Sunday, November 13, 2011

Remembering Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, So Different From Matisyahu

Thanks to Life in Israel for the Matisyahu video.

Last night some young neighbors declared an "open house" singalong memorial for the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach.

I got a real kick out of wondering how Reb Shlomo would have reacted to a separate seating event in his memory.  I wonder if the youngsters there had ever met him or been to any of his concerts or events.  Reb Shlomo certainly didn't relegate females to another part of the room.  His hugs and kisses went to all he could reach without gender discrimination.

I first heard Shlomo Carlebach in the mid-1960's in the Great Neck Synagogue; he came a couple of times.  After the formal performance, a few dozen of us were invited to someone's house for more songs and stories.  I don't remember any details, just the general feeling.  I was hooked.  Singing along with this rabbi is one of my favorite memories from that time.  It is a pleasant postscript to the singing and dancing I did during NCSY events.  OK, I'd sing and dance along to almost anything; that's me.

Carlebach became even bigger after moving to Israel about the same time we (1970) did.  This picture is of Reb Shlomo and Ruby Harris, who was part of the legendary Diaspora Yeshiva Band.

Last night I wasn't the only old-timer at the "Carlebach Kumzitz."  My friend and I exchanged stories.  She mentioned his classic "The Blind Chazan," and wouldn't you know it, but when I got back home, someone had posted it on facebook.  Reb Shlomo, thanks, you must have arranged that!

I remember reading an interview with him in which he said that he was glad that he had an ordinary voice, because it made people feel comfortable singing along.  In contrast, today there's Matisyahu who is the total opposite of Reb Shloimo Carlebach.  Matisyahu is an inaccessible "rock star" with a beard and payot.

Reb Shloimi's body was his weakness.  Now that he's dead and his body is no more, his pure soul, his sweet melodies, are heard throughout the world.  May we continue to enjoy them.


rickismom said...

you wonder about "how Reb Shlomo would have reacted to a separate seating event in his memory. "
Well, my first husband was a big chasid of Rav Shlomo, and when I first met him, she stretched out his had to shake mine. I softly mentioned that I am shomer negiyah and he had absolutely no problem with that. It is true that he shoke hands with women; he used that as a tool. But he had absolutely no problem with people who were shomer negiyah, none at all.
Rav Shlomo and Mattisiahu are like apples and pears... two completely different types of taste. I enjoy the music of both.

Batya said...

RM, thanks, that wasn't the atmosphere in the MO shul of the 1960's. B"H, things have changed a lot.