Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The House of Love and Prayer... A Play about the life of Shlomo Carlebach

I was very fortunate to be in the audience of the 3rd night of a 3 night NYC run of The House of Love and Prayer.. The Life, Music and Stories of Shlomo Carlebach. The 2 1/2 + hour performance was thoroughly engaging and delightful from the start. The music had the audience clapping and tapping their feet. As the show ended and the crowd rose to a standing ovation I felt like I could have listened to the music all night long...

A little info on the life of Shlomo Carlebach from Wikipedia....

Shlomo Carlebach's ancestors comprised one of the oldest rabbinical dynasties in pre-Holocaust Germany.

Shlomo Carlebach was born in Berlin, where his father, Rabbi Naftali Carlebach, was an Orthodox Rabbinic Authority. The family fled the Nazis in 1933 and lived in Baden bei Wien, Austria before coming to New York City in 1939. His father became the rabbi of Congregation Kehilath Jacob, a small synagogue on West 79th Street in New York's Upper West Side; Shlomo and his twin brother Eli Chaim took over the rabbinate of the synagogue after their father's death in 1967.

Reb Shlomo studied at several high-level Orthodox yeshivos, including Yeshiva Torah Vodaas and Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin in Brooklyn, New York, and Bais Medrash Gevoha in Lakewood, New Jersey. His voice and musical talents were recognized quite early during his days in yeshiva, when he was often chosen to lead the services as a popular Hazzan ("cantor") for Jewish holidays.

As is engraved on his tombstone, he became a devoted Hasid ("disciple") of Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneersohn (1880-1950) the sixth Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch. From 1951-1954, he subsequently worked as the first emissaries (shluchim) of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, until he departed to form his successful model for outreach, literally teaching hundreds of thousands of Jews worldwide

Reb Shlomo and his wife, Neila, had two daughters, Nedara (Dari) and Neshama. Neshama Carlebach is a songwriter and singer with her own following who has written and sung many songs in her father's style.

He died suddenly of a heart attack while travelling on an airplane to relatives in Canada. Seated next to him was the Skverer Rebbe, they were singing the Rebbe's favorite melody, which Shlomo had composed.

Reb Shlomo was very close with many famous Hassidic Rebbes, including the Amshinover Rebbe and Bobover Rebbe. Shlomo is regarded as one of the most successful Kiruv personalities of the 20th century, second only to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, reaching many Jewish souls through his outreach, music and teaching.

Carlebach's approach towards kiruv, or Jewish outreach, was often tinged with controversy:

"He operated outside traditional Jewish structures in style and substance, and spoke about God and His love in a way that could make other rabbis uncomfortable."[3]
At times, he would encourage mixed (men and women) dancing at his concerts and would often kiss woman upon greeting them:

"He was known for literally embracing his female followers—a forbidden practice among Orthodox jews. His standards of comportment were viewed as being too lax by Orthodox colleagues, distancing him from the Haredi establishment which adheres to the laws of shomer negiah (whereby physical contact with a member of the opposite sex is only permitted with one's spouse and very close relatives). An anecdote is told that when Carlebach was asked about his lack of adherence to the laws of shomer negiah by one yeshiva student, he responded (in a manner very uncharacteristic to him), "When your foolish rabbi knows as much as the average gentile about the Torah, come back and ask me the same question."

I had the pleasure of listening to Rabbi Naftali Citron, Spiritual Leader of The Carlebach Shul this summer at The Hampton Synagogue. Rabbi Citron is the great nephew of Reb Shlomo. The Carlebach Shul is located on West 79th Street in New York City.

Have fun! I always do!


1 comment:

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