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”