Jerusalem Grapevine: The singing rabbi

News brief from around the capital.

November 17, 2016 20:17
3 minute read.
Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. (photo credit: JERUSALEM REPORT ARCHIVES)

► IT’S DIFFICULT to believe that 22 years have passed since the death of Shlomo Carlebach, the charismatic singing rabbi. His joyful, loving and non-judgmental fashion brought many assimilated Jews back into the fold, thus ensuring that their progeny would be Jewish, not only from a halachic standpoint, in that they were born to Jewish mothers, but that they would identify Jewishly.

Many of his followers, mostly from America but from other countries too, settled in Israel. Some of them grew up without any sense of Jewish observance or of Zionism, and today are proud parents and grandparents of children who studied in yeshivot and who served in the Israel Defense Forces or in the Civilian National Service. These are people that Carlebach used to call his ‘hippelech’ and some of them still dress like hippies, and a few of them still get high on grass.

Those who didn’t relocate to Israel have set up Carlebach congregations in many parts of the world. Carlebach is arguably one of the very few troubadours who has become even more popular in death than he was in life. His tunes reverberate in synagogues throughout the world, and every year on or close to the anniversary of his death, major events are held at the Carlebach synagogue in New York and at the Jerusalem International Convention Center.

This year is no exception. On Saturday night, November 19, Benzion Solomon, who was one of the original Carlebach hippies and was among the first residents of Mevo Modi’im, the moshav that was founded by Carlebach, will appear at the Carlebach memorial concert in Jerusalem, as he has done year after year. Other performers include Aaron Razel, Udi Davidi, Chizki Sofer, Yitzhak Meir, Avi Miller, the Solomon Brothers, who are the sons of Benzion Solomon, and Israel Nachman with Hashlitzim.

Musical director is Eran Klein and moderator is Yedidya Meir, who is the brother of Yitzhak Meir, and who is married to journalist, author and popular lecturer Sivan Rahav Meir. The concert always attracts a huge and diverse crowd. Although the doors open at 8:30 p.m. the performance does not begin till 9 p.m., and perhaps even a bit later. This allows time for people who will have driven in or come by bus from other parts of the country.

Even though Shabbat is out early, there is often traffic congestion on the freeways. By kicking off a little later than is customary, organizers are attempting to ensure that everyone in the audience gets to hear the whole concert.

► INSTITUTIONS SUCH as Yeshiva University have proven that religious and secular education under the same roof can be compatible, and many professions can even be complemented by knowledge gained through studies of Talmudic texts. Religious medical practitioners often refer to Jewish medical ethics; religious lawyers often resort to Jewish law in seeking solutions to civil problems, and religious people in the world of finance will sometimes settle thorny financial disputes with halachic wisdom.

Quite a number of great rabbis and scholars over the past century or two successfully combined religious and secular studies, which enabled them to have a foot in both camps. To honor them and others like them, Maggid Books and Yeshiva University’s Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought published portraits of 10 leading Jewish thinkers of the 20th century.

Released at the beginning of this year, Torah and Western Thought: Intellectual Portraits of Orthodoxy and Modernity provides new insight into some of the Modern Orthodox giants of the 20th century. The book will be introduced at a lecture on Sunday, November 27 at 7.30 p.m. at Kehillat Nitzanim, 3 Asher St., Baka. Speakers will include rabbis Carmi Horowitz, Meir Soloveitchik and Reuven Ziegler, who will respectively speak about Prof. Isadore (Yitzhak) Twersky; rabbis Ahron and Joseph B. Soloveitchik, and Rabbi Yehuda Amital, while Yael Unterman will speak about Prof. Nechama Leibowitz.

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