A New Gabai in Heaven



It was the first funeral of its kind. Quite fitting, in fact, because Michael Golomb was the first of his kind.

It was the first funeral I attended that the cheerful melody ‘Mi sheNichnas Adar Marbin B’Simcha (When Adar enters, joy increases)’ was chanted, accompanied by a spirited instrumental ensemble.

Michael Golomb, a man whose funeral could have no eulogy – for no eulogy could possibly do him justice – transformed what it means to give blessing for the entire Jewish world.

Michael, the holy Tamborine Man of the legendary Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach revolutionized the classic role of the Gabai (sexton) in Shul. Whereas most Gabaim simply call people to the Torah by name and point them to the ritual blessing as prescribed in the Siddur (prayer book), Michael didn’t just summon the reader to the Torah in formal, routine order. Holy Michael would smile warmly, look into your eyes, and prophesize. In fact, not only at the Torah readings, but every time he saw you it was like Hashem was whispering into his ear, telling him exactly what strength to bless you with.  Somehow he just knew, and if you didn’t, he made sure you did by adding on blessings no one could have known except for someone tapped into the secret sacred wellsprings of God Himself.

Michael’s magic wasn’t offered only at his home synagogue, with its thousands of annual visitors at Moshav Mevo Modiin, the famous Carlebach Moshav. It was offered at the hectic, diverse array of festivals throughout Israel, where hungry teens and young, explorative adults mingled for days without an ounce of food for their soul, that is until they met Michael. Whether it was running a Jewish spiritual tent, organizing a parade, bringing the Torah out to thousands, giving each of them the Aliyah and personal attention and prophetic blessing they needed.

Michael spoke life into our souls, held our spirit in his hands. Now he is holding us from a place set aside only for the most authentic of the righteous. Michael served on the front lines along with the elite warriors of light in this world. It is difficult to imagine the thousands upon thousands of souls Michael has enlightened and altered forever. When I was to be engaged to a girl whose father had yet to meet me, it was Michael who, from behind the scenes, came to my support and vouched for me. Seated next to me on the way home from the funeral is a married man who says Michael saved his life when he was lost and trying to make sense of the confusions of teenage relationships with authoritative figures, in this case his parents and Rabbis. This married man’s mother will never know it, but Michael saved the relationship between her and her son.

Michael always saw the good, helped us all see the light in the dark. Perhaps that’s why during his funeral people didn’t know whether to smile, sing and dance, or cry tears of loss. They really weren’t sure what to say to each other. We lost a pure joy, literally. In Michael’s presence you had no choice but to see the light, a sensation that stayed with you for some time thereafter. Now Michael’s light is infinite, accessible to all who wish to tap in.

Besides for his children who are a light to all of us, Michael’s wife Leah is a teacher, friend and inspiration to us all. At this time of loss, when the community attempts to console and support a new widow, it has been her and her wisdom that held us up, and will probably continue holding us up.

Perhaps I am not the right person to be recording these thoughts just moments after Michael’s burial. Although I recently paid a visit, spending two hours with Michael in long, musical healing, I really haven’t spent as much time as I now wish I would have with this hidden – yet somehow revealed – humble, righteous soul, one we wish we still had physical access to.

I have been called optimistic in the past, but it is people like Michael who gave me perspective. Not the kind of perspective you can find anywhere else, and that is why just imagining the way he would look at you with his eyes puts a knot in my stomach. Ironically, it’s that same look in his eyes that undid and still undoes our worrisome stomach knots. Michael is now giving life to the music being played in the Garden of Eden with his awakening tambourine, sitting next to only the greatest of the great, the sweetest of the sweet, the deepest of the deep. May Michael’s life be an inspiration to all of us to see the true good in the world and in each other, to give each other the love we truly need and the blessings we need to hear. And may his soul only soar to the highest of heights in the merit of his beautiful family, friends and all of our good deeds, Amen.

Yitzchok Meir Malek

Jewish Unity Project

Rosh Chodesh Adar

February 19, 2015

10842282_10152741187459503_8971903539436173594_oNechama Jacobson Photography


Nechama Jacobson Photography


Nechama Jacobson Photography


About the Author
Yitzchok Meir Malek leads a fresh, grassroots movement with growing and sustainable momentum that uses the power of music, shared events, holiday celebrations, and social projects to provide a deeply meaningful and engaging experience of unity between different kinds of Jews and non Jews alike. He is 30, and has lived in Jerusalem since he moved here alone at the age of 17. By day Yitzchok Meir plans revolutionary events for the city. By night YM plays concerts and is getting ready to release his debut album with Ronny Vance (former president of Geffen Music and Interscope Music, responsible for the signings of Tupac, New Edition, Stephen Sondheim, Bruce Hornsby and Gwen Stephani, and for the placement of such notable songs as "Maniac,” “New Attitude,” and Eric Clapton’s two-time 1998 Grammy winning song "Change The World,") to be released next season. He made aliyah at age 17 from NY because he didn't want to be history, he wanted to be part of making history. He believes that the best way to feel at home in Jerusalem is to grab a musical instrument and walk the streets returning smiles and making new friends. If there’s anything he’s learned about connecting to the community here, it is if you want something to happen, anything, you can make it happen, and you should.
Related Topics
Related Posts