Local disciples honor Carlebach on his 26th yahrzeit

“Reb Shlomo is more alive than ever. There are so many people studying his teachings, sharing his teachings and uncovering new songs.”

Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach  (photo credit: Courtesy)
Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach
(photo credit: Courtesy)
We could all do with an injection of joy and light these days, something with which, for many, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach was synonymous.
The feel-good factor will be front and center at a musical gathering this Saturday evening when a bunch of acts join forces for the online Reb Shlomo’s Kumzitz.
The get-together marks the 26th yahrzeit (anniversary) of Carlebach’s death and is organized by Yehudah Katz, a leading figure of the Jewish spiritual rock scene here since he made aliyah from the States nearly three decades ago now. The 69-year-old guitarist-vocalist, who first encountered Carlebach in Florida almost half a century ago, has put together numerous similarly oriented shows over the years, and this time round has enlisted a bunch of like-minded artists, including Chizki Sofer, Chaim David Saracik, The Solomon Brothers and the Kotler Brothers. Katz is also on the bill, together with his Hamaagal band, with Rafi Kaplan keeping the virtual show on the road as MC.
Katz feels that, while the late feted troubadour may be physically gone, his spiritual and musical presence is still very much with us.
“Reb Shlomo is more alive than ever,” he says. “There are so many people studying his teachings, sharing his teachings and uncovering new songs.”
Considering the devotion and sense of community Carlebach generated among his followers and listeners, it is hard to believe that there is still much in the way of unheard material out there waiting to be unearthed. But, according to Katz, there are plenty of recordings – albeit not too professional – still coming out of the woodwork. “There are all these home cassette tapes [of Carlebach singing]. Shlomo, over the years, probably did many, many more home sessions, with maybe 50-100 people, than anything else.” Which, naturally, meant that someone among the faithful was sure to whip out some recording device or other, to document the sonic proceedings which always featured some significant musical content.
“His hevra – as he called us – were always sure that someone was recording it,” Katz says, adding that it is not only he and his contemporaries, those who experienced Carlebach’s magnetism firsthand, that are determined to keep the singing rabbi’s musical legacy burning long and bright. “There are thousands of bootleg tapes around of Shlomo, and there are all these young people who, over the years, go crazy over finding [recordings of Carlebach] songs.”
Katz is planning on performing a couple of Carlebach numbers himself this Saturday evening, as well as some of his own material. He says the accent at the Kumzitz will be very much on harmony, on both a personal and musical level. “Each band, or artist, will play their stuff, but we will all play and sing together. Everyone I called to participate was so excited. We will get together and be together, with ourselves and with everybody. It’s not going to be: ‘OK, and now it’s The Solomon Brothers!’ The Solomon Brothers are going to lead the 12 people on the stage, in the circle, in a song.”
Still, you can’t quite manage everything via Internet-based technology.
“It’s going to be hard to get up and dance,” Katz chuckles. “I have to stay in the circle, otherwise no one will see me.”
The broadcast begins in Israel at 8 p.m., with further showings at 8:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time and Pacific Standard Time. For tickets and more information: English – http://bit.ly/RSC26eng, Hebrew – http://bit.ly/RSC26he