s talking about,”
For those who have called this place home, the trauma remains fresh.
“It still seems surreal to me that my mom’s home is gone, reminding me that you can’t ever go home again,” says Miriam Leibowitz of Jerusalem on hand to sell her watercolors. “With so many people here today, it’s a lot of beauty and a lot of pain all mixed together.” One surprise: In sifting through the ruins of her mother’s home, she found a few special pieces of her grandmother’s jewelry. “With that extreme heat,” she adds, “it’s a miracle it didn’t melt.”
Another insider put it this way: “Only four months after the devastating fire, this day was not only a huge success but an important marker on the way to rebuilding the moshav,” said Rabbi Avraham Arieh Trugman, who with his wife, Rachel, were moshav founders back in 1976. “Further, it is a testament to the members’ determination to not only carry on but to forge ahead despite the daunting work that lies ahead … and just how important the moshav is for Klal Yisrael.”
“It cheered us up to have all these people here,” says Shira Shapiro, whose home was completely consumed, and who now lives in temporary housing with her two children and mother in nearby Modi’in. “All you have to do is look around you at the devastation; until today, the place has been a ghost town.” One thing that keeps up their spirits, she notes, is the “absolutely phenomenal” moral and financial support that’s poured in.
“The day was an amazing opportunity for everyone associated with the moshav and everyone who cares about it to come together, reconnect and inspire each other,” says Orah Moshe of Pardes Hanna, who’s helped Sand with various aspects of the fair over the years. “The backdrop of the burnt-out homes, the smell of the fire, they’re unavoidable reminders, but I felt so much love for the moshav here today.”
What Lilian Ritchie, another founder with her husband, Joshua, and children, says strengthens her is the things that escaped the inferno: the beautiful hand-painted synagogue and a stack of Rabbi Carlebach’s holy books that somehow survived in his family’s otherwise destroyed home. “I believe Shlomo was keeping an eye on those things,” says Ritchie. “And I’m sure he’s proud of everyone here today; he always was.”
“The Carlebach spirit will live on,” said visitor Shlomo Walfish of Ramat Beit Shemesh. “Because Shlomo’s message was love, acceptance and dedication to God, everyone here is picking that up through osmosis.”
As singer Shlomo Katz said from the stage: “If these people are able to pull off this festival and live with such determination, then the least we can do it pull ourselves up and dance and sing, and learn from them to strengthen our own lives, too.”
And, speaking of strength, if you look very carefully, you could see a few green shoots making their way through patches of charred earth.
“It won’t be easy, but I believe they’ll make a comeback here,” says Shapiro’s sister-in-law, Bracha Amster. “There’s something special about the place that makes people want to raise their kids here.”
“Don’t give up on us. We’re going to be back,” adds Shapiro. “We’re going to come home, we’re going to rebuild this place; there’s no question about it.”
A bit of History
Moshav Mevo Modiin was established in 1976 and has been involved in Jewish education and sustainable, natural living from its inception. Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach z”l was the spiritual leader of the Moshav and his teachings, music and spirit set the tone for all its educational initiatives. For nearly forty years, Mevo Modiim has been a magnet for tens of thousands of guests on Shabbat and holidays, major music festivals and country fairs. The Moshav is populated by a unique and diverse group of talented artists, musicians, writers, film makers, healers and teachers.
The Moshav will now have a permanent Visitor Centre, which is run by Elnatan Golomb, son of Michael Golomb z’l – whose vision was to have a centre that hosts a variety of musical and environmental programs. The Centre will house a library and artifacts of Reb Shlomo Carlebach and coordinate programs for groups and individuals, as well as programs of the Shlomo Carlebach Foundation.
Reb Shlomo’s music, stories and message of Ahavat Yisrael have inspired so many people across the world and his impact is still growing 21 years after his death. The Centre will run programs which hopes to which will inspire and promote; A connection to the self, one’s Jewish identity and; Exposure to a peaceful and sustainable environment and Spread the message of love and acceptance and the concept of Tikun Olam.
There will be an array of interactive programs such as: an inspiring musical experience based on the music & teachings of Reb Shlomo, , art projects, yoga, aromatherapy, healthy diet and cooking sessions, tours of the Moshav and more,
A visit to the Moshav can be made together with other nearby attractions; tour of the graves of the Maccabees, nature and meditation walks and bike rides in the Ben Shemen Forest, Neot Kedumim Park, Monkey Park and a visit to the moving Zenglembia Holocaust Memorial.
The Visitor Centre will showcase sustainable natural living and there is a plan for the construction of a sukkah and paving constructed in mud strengthened by the advances in nanotechnology derivatives adapted to traditional building systems. The sukkah will house a coffee and gift shop where local residents will be able to sell their wares and books, CD’s will also be available for sale.
It was Reb Shlomo’s dream to have a Centre of Health for the Body and Soul on the Moshav.
See Letter ..
Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach and his chevreh started Moshav Mevo Modi'im to be a home in Israel for Reb Shlomo's vision and music.
We have a Country Fair every Chol Hamoed, featuring music, Torah, health and live music. At The beginning of every Hebrew calendar month, there is a women’s gathering at Moshav Meor Modi’im.
Shlomo’s music and Teachings had 2 key Focuses – Shabbat and Jerusalem.
The Carlebach Kabbalat Shabat is an upbeat spiritual Experience and is core(‘hidden’) ingredient in the Shabbat Project which was introduced in South Africa in 2013 to quite astonishing effect. On the Shabbat over which it ran, close to 70 percent of the country’s 75,000 Jews kept Shabbat in full, most for the first time in their lives. Perhaps more significantly, the initiative drew people together in ways never seen before.
In the aftermath, many wrote in from around the world, wanting to bring the initiative to their own cities and communities. And so, the international Shabbat Project was born.
It has already been described as "an experiment that has no precedent in modern Jewish history,” and “the most ambitious Jewish unity initiative ever undertaken,” and last year 340 cities across the world and Israel participated .
The concept is simple: Jews of all walks of life, from across the spectrum – religious, secular and traditional; young and old, from all corners of the world – uniting to experience one full Shabbat together, in full accordance with Jewish law
One of the main common threads about the Shabbat Project (https://www.theshabbosproject.org) was the music. We heard the phrases Carlebach Friday night, special Havdala etc...
Across the rainbow of the Jewish world from reform to chareidi there was one main unifying factor.
This was one inspired by the special soulful melodies of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach.
It was not only the soulfoul melodies of Reb Shlomo, but also his love for Shabbat. Reb Shlomo used to sing and talk passionately about Shabbat.
Shlomo’s had a special love for Jerusalem and it is therefore no surprise that are so Many Carlebach inspired, style davening all around Jerusalem and there is Shlomo Yeshiva in Jerusalem.
Yeshivat Simchat Shlomo was founded in 2001, by Rav Sholom Brodt z”l and his wife Rebbitzen Judy, with the vision of giving over Torah and Chassidut in a style and environment inspired by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach.
Rav Brodt, or Reb Sholom as he liked to be called, was one of the sweetest, most real souls of our generation. He worked in formal and informal Jewish education for over thirty years. A master of Judaic studies teacher and storytelling, Sholom was educated at the Chabad yeshiva in Montreal, as well as other yeshivot in both Toronto and Jerusalem. A long-time student of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach zt”l, Sholom received Rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Carlebach in 1989.
Through his dearest project, Yeshivat Simchat Shlomo, Reb Sholom taught and shared Torah in a way that no other yeshiva ever has. The non-judgemental love and support with which Reb Sholom welcomed his students combined with the deep, joyful and soul-enlightening Torah that he, and others, taught made the experience of learning there truly transformative for so many people who now, together, form a widely spread but firmly interconnected world-wide community.
And for those who could not come to Jerusalem, Reb Sholom made every effort to come to communities far and wide to share sweet Torah and bring people closer to HaShem and to Am Yisrael.
Reb Sholom not only taught Torah but he and his precious Rebbetzin, Judy, opened their home to all and shared the light and warmth and joy of Judaism with anyone who was lucky enough to enter their doors, most especially at the weekly Seuda Shlishit meals on Shabbat.
Words cannot fully express his impact on the world. He was our Rebbe, our holy brother, and our true friend who gave us so much and lifted us up so high. He inspired literally thousands of people over the years. Sadly, on the 10th of Elul 5777 (Sept 1st 2017) he passed away. May Hashem escort his soul to the highest yeshiva shel ma’ala and may HaShem give us all strength to carry on the work Reb Sholom started.
Reb Sholom z”l is survived by his wife Judy, who is a doula, massage therapist, interior designer and gives Kallah classes to brides.
Chaya Lester – another Soul Doctor interviewed R’Sholom & Judy about how they made their spiritual millions. Judy – a petit female Dalai Lama – looked at me and said, “In my mother’s house they would say, ‘Were not poor we just don’t have money’. Why put a ceiling on just a million when you can plug into infinity?” – She gave me her usual loving gaze, squeezed my hand tight and said, ‘Just connecting to another person is beyond infinite…so I’m the wealthiest right now.’
Reb Sholom with his hand-rolled cigarette & twinkling eyes added a stunning string of Hassidic stories from his endless repertoire. And ka-ching, it was as if a deposit was made in my spiritual bank account right then and there. I love having spiritually wealthy neighbors!
She then goes on tell about another Nachloat family -the Steinbergs. Reb Dovid & Maayan. Two more Carlebach die-hard torch-bearers. And no shleppers either. He’s a hornist who played with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, she’s an award-winning international painter. Dovid trumpeted with Reb Shlomo for some 20 years and has a repository of Shlomo stories and teachings to prove it. “
When one talks about Nachloat – one has to mention Kol Rina the original Carlebach Minyan led by the Soul Doctor Shimon Goldwasser, My personal highlights are Evening Musical programs of Yom Ha’amatzmaut and Yom Yerusalaim.
In the Old City , there is the Chalonai Rokea Carlebach Miyan of the Old City at 3 Rechov Hamalach has a variety of Programs . This Minyan is usually meets on Chagim and a few Shabbatot when the its Founder Dr. Moshe Moshe Rothkopf is in Jerusalem. Moshe is not only a Soul Doctor but a real Dr, an ophthalmologist practicing in Lakewood. Moshe met Shlomo in 1974, played the piano with Shlomo’s band for 20 years and held leadership positions in the Carlebach Shul. There is a story in the New York Times about how they bought the House. A short Extract “ The Rothkopfs want to live on two of the upper floors and establish a "multimodality holistic healing center" on the ground floor, "with cubicles for psychologists, body workers, reflexologists, massage therapists and other medical professionals like my husband, to help you cope, to fight your stress," Mrs. Rothkopf said.”
"We had been looking for two years before we found this one," said Mrs. Rothkopf, a woman of great enthusiasm who speaks with a slight accent from her native South Korea.
And of course, Reb Shlomo helped Moshe Rothkopf in the conversion process of his wife-to-be Zipporah. Reb Shlomo officiated at Moshe Rothkopf’s wedding at West Side Institutional Synagogue April 4, 1982 together with Rabbis Efraim Buchwald and Meir Fund. The newlyweds celebrated their Sheva Berachot at Reb Shlomo’s Pesach seder on April 7, 1982.
Od Avina Hai
This movie, entitled "Od Avinu Hai", was produced by Shaul Mayzlish and first shown on Feb. 16, 2015, at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque. Since then, it has been aired in many places.
Shaul Mayzlish grew up in Petah Tikva. After studying at Yeshivat Nehalim, he served in the IDF as a war correspondent. He was a writer for the newspaper Hatzofeh and a reporter on several Jewish religious programs on television. He was the first director of the religious radio station Kol Chai, and currently serves as a co-host on Army Radio.
Those interviewed (in order of appearance): Hanan Yovel, Neila Carlebach, Dov Elbaum, Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau, Eleonara Shifrin, Yitzhak Zonneshtein, Rabbi Uzi Schwietze, Ben Tzion Solomon, Dr. Avi Becker, Dr. Yosi Hayut, Ehud Banai, Elazar Sturm, Yehuda Wasserman, Leah and Michael Golomb, Nedara Carlebach
This Movie showcases Reb Shlomo broad impact
Comparing the Educational Strategies of the Ba’al Shem Tov and Reb Shlomo Carlebach (An excerpt from the book “What Do We Know” an anthology compiled by Rabbi Joseph Schonwald, by Rabbi Arieh Trugman)
In this brief article I will compare the essential teachings and educational philosophy of the Ba’al Shem Tov (1698–1760) to those of Reb Shlomo Carlebach (1925–1994). Although they were born 227 years apart, the spirit of their respective generations, their life missions, and the specific strategies they used to impart their messages reveal uncanny resemblances.
The Ba’al Shem Tov is universally acclaimed as the inspirational figure whose teachings launched the Chasidic movement. Although he never committed his fundamental teachings to writing nor left an organizational paradigm upon which to build a movement, the charismatic force of his living example was enough to ignite the enthusiasm of his closest students. They subsequently spread his teachings far and wide, creating one of the most successful movements in Jewish history.
Although some might claim that the Ba’al Shem Tov was guided by pure inspiration and spontaneous religious fervor, he undoubtedly developed a firm set of beliefs and was, in fact, quite deliberate about the message he wanted to impart to his students and to his wider audience. Not only was his message unique but the means by which he imparted his teachings were too; in fact, they were part of his message. The very same can be said about Reb Shlomo. Both the Ba’al Shem Tov and Reb Shlomo’s “educational philosophy,” in fact, determined the parameters of their lives’ work.
The Ba’al Shem Tov was born into a dispirited Jewish world that was about to be shaken by the forces of modernity. He was born approximately thirty years after the debacle of the false messiah Shabbetai Zevi and fifty years after the massacres perpetrated by Chmielnicki and his Cossack armies. Both these events, coming at the end of nearly 1700 years of exile, left the Jewish people distraught, discouraged, and drained of hope for the future. The Ba’al Shem Tov gave the Jewish people hope and strengthened them to withstand the sweeping changes about to occur.
The Industrial Revolution began in approximately 1760, the year the Ba’al Shem Tov died, and the American and French Revolutions followed soon after. In addition to the monumental changes these revolutions wrought, the winds of the Enlightenment began to challenge basic Jewish beliefs in Europe. Within a relatively brief time, both the world at large and the Jewish world changed almost beyond recognition. The Ba’al Shem Tov’s teachings prophetically intuited these events and were geared to address this rapidly changing world order, as he clearly believed that he had come to inspire and rejuvenate the Jewish people at a crucial point in history.
Reb Shlomo also seems to have been born into a similarly dispirited and chaotic world and followed a similar philosophical path, which has led him, as it did the Ba’al Shem Tov, to ever-increasing posthumous greatness. Reb Shlomo came of age during and following the Holocaust, which left the Jewish people decimated numerically and traumatized psychologically and philosophically. Assimilation, intermarriage, and Jewish illiteracy grew by unparalleled leaps and bounds among the remaining Jews, while cultural and political upheavals shook the world. The changes occurring over the twentieth century left the Jewish world reeling and confused, seeming to have lost its direction and having no notion of how to stem the rising tide of assimilation. Reb Shlomo, like the Ba’al Shem Tov, clearly responded to the disastrous developments in Jewish life, crafting his worldview and message to the analogous realities of his time. Like the Ba’al Shem Tov, Reb Shlomo left no writings or directions for how his followers should proceed without him, but they took up the torch and have very successfully spread his Torah. The one poignant difference between the Ba’al Shem Tov and Reb Shlomo’s eras was the rebirth of the State of Israel in 1948, which for the Jewish people provided a true glimmer of hope in a sea of darkness.
I will now summarize the Ba’al Shem Tov’s cardinal teachings, which reveal his educational strategy, and demonstrate how Reb Shlomo adopted these same ideas and a similar approach to impart his message. Due to the brevity of this article, only an overview of these ideas can be provided. An entire book would be needed to do them justice.
The most important document in our possession from the Ba’al Shem Tov is the letter he wrote to his brother-in-law Rabbi Gershon of Kitov describing a mystical elevation of his soul. During this elevation, the Ba’al Shem Tov’s soul was in contact with the soul of the Mashiach. In response to the Ba’al Shem Tov’s question as to when he would come, the Mashiach replied: “When your teaching will become public and revealed in the world and your wellsprings [of Torah wisdom] burst forth to the farthest reaches….” In other words, the Mashiach conditioned his arrival on the Ba’al Shem Tov disseminating his innovative interpretations of the Torah and his educational initiatives throughout the world. The Ba’al Shem Tov, aware of this mission, trained a small cadre of Torah scholars by personal example so that this objective was ultimately reached.
Reb Shlomo, following in the Ba’al Shem Tov’s footsteps, was also driven to spread the inner light of Torah to the farthest reaches of the globe. Thus he traveled around the world nearly non-stop for forty years bringing the joy, depth, and relevance of Judaism to communities everywhere. Like the Ba’al Shem Tov, Reb Shlomo also inspired scores of talented and learned individuals by his personal example. These men and women carried out his mission, both during his lifetime and after his passing.
It is no surprise that the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, who first sent Reb Shlomo out to college campuses in the 1950s was likewise inspired by the Ba’al Shem Tov’s mission of disseminating the wellsprings of Torah to the farthest reaches of the globe. (In fact, the Chabad movement and its thousands of dedicated emissaries serving Jewish communities all over the world can only be understood in terms of the Ba’al Shem Tov’s mission.)
The Ba’al Shem Tov famously used stories as a means of imparting the very depths of Kabbalistic wisdom, and he did so in a manner that everyone could understand. Just as Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, known as the Arizal, had probed the depths of the Zohar and revolutionized its study by revealing its true inner meaning, the Ba’al Shem Tov took the teachings of the Arizal and revolutionized their study by presenting them in new and simpler language. In a revolutionary move, he opened the door of Kabbalistic wisdom to the masses for the first time and infused every word of Torah with deep contemporary meaning that was relevant to each and every person.
Reb Shomo continued this Chasidic tradition of storytelling during his countless concerts and in his many teachings, crafting a laid-back yet heart-opening language that combined Yiddish parlance with the hip language and style of the 1960s. He infused the words he fashioned with deep Torah insight so that all who heard him, no matter how connected to or estranged from their Jewish roots, felt he was speaking directly to them, to their hearts, to their inner souls.
When the Ba’al Shem Tov was five years old, his father, on his death bed, instructed him to follow two imperatives: to fear nothing other than God and to love each and every Jew with his whole heart. He followed these instructions meticulously and forged ahead despite great opposition, creating a new path in the service of God and a refreshing worldview based on rectifying Creation. He reached out to the downcast masses as no one else had before and treated each person, especially the “simple” Jew, with the utmost respect and love.
This love lead the Ba’al Shem Tov to formulate one of his most important teachings: the soul is “an actual part of God above.” Not only is man created in the image of God but according to this fundamental Chasidic teaching the soul is an actual part of God. Therefore, the Torah’s commandment to love one’s neighbor as one’s self becomes the most effective way to love God.
Expanding upon this notion, Reb Shlomo used to say that while every Jew may not be holy, every Jew is the Holy of Holies. In other words, Jews may make all sorts of mistakes and act totally improperly on the outside, but they are still fundamentally connected to their inner essences, their Holy of Holies. This hidden inner essence is in fact the part of God above that dwells within. This perspective allowed both great teachers to look beyond the petty inadequacies and superficial exteriors common to all human beings and instead focus upon peoples’ inner Godly spark and treat them accordingly.
Reb Shlomo’s love of every Jew and in fact every human being was legendary. Like the Ba’al Shem Tov he thought and acted “out of the box” and brought upon himself the wrath of the religious establishment. Despite this he forged ahead inspiring his students to create the House of Love and Prayer in the 1960s in San Francisco and Moshav Meor Modiim in the 1970s in Israel. Both of these places, along with the Carlebach shul in New York City, which he inherited from his father, became platforms to draw in Jews of every persuasion and level of commitment. He used his infectious love and stirring music as a means to inspire and to touch hundreds of thousands around the world.
Reb Shomo’s decision to emphasize joy in his teachings and concerts drew directly upon the teachings of the Ba’al Shem Tov. In response to the despondent state of Jewry in his time, the Ba’al Shem Tov’s emphasis on serving God with joy and living life joyously was not only refreshing but revolutionary. Similarly, in the 1960s, following the Holocaust and under the constant threat to the young State of Israel’s continued existence, the sound of music was not exactly “in the air.” Yet, in this atmosphere of existential doubt and angst, Reb Shlomo burst onto the scene bringing with him a new spirit and a message of great hope for his generation.
Perhaps one of the greatest contributions these teachers made was teaching their students that prayer was not only an obligation but also a unique opportunity to undergo joyous, meaningful, spiritual experiences. Many of the teachings preserved by the followers of the Ba’al Shem Tov relate to his philosophy and customary practices concerning individual and communal prayer. His great grandson, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, carried these teachings about individual prayer to their logical conclusion by teaching hitbodedut (literally, lone meditation), a unique spiritual practice that combines prayer, song, meditation, introspection, and intimate dialogue with God, all taking place in the wonders of nature.
Reb Shlomo’s ever-increasing influence is perhaps most apparent in the phenomenal spread of “Carlebach davening,” quite literally all over the world, since his passing. The seeds he sowed on Shabbat during his forty years of constant travel have come to fruition as congregations everywhere have not only adopted his melodies but also have attempted to emulate the deep spirit of prayer he tried so hard to instill.
The students of the Ba’al Shem Tov used to relate that when he taught they were certain they heard the sound of the shofar blown at Sinai. Another tradition reports that when the Maggid of Mezritch, the Ba’al Shem Tov’s eventual successor, first came to see him he was initially unimpressed. In their first private meeting, the Ba’al Shem Tov asked him to learn a section of Zohar. The Maggid did so in a dry, uninspired manner. Then the Ba’al Shem Tov learned the same piece and not only did it come alive, the room filled with angels! The Maggid, who was already a great Torah scholar, realized immediately that he had found his teacher.
These two traditions exemplify how the Ba’al Shem Tov revealed Divinity as an immediate and personal experience. He did not just tell stories—he drew people into a living experience of the teachings hidden within, of the Divine.
Likewise, Reb Shlomo was a master at “creating a moment,” a deep temporal experience that would move his listeners to the cores of their very being. He did this through music, story, prayer, and learning, sometimes fusing them all into a profound moment that could change one forever. He was looking for lost, estranged souls, and he would use this method to would bring them back to their Jewish roots.
Another major element of the Ba’al Shem Tov’s educational philosophy was the importance of building community in both the spiritual and material senses. When at an early age he became head of a society of hidden tzaddikim his first “campaign” directed them to empathize with and attend to the physical hardships of their fellow Jews, most of whom lived in abject poverty and oppression. A true community could only be built on the basis of its members’ mutual caring for one another’s most basic needs. His concept of a spiritual community was one in which the members feel a true love and loyalty to one another and a sincere desire for real personal growth in the context of and in harmony with the larger community. This paradigm has successfully served a wide variety of Chassidic communities to this day. It was this spirit and orientation towards practical organization that enabled decimated Chassidic communities to rebuild after the Holocaust with a speed and to a degree that no one imagined possible.
Reb Shlomo by the sheer power of his personality created a worldwide network of like-minded people. He used to call his close followers the chevra, “the group [of friends]” a term very close linguistically and philosophically to the chevriya, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai’s intimate group of students 2000 years ago. Even though it was clear that he was the undisputed leader of the group, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai made everyone feel like they were equal, bonded together in their intimate community of spiritual seekers. Reb Shlomo also created such a feeling and would often say that even more than we need rebbes today, we need good friends.
One of the Ba’al Shem Tov’s most important, though lesser known teachings, is that each person contains within him or herself a spark of Mashiach that needs to be revealed and developed. This spark contains a person’s pure potential and leadership qualities. (Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh teaches that when enough individuals realize their own personal sparks of Mashiach, a critical mass will be achieved which will then draw the energy of the Messianic era into reality.)
This teaching was intrinsically tied in to the Ba’al Shem Tov’s overall Messianic vision. The Arizal had taught that the inevitable march to the Messianic era had begun and the Ba’al Shem Tov felt that it was time to accelerate that process and focus upon the central role Eretz Yisrael would play in this unfolding drama. The Ba’al Shem Tov’s famous attempt to reach the Holy Land was at that time practically unheard of and despite his failure to reach his destination, he began a trend that was championed by his students. They, as well as the followers of the Vilna Gaon, helped form the backbone of the Jewish communities living in Israel’s four holy cities: Jerusalem, Hebron, Safed, and Tiberias. In truth this was the first aliyah movement of modern times.
Despite the fact that Reb Shlomo traveled around the world for over forty years, performing concerts, running Shabbat programs, and teaching, he too placed Eretz Yisrael at the epicenter. Notwithstanding his travels, he always spent approximately three months each year in Israel, and during the last twenty years of his life he was based in Moshav Meor Modiim. At concerts all over the world, he played the role of Israel’s ambassador, beginning many an event with the words: “I bring you greetings and peace from Jerusalem, the holy city.” He always spoke of how the world was constantly improving, despite what many people thought. No matter where he was or what situation he found himself in, (like the Ba’al Shem Tov) he attempted to arouse peoples’ innermost spark of potential and goodness, their individual spark of Mashiach. Likewise he constantly reminded his listeners that the Messianic era was approaching and that the contemporary reality in Israel is a fulfillment of the ancient Jewish prophecies.
Both during and immediately following the many wars the State of Israel has endured, Reb Shlomo would go to play for the Israeli soldiers on army bases and visit hospitals to cheer up the wounded. He brought hope and strength to those on the front lines as no one else could. He told stories and spoke constantly about the awesome holiness of Israel’s soldiers and their commitment to the Jewish people and the Land of Israel.
In conclusion it would be highly instructive to apply the various teachings and practices of the Ba’al Shem Tov and Reb Shlomo more systematically to construct an educational paradigm that is desperately needed today on a wide scale. In general, we can safely state that the educational models being used in formal Jewish education—the religious school systems and the non-Orthodox pluralistic day schools and supplementary education tracks—are too formal, cold, and emotionally detached from the student. Independent thinking, hands-on experience and a feeling of community are not emphasized enough and creative alternatives to frontal classroom teaching are not experimented with sufficiently.
Just as problematic is many students’ sense that what is being taught is boring and unrelated to contemporary reality, and even more disastrously, that it does not relate to their own personal experiences and inner lives. A frequent complaint made by those not raised religiously is that the little they were taught almost always boiled down to what to do and not why we do it. This approach ultimately breeds frustration and disdain. Unfortunately, many Orthodox day school, yeshiva, and seminary students can make a similar complaint. It is quite shocking, for example, how many products of the Orthodox educational system, pray by rote daily, yet possess very little understanding or feeling for the beauty and depth of the prayers. The mitzvot are generally taught with little emphasis placed on their personal relevance or spiritual beauty.
By systematizing the core strategies of the Ba’al Shem Tov and Reb Shlomo, a holistic educational model can be created that will reveal the spiritual underpinnings of Jewish belief and practice. By delving deep within Jewish learning and tradition, the diverse levels of understanding can be made available. It is no longer sufficient to teach only the superficial aspects of Torah. Today’s youth are seeking much more than some seem to give them credit for. Unless our students feel a real spiritual depth to Judaism they will simply look elsewhere for answers to life’s deepest questions, or stop looking altogether. The Jewish soul longs for meaning and purpose and if it cannot find it in Judaism it will look elsewhere to fulfill that longing.
Today, this longing is expressed in part by the explosion of interest in Kabbalah, as Jews rebel against the lack of spirituality in the mainstream Jewish world. The amazing spread of Carlebach davening also speaks volumes about this spiritual void. Ongoing Carlebach minyanim have been established on campuses and in communities throughout the Jewish world filling an obvious need.
Notably some of the most successful programs in Jewish education today—and, indeed, there are some highly successful ones—are adopting the model described in this article. This success—in building vibrant youth groups and summer camps, involving students in community service, and running the study in Israel, Birthright, and March of the Living type programs—should be built on, as these educational paradigms also use the Ba’al Shem Tov and Reb Shlomo’s formula: more creativity, more hands-on experience, and all in all a more spiritual and joyous approach to Judaism.
Ultimately, to a large degree, the success of any educational endeavor depends not just on the material taught but on the teacher’s attitude towards and method of approaching the students. Thus, it would make a tremendous difference, if, in addition to focusing on spirituality and creativity, teachers adopt the interpersonal practices of the Ba’al Shem Tov and Reb Shlomo: relating to their students with consummate love and respect; envisioning the Godly potential within each and every student; and committing themselves to assisting each and every one to realize his or her latent potential.
It is within our power to continue to build upon the direction and initiatives the Ba’al Shem Tov and Reb Shlomo pioneered: to fearlessly extend our hands out to every Jew and, in fact, to the entire world by revealing the inner depths of the Torah in a joyous and easily accessible manner; to treat everyone as an image of God with limitless potential; to build community spirit and sharing, while simultaneously developing our own unique connections to the Creator; and to do our parts in bringing the Messianic era and consciousness closer, especially by being connected to Eretz Yisrael.
The Ba’al Shem Tov and Reb Shlomo, in their respective generations, took the ancient traditions and forged new pathways relevant to their times. Their wisdom, courage, and creativity are needed now more than ever to meet both our contemporary and future challenges.
Ahavat Yisrael – from the Baal Shem Tov to R’ Shlomo Carlebach
I called have also titled the shiur rise of Neo-Hasidism.
The use of the term “Neo-Hasidim is a phase attributed to the impact of Reb Shlomo which also implies a relationship to the 18th century founder of Hasidism, the Baal Shem Tov
There are many comparisons .
First let’s focus on the historical timeline – Both of the Personalities came about after a series of national tragedy.
From 1648–1655, The Ukrainian Cossack Bohdan Chmielnicki leads a massacre of Polish gentry and Jewry that leaves an estimated 65,000 Jews dead and a similar number of gentry. The total decrease in the number of Jews is estimated at 100,000.
The Bal Shem Tov was some born some 50 years after this , when conditions for the Jews were extremely harsh in Eastern Europe and were starved spiritually.
R’ Shlomo came on the scene after the Holocaust and started his ‘career’ around 1960. At that time there a lack of uncertainty about Israel’s survival. Jews were in shock about the Holocaust and there was many Jews who were say were ‘in a crisis’ with Hashem and there was a spiritual darkness ,
The young post war Jews of the 60’s Jews were searching for spiritual meaning and they looked elsewhere for fulfilment.
This was the world the Both of these Personalities lived – they tried to heal the pain and re-create a Connection to Hashem.
The Baal Shem Tov's teachings were largely based upon the Kabalistic teachings of the AriZal (Rabbi Yitzchak Luria (1534-72)) but his approach made the benefits of these teachings accessible even to the simplest Jew. He emphasized the profound importance and significance of prayer, love of God, and love of one's fellow Jews.
He taught that even if one was not blessed with the ability or opportunity to be a Torah scholar, one could still reach great spiritual heights through these channels
While there was no particular element in his teachings that could be viewed as new to Judaism, nevertheless his teachings revolutionized the Jewish world.
The Baal Shem Tov felt a powerful love for the land of Israel and his entire life he wanted to immigrate there.
The Baal Shem Tov passed away on the second day of Shavuous, in the year 5520 (1760).
The Baal Shem’s Tov Message was one of inclusiveness- where every Jew Mattered.
Lets jump start to the 1950’s – The Hassidic Movement which he founded was different . It lost it message of inclusiveness and Tolerance and care for the simple (secular) Jew.
This is the era that Reb Shlomo entered. Reb Shlomo’s upbringing was anything but Chasidut .
Ren Shlomo was born in 1925 to is a notable Rabbinic family originally from Germany.. The Carlebach Family emigrated to Lithuania in 1938 where he studied at a yeshiva. In 1938 they emigted to the Us where his father became the rabbi of Congregation Kehilath Jacob, a small synagogue on West 79th Street in New York City's Upper West Side.
He studied at Yeshiva Torah Vodaas and Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin in Brooklyn, New York, and Beth Medrash Gevoha in Lakewood, New Jersey. His aptitude for Torah study was recognized by great Torah scholars and teachers, among them Rabbi Shlomo Heiman, and the Rosh Yeshiva of Bais Medrash Gevoha, Rabbi Aharon Kotler. He was considered one of the top students of Rabbi Kotler. Rabbi Yitzchok Hutner, who gave Carlebach Semikha, considered it a loss to the Torah world that he chose a career in musical Jewish outreach over one as a scholar and teacher.
His connection with Hassdism started when Reb Shlomo became a disciple of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, the sixth Rebbe of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. From 1951-1954, he worked as one of the first emissaries (shluchim) of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe who urged him to use his special skills and go to college campuses to reconnect Jews to Judaism.
The story is told how he asked the else if he have programs to mixed audiences . He said , that without allowing this, nobody would come and the Rebbe refused promptly Shlomo to plot his own Derech
From there Reb Shlomo started to explore Hasidism more , eventually, his message mirrored that of the Baal Shem Tov. . He emphasized the profound importance and significance of prayer, love of God, and love of one's fellow Jews.
From the this he incorporated the Teachings of Reb Nachman, Rav Kook and of course the Ishbister.
He apparently came across Rabbi Leiner's (The Ishbister) work’s in an old Jewish book store. He is quoted as saying that after initially being perplexed as to the peculiar nature of the teachings he quickly realized that in it lay the "secret for turning Jews on to the deeper meanings of Judaism".
Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach is credited with the recent popularization of The Ishbister teachings.
I will focus only on the one key aspect of the Ishbisters’s teachings that is central to Ahavat Yisrael – judging somebody favourably. To paraphrase
Even if he sees another transgressing the Torah, he may not assume that the other is rebelling against G-d’s will, for he has no way of knowing the private relationship between the other and G-d.
In fact – This was a theme that Reb Shlomo used often in his Music & stories – He would sing or say – You never Know , You never know how Holy that person is .. We know about Reb Shlomo for his music, but he was a master story teller believing in the power of the story.
Here is another comparison with the Baal Shem Tov and the use of stories to inspire..
Many of his stories are well known – From the holy water carrier , the holy hunchbank, the holy soldier, the holy playboy and more. The Common theme is you never know how holy a person is, This is the Essence of Ahavat Yisrael !!
It would not do justice to my shiur if I did not tell a story. I will choose the story of ..Yossele the holy Miser (Kamsan) which was one of Reb’ Shlomo’s favourites.
According to the general outline of the legend, the richest Jew in Kraków in the 17th century was Yossele the Miser. He was known by this title because in the community he was reviled for his stinginess and refusal to contribute to tzedakah (charity) despite his great wealth. When the Miser died, the townspeople who long despised him refused to bury his body for several days. Out of scorn, they eventually buried him in the back of the cemetery, an area normally reserved for paupers and other societal outcasts
Within a week of the Miser's death, strange occurrences began to unfold in the town. All the poor began beseeching the local rabbi for money because the weekly allowances they had regularly been receiving from an anonymous benefactor had ceased arriving. Eventually, the rabbi realized that Yossele was the source of these charitable donations and in fact, the notorious miser was a great Tzadik (righteous man).
Immediately, the rabbi commanded the entire town to converge on Yossele's grave and beg for forgiveness. And on the tombstone which read "Yossele the Miser," the rabbi added the word HaTzadik—the Righteous One. According to the story, the rabbi involved was the famed sage Yom-Tov Lipmann Heller, who requested to be buried next to the Holy Miser. This is understood as the reason why the grave of the venerated Rabbi Yom-Tov is found at the back of the Remah Cemetery next to Yossele today.
The tale underlines one of the highest forms of tzedakah according to the pre-eminent Jewish philosopher Maimonides — giving anonymously. but also not judge anybody unfavourably.
I beg forgiveness for doing something as brazen as trying to summarize the main principle of the Mei Hashiloach in a few sentences. First and foremost, everything is in the hands of Heaven. Everything that we receive in our lives, we are receiving directly from the blessed G-d. It is then the work of man in the world to develop a mind that is conscious of this reality. On top of a general unwavering dedication to the Torah and its laws, man must specifically work, through the study of the Torah and Avodat Hashem, the service of G-d, to know what G-d wants of him specifically in his life. He must also then know that G-d’s will could change at any time, and must constan tly look to G-d to illuminate into him what He wants of man at any particular moment. This also necessitates that he not assume that what G-d wants from him is the same as that which he wants from another. Even if he sees another transgressing the Torah, he may not assume that the other is rebelling against G-d’s will, for he has no way of knowing the private relationship betwee