Reb Shlomo

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Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach was a Jewish religious teacher, composer, and singer who was known as “The Singing Rabbi” during his lifetime. Although his roots lay in traditional Orthodox yeshivot, he branched out to create his own movement combining Hasidic style warmth and personal interaction, public concerts, and song-filled synagogue services. At various times he lived in Manhattan, New York, San Francisco, Toronto and Moshav Mevo Modi’im, Israel.

Carlebach is considered by many to be the foremost Jewish religious songwriter in the second half of the 20th century. In a career that spanned 40 years, he recorded more than 25 albums that continue to have wide popularity and appeal. His influence also continues to this day in so-called “Carlebach minyanim” located in many cities around the globe.

Carlebach was also considered a pioneer of the Baal teshuva movement, encouraging disenchanted Jewish youth to re-embrace their heritage.

Carlebach was a disciple of  Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, the sixth Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch. From 1951-1954, he worked as one of the first emissaries (shluchim) of  Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe. The Rebbe urged him to use his special skills and go to college campuses to attract Jews to Judaism.

Carlebach began writing songs at the end of the 1950s, primarily based on verses from Tanakh set to his own music. Although he composed thousands of songs, he couldn’t read musical notes. Many of his soulful renderings of Torah verses became standards in the wider Jewish community, including Am Yisrael Chai (“[The] Nation [of] Israel Lives”—composed on behalf of Soviet Jewry in the mid-1960s), Pischu Li  (“Open For Me [The Gates of Righteousness]”) and Barchi Nafshi (“May My Soul Bless God”).

His public singing career began in Greenwich Village, where he met Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, and other folk singers.

He moved to Berkeley for the 1966 Folk Festival. After his appearance, he decided to remain in the San Francisco Bay Area to reach out to what he called “lost Jewish souls”—runaways and drug-addicted youth. His local followers opened a center called the House of Love and Prayer in the Inner Richmond district of San Francisco, to reach out to disaffected youth with song and dance and communal gatherings. He became known as “The Singing Rabbi.” Through his infectious music and his innate caring, many Jews feel that he “saved” thousands of Jewish youngsters and adults.

Some Carlebach melodies were entered in Israel’s annual Hasidic Song Festival.

In 1969, his song Ve’haer Enenu, sung by the Shlosharim won first prize. The Hasidic festivals were a yearly event that helped to popularize his music. He also produced albums with a more liturgical sound. Some of the musicians he worked with during this period added a psychedelic tinge and a wider range of backup instrumentation. During this period, Carlebach spent much of his time in Israel, living in Moshav Me’or Modi’im.
Carlebach’s songs were characterized by relatively short melodies and traditional lyrics. His catchy new tunes were easy to learn and became part of the prayer service in many American synagogues.

On his return to New York City, Carlebach became known for his stories and hasidic teachings. As part of his performances he spoke of inspirational subjects, rooted in hasidism and Kabbalah. Some of his teachings have been published by his students and appear alongside his recorded songs. Carlebach spread the teachings of  Chabad, Breslov, and popularized the writings of,  among others, the Rebbe Mordechai Yosef Leiner of  Ishbitz,  and Rebbe  Kalonymus Kalman Shapira of  Piasetzno (via Wikipedia).

Shlomo Carlebach singing Boi B’Shalom 1973 in Israel

Album:  Songs of  Peace by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

Price: $9.90
GenresWorld, Music
Released: Oct 18, 2009 ℗ 2010 Sojourn Records

To buy CD/listen to samples click here (iTunes)

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